Most every pastor at some point in their ministry deals with people who are having problems in their marriage. Most every pastor is asked to officiate a marriage and along with that duty comes a time of sitting down with the couple and talking about the expectations of marriage. Normally it's called counseling and it's just part of the job of being a pastor. It's a hard job because the inclination is to tell the couple how to fix the problem, or give them 'how to's' that will help them live a happily-ever-after married life. Sometimes all your talk is good for nothing and you're left feeling you have failed at saving that marriage or preparing that couple for the marriage journey.
Marriage coaching is a different approach that can help you help the couple to focus on the present and move forward, to figure out what will work best for them as a couple. Rev. Joel Oliver, ACC (ICF), CCLC, has developed and uses The One Thing Marriage Coaching Model as a tool in his role as a pastor and a coach to help people to have great marriages. He has graciously agreed to share this tool with you and we pray it will benefit you and the people you serve.
Coaching Changes Everything
Since 2010, I was happily pastoring our church and blessed to be doing so. I had just come off a two-year term of being the Presbyter for the Assembly of God churches in our city. Our District leadership offered me the opportunity to attend a two-day coach training session put on by Coach Approach Ministries for their 501 course. I prayed about it and decided to attend. By the end of the first day's training, I remember telling myself, “Whatever this guy is talking about and doing, that’s what I want to talk about to others and do for others”. I was hooked and started my coaching journey full throttle.
I remember asking myself, “How can what I am learning impact what I am currently doing, so I can do it better?” I became determined to figure out how to start “drawing out” rather than “pouring into” people. God quickly spoke to me about my passion and purpose for helping marriages become great marriages. I was convinced that moving to a 'coach approach' to help marriages become great marriages would be more effective and fruitful. Let me tell you how it works, and how it will benefit the people you serve.
The Intake Session is to make sure the couple is suitable for marriage coaching and that you are the right coach for them. It establishes the Macro Coaching Purpose and the logistics of the marriage coaching. Beyond asking questions to establish the above, a typical Intake Session will include these questions or a variation of them:
C.H.A.I.N MODEL ™ FOR MARRIAGE COACHING
In the Connect Step, the wife and then her spouse is given up to 5 minutes each to share the one thing for that session that they want each other to know (this establishes their focus for the session). The listening spouse is asked not to speak, but to listen only. Both are asked to write down questions that they will ask. Some instruction on how to listen is given by the Coach to the couple.
In the Hear Step, first the husband and then the wife are given 10 minutes to ask any questions that they might want to ask of their spouse. The Coach will give some instruction on how to ask good powerful open-ended questions. The Coach may also ask questions that facilitate the discussion and keep it moving forward. The Coach may also make appropriate direct statements when needed and with their permission. The Coach also must be ready to get the couple back on track if they stop moving forward and start going back to the past.
In the Articulate Step, the goal is for both the husband and the wife to name their greatest need to improve as a husband or wife, in ways that will honor both of their values. The Coach must be ready to use appropriate strategies that will facilitate this process.
In the Implement Step, the Coach can really make an impact. The Coach helps facilitate a dialog between the husband and wife that centers on developing personal S.M.A.R.T. action steps and S.M.A.R.T. action steps that they can work on together for a WIN-WIN.
In the Notice Step, the Coach has the couple restate and reframe what progress has been made, and to make commitments with time lines for their action steps . The Coach helps the couple to celebrate wins.
The goal of marriage coaching goes beyond the coaching relationship of the Coach and the couple. The goal is that the couple will relearn how to communicate. The real success marker of marriage coaching is when the couple learns the coaching techniques that will allow them to have a 'One Thing' conversation with each other as often as needed, now and in the future.
Masterful coaching changes everything including marriages.
“What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.” (Matthew 19:6)
Note: I developed this model and want to give special thanks to influences from Coach Approach Ministry (Bill Copper and Chad Hall-501 and 503 ™) , CoachNet Global C.H.A.I.N. Model ™ (Used by permission of Jonathan Reitz), Jeff and Jill William’s book “Marriage Coaching” and Stephen R. Covey’s book “The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People”.
Joel A. Oliver ACC, CCLC is the President of Insight Coaching STL, Training Coordinator of the SMD Coaching Network Coach, and a CoachNet Global ™ Coach Trainer. Feel free to email him with comments, or go to Insight Coaching STL to learn more.
This article appeared in the Summer/Fall 2016 edition of the online Christian Coaching Magazine and is reprinted here with permission of the author.