This post was written by Marty Raphael, a Newfield graduate of the Coaching for Personal & Professional Mastery program and a Newfield Program Mentor Coach.
What does a divorce coach have to say about love and relationships? We spoke to Marty Raphael, one of our program coaches, to find out:
Couples come to me with a lot of loaded emotions: anger, desire for revenge, feeling wronged. Whether navigating the tides of emotion in a couple committed to staying together or the rough waters of divorce, I find that there are many common skills that are crucial for smoother sailing.
The first essential ingredient needed is a ‘safe space.’ This is when there is an agreement to listen to the other person. Sometimes that requires a coach to help create that space. I have found that once we experience being heard, our hearts open a bit more, and we are more able to receive what the other person is going through.
The second is that couples need to learn conversational competencies. I find the Newfield distinctions for communication to be a really great tool for this. When we understand that conversation is power and that what we say impacts the present moment and the future, we suddenly wake up to what we are saying and the effect it has on our lives. We become mindful to our own internal conversation and to the conversations we are having with our partner.
The next necessary skill for navigating rough waters is how to engage with emotions. Anger is the most common emotion that comes up, but it is usually a cover for sadness. We live in a culture that does whatever possible to avoid grief and grieving. This means that nothing really gets resolved when sadness is buried. When we allow ourselves to go through the grieving process, we realize that in order to have a new beginning, in order to move forward, there are things we need to let go of. Anger often keeps us holding on.
Another valuable skill to develop is the recognition of a “we.” Even divorced couples have a shared future or a “we,” especially if they have children and want to continue co-parenting.
I see the “we” as the collective potential of the couple. It is also a mirror that each person can use to see what aspects of self she/he needs to grow, evolve and integrate. There is a paradox in relationship that is important for couples to recognize: if they meet the needs of “we,” then their individual needs will also get met.
When we have shared goals, we can use these to resolve conflict. Knowing where you want to go helps you see the bigger picture and find a path out of the standstill. It opens up space for the question: “How do we get to there from here?”
When someone wants a divorce and also wants a sane ending in order to foster a new beginning, a divorce coach can help. Even if it’s not about divorce, having a coach can make a tremendous difference for couples going through conflict.
I think one of the most rewarding things for me in this work is the huge impact it has on the future generation. When parents choose to do the hard work—when they chose to transform their worn out dance through coaching—their kids not only avoid the suffering of a bitter divorce but also get a model of something that truly works for when they are ready for their romantic relationships.
About the Author:
Marty Raphael is an Ontological Business Coach and Consultant focusing on social and organizational change. She is also a published author, mediator and speaker on such topics as Global Ethics, How Coaching Impacts Leadership and Complexity and Emotional intelligence in the Workplace. She has been a mentor coach with Newfield since 2001 and a mentor coach with the Institute for Generative Leadership since 2008.
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