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Why I am an Optimist About Marriage

By Debbie Preece

As a marriage coach, I recently started working with a couple whose marriage was very troubled. A tremendous amount of anger and pain had built up over many years of unhappiness and frustration. Towards the end of our session I felt the need to give them some reassurance that even though their marriage was very troubled, there still was hope that it could be turned around.

I decided to use an analogy based on watching the reality show, “My 600-Lb Life.” This show is about people who are morbidly obese and their battles to lose weight with the help of experts. In the show their personal backgrounds are showcased including their families, their environments, and their histories of how they got to this point. Viewers also watch their progress in losing weight over a period of time and their battles and obstacles along the way.

In addition to working with very troubled marriages, I also help couples who just need some “tweaking” in their relationships. In these cases, it doesn’t take tons of effort for the couples to make their marriages more satisfying. Simple changes such as spending regular time together, improving their communication, or spicing up their sex life can go a long way towards bringing back the spark and connection they once had.

Similarly, when a fitness coach works with a client who needs to lose a small amount of weight such as 10 or 15 pounds, the coach’s job is relatively easy. For instance, she may coach her client on making simple changes in his diet and help him design a program of regular exercise. The coach knows that her client has not always been overweight and just needs to replace unhealthy habits with healthier ones. She clearly sees the potential of her client to reach his ideal weight and therefore is confident that with her help, he will.

However, when confronted with someone with a much greater weight problem like those in “My 600-Lb Life,” the coach’s job is not so simple. She will have to take into account many other factors that are contributing to the weight problem. For instance, she’ll have to deal with any obstacles that are preventing him from losing weight – maybe a mother who regularly brings home donuts and other high fat foods, sabotaging his efforts to lose weight. Also, most likely her client has low self-esteem, depression, and a sense of hopelessness that will have to be addressed in order to make progress.

Although the coach’s challenge in the second situation is greater, she does not view it as hopeless. Like her moderately overweight client, she knows that he was not always this way and that his obesity is the result of unhealthy habits over a period of time. She sees the potential of her heavier client to reach a healthier weight just as with her other client, although she realizes that it will take more time and effort, and it will be more complicated. But she is optimistic that with the right support her more challenged client will be able to conquer his weight problem just as her other client.

Likewise, as a marriage coach, I see the potential in all of my clients to regain a happy and fulfilling marriage, no matter the severity of their present problems. As in the analogy above, I know that they were not always unhappy in their marriages. On the contrary, they married the person they are with because of the blissfulness they experienced when they were together. Also, I understand that they arrived at this point of unhappiness through a series of negative behaviors that eroded their marriage over time. Therefore, to reverse the damage and get the marriage back on track, new healthy habits of relating need to be put into practice.

Working with a couple in a very troubled marriage may be more complicated than working with a couple that just needs some “tweaking.” But that never means that it is hopeless. It may require more patience, time and effort, and may be more complicated. More issues may have to be explored and more effort required for the damage done over years to be healed.

A fitness coach keeps her eyes on the future and her sights on her client’s ideal weight. As a marriage coach, my vision for each couple I work with is also on the future and never focused on the present troubles that they are experiencing. I know that this couple once had a happy marriage, and that with the right help they can have an even greater marriage at the other end of the bumpy road. This is why I’m an optimist about marriage.