Here we go everyone! It’s Monday and this is one of my favorite practices when I need to recenter myself. Do you ever feel off in life? Stressed, stuck or confused on what you want your next step to be? A great place to start is by identifying what are your most important things. The things you want to give your time and energy to on a daily basis. One of my all-time favorite song lyrics comes from Mumford & Sons song Awake My Soul, “ In these bodies, we will live, in these bodies, we will die, Where you invest your love, you invest your life”. It’s so easy to get distracted and to fill our days with maybe things we don’t actually even value. This simple exercise helps to refocus ourselves, our time and energy on the things that matter most.
Engaged? Thinking about being Engaged? Most likely you are full of excitement and busy with the wedding planning. As you may have already discovered wedding planning can be stressful and often take away from the continual journey of getting to know your partner. Often this is the first time couples are making significant decision together which include family, finances, and lots of logistics. Maybe you have already discovered that your partner approaches some of these areas differently than you, if not all areas. This can be stressful and confusing to navigate because both partners want to be able to enjoy the person they are choosing to spend the rest of their life with.
As a therapist/coach I have found personality assessments to be helpful navigating relationships in general, whether personal or professional. I have utilized various assessments in the past, but over the past few years I have focused on using the Enneagram. I find when couples really understand themselves and their partner through the lens of this Enneagram they are able have a new language. This new language provides an increased self-awareness and a decrease in misunderstanding or even more importantly judgement. Often I see couples wishing their partner would do things the way they would want them and being extremely frustrated when their partner does not. On the other hand if the one partner “gives in” to the other partner over and over again this can lead to not having a voice in the relationship, especially when they compromise on things that really matter to them.
So what about the Enneagram is so special? The reason I find this to be helpful in premarital coaching is this assessment helps identify where you go to when you are feeling stressed or unhealthy and what it looks like for you to be in a more healthy place. How life changing would it be for you to know when your partner is stressed versus mind reading or assuming that you must have done something wrong? This is especially true during stressful seasons like wedding planning or even more so the first year of marriage.
The part of the Enneagram that is difficult is it can take a while to sort through what personality you identify with. That is where I find it helpful for couples to have a coach to work with them using this tool to increase the chances of connection and intimacy during engagement and making the transition into that first year with more understanding of your partner. My husband attended a conference about year ago where a couple said that they wished they had a tool like this when they first got married and that it would have prevented a lot of misunderstanding. Discovering your Enneagram type together could possible be one of the best ways to invest your time during your engagement season. If you would like to schedule a FREE consultation today or your first session please visit my contact page! I offer both in person and Skype sessions.
I have always loved weddings. Hearing the couple’s love story and being able to see how they choose to celebrate their day. Wedding days can be one of the most special days of your relationship, but I often find that leading up to that day the planning can cause a lot of stress on the relationship. Couples often think they have the same expectation for this special day and their marriage, only to find out that they really are not on the same page. So what if there was a way to alleviate some of this stress, to be more on the same page, to work through unrealistic expectations, to learn more about yourself, your partner, and how to actually enjoy the engagement journey?
Traditionally, I found a lot of couples will go through the process of pre-marital counseling in order for their pastor, priest, or religious leader to marry them. Often this type of pre-marital counseling can be a formality versus utilized as a significant tool to prepare couples, whether religious or non-religious, for a lifelong commitment. As a relationship coach my goal is for couples to take the time now, versus waiting until things get difficult, to understand their family systems, discuss expectations around difficult topics such as finances and intimacy. To discover healthy ways of communicating, such as how to have a difficult conversation and stay in the same room, now that is not always easy!
I look at engagement coaching as a time for you. Where you, as a couple, can take a break from all the planning and focus on the relationship. I love getting to know each couple's story, personalities, vision for their wedding day, and for their marriage. Premarital counseling can be a significantly meaningful for couples and offer a deep sense of connection and understanding. Couples who are willing to not only invest in their wedding day but in their relationship have a greater sense of unity and peacefulness as they move forward in their commitment to one another.
About a year ago I attended a Bridal Fair where I had a booth about premarital coaching. It was so fun to see the excitement of the couples and all the options. What I found to be very interesting was that almost every mother or mother-in-law stopped at my booth saying, “YES!!, this would have been so helpful”. This made me smile so much! They knew the secret, that marriage is beautiful, fun, intimate....and it is difficult at times, there is miscommunication, differing personalities, busy schedules, etc… I loved that they were encouraging their adult children to take the time during this season of preparation to invest in the thing that matters more than any other wedding day cost, each other.
Jonna Phillips, MA, LMFT, Relationship Coach is a couples therapist/coach in Portage, Michigan. She is the owner of Brave Counseling and Coaching.