That is a question a lot of my clients ask me; what if my partner finds out that I am having a session with you? I encourage them to speak openly and honestly with their partner. Although people speak about intensely intimate topics with me…nothing of a sexual nature happens. Although I am at my best when working with couples in a cooperative session…one where both partners are equally committed to the process, I m also able to help a relationship, even if both partners do not participate in sessions with me.
In an ideal world, men and women who are in a monogamous, committed relationship would each attend 1-3 sessions with me individually and then I would have 1-3 sessions with the couple together. Unfortunately, we do not live in an ideal world. In the past, I had a boundary set. I did not work with individuals who were in a committed relationship, wanted intimacy coaching from me and were not planning on communicating with their partner about their session(s).
I created this boundary in an attempt to honour the wishes of both partners in a relationship. It wasn’t functional and I realized that every client I see needs to be able to make decisions independent of their partner. I am an advocate for loving connection, deep intimacy with oneself and another…I am absolutely head over heals in love with love. With that intention held in my heart, it is hard for me to work with a person who is not comfortable sharing with their partner, but that is not my decision to make.
Yesterday, while I was shopping with my 11-year-old and her best friend, I received a frantic, angry and slightly volatile call from an unknown woman calling from an unrecognized number. To say it was intense is an understatement. She was yelling at me, asking what exactly it is that I do and demanding to know if I had a session with her partner last week. Due to my confidentiality policy, I was unable to tell her whether or not I had a session with her partner, but I was able to explain my work to her.
As she was in the middle of an emotional breakdown, I accidentally said out loud “Honestly, it really sounds like you and your partner could use an Intimacy Coaching session with me.” I can be a bit blunt at times. My pleasant, albeit forward suggestion was not well received. She calmed down a little when I said that if she wanted to continue our discussion, she would need to wait until I had finished shopping with my daughter.
She apologized briefly and hung up. During our conversation, she had mentioned that her partner had told her she had a session with me…So I text messaged him and told him that until he gave me written permission to share the focus of our session with his girlfriend, I was unable to discuss the details with her. I also asked that he not book another session with me until he had sorted things out with his partner. It is one thing to work with someone who does not feel comfortable communicating about their session with their partner…it is a whole different thing to work with someone whose partner is 100% against it and has directly communicated that with me.
I sent my text and moved on with my day. Between my oldest daughter’s flu and my youngest daughter’s sleep over, I was up until about 3 am this morning. Because I have children, I keep my cell beside my bed. This morning, just before 7 am my phone rang. I picked up and it was the same woman again. This time she was slightly more calm…and open to communicating with me. honestly, I must admit, this exchange was a tad gender biased. Had a random enraged husband called me to chat at 7 am I would have likely shut the conversation down.
We talked for almost 30 minutes. Understandably so, she was very focused on the honesty aspect of the issue. After laying in bed contemplating her situation I sent her a very long-winded text message. I started by saying that I was speaking with her as a woman who has been in a deeply satisfying long-term monogamous marriage, not as an Intimacy Coach. To sum it up, I told her that, as I see it, she has 3 options…Love it, Hate it, or Leave it; the relationship, that is. I was fairly certain by how much she clearly cares about this man that she is going to stay.
That narrows it down to only two options…hate the relationship or love the relationship. I recommended that she at least attempt to let go of the honestly aspect of their conflict and focus on what her needs are and what her partner’s needs are. In almost any relationship issue, if we let go of what our story is…and we simply focus on each partner’s needs…things tend to go much more smoothly. The intention of communication is to work things out and come to a mutually beneficial understanding…getting caught in anger and the details of the situation isn’t always effective.
To make a long story short…I ended my text by saying “If I have managed to piss you off more, I apologize, that is not my intention. I wish you only happiness in life and in your relationship. Peace.” She responded (I already knew she was at work) by saying that I had not pissed her off, but she was at work and couldn’t respond at the moment. It makes my heart sing to think that, although it began as a rocky clash…my involvement…wanted or unwanted by the two individuals in this relationship…may help them open up and grow closer.
I also suggested that they try to open and communicate on a deeper and more truthful level than they had been able to in the past. Who knows? I may never hear back from either of them. I wish them growth, expansive love, forgiveness and re-connection. At first, this situation made me feel burdened. Like a heavy weight on my shoulders…but after it evolved and the lines of communication opened up, it made me feel honored to do the work that I do…even when it is tough.
That’s all she wrote…Peace, Joy