RELATIONSHIP COACHING CASE STUDY: WILL THEY MAKE IT?
My clients, Ashley and Justin, met me at a coaching circle. He was skeptical when he walked in, and I was a bit intimidated. She could sense this and she compensated for his seriousness by being bubbly, warm and open. I decided, internally, to take Justin on as a challenge so I poured my attention and approval onto him. He asked questions sharply and directly, like he was interviewing me for a job. Turns out he was. By the end of the coaching circle, he was glowing- both of them were. They had been seen in a way that is rare and vulnerable, and witnessed as their pure selves by the group.
They called me a few days later and asked me to coach them. Even as a relationship coach, it still often catches me by surprise when two people who seem so in love and put together ask me for help.
Things were difficult, they explained over the phone. Ashley blamed herself. She was angry, volatile, and she couldn’t seem to control or stop herself from lashing out at him. She felt so guilty about the mean things she said to him in anger. She had threatened to leave on several occasions. This triggered his abandonment issues, he explained to me. He told me he had been to therapy and was starting to realize how disconnected he was to his own feelings and emotions. He could see how that his behavior impacted Ashley, and hurt them both. He also saw how it impacted other areas of his life; at work and his other relationships with friends and family. He knew something had to be done, but he wasn’t sure what.
Were they doomed to break up? Or worse, doomed to stay together and end up miserable and lonely like both of their parents? Was a good, or great relationship even possible?
If she kept exploding in anger and threatening to leave, and he kept being unable to access a major part of himself because he felt numb and dismissive, what would happen? Would they break up and ultimately bring themselves into their next relationship, repeating the same pattern all over again? This time older, with more baggage, and more time and energy wasted?
What about their dreams, and their goals? What about all the things they wanted to create? Would all of that end up being wasted potential because the majority of their energy went towards fighting and resenting each other? Would they eventually push each other away out of fear and stubbornness to change? Would this happen gradually over years, and decades, slowly causing their once beautiful relationship to decay?