Yesterday morning I hurt my back while making breakfast. I’d bent down to get something from the pantry’s bottom shelf and suddenly found myself in pain and unable to move. Long story short I was in bed for most of yesterday icing my lower back and resting it. I needed help going to the bathroom, I could only wash one hand at a time, it was a whole ordeal. It was strangely familiar to be back in that place where I was unable to do much for myself or anyone else.

Today it’s doing better and has gotten more so throughout the day. I’ve stayed in bed still for most of the day and it was thankfully one of those Saturdays where there wasn’t much happening in the way of activities. Yesterday I watched a Zoom meeting from the couple who did our marriage intensive two summers ago. They’re starting a program where you can sign up to train with them on learning how to be a marriage coach. I was very much interested in doing this until I saw the price which was over $2,000.

The cost of the marriage intensive when we did it was $3,500. The price has now been raised to nearly $5,000. To me that just seems way too expensive. I’m not going to judge why people do things or in this case choose to make their living. They’ve very good at what they do and I owe so much of where I’m at to what I learned from them. Their marriage intensive was a gift to us, fully paid for. In many ways I feel an obligation to pay it forward, not in a legalistic sense, but in a “I want to share what I was given” sense.

One of the questions that came up during the video was someone wondering the difference between their specific marriage coaching program versus going to counseling. One of the positives of coaching was that, if you choose to, you can continue contact with the couple in real time. This was one of the benefits they offered with the intensive, that is, two months of after-care where they are available via text for you to reach out to them for help if you needed coaching or help in a particularly challenging situation.

The rationale for this was that it takes time and practice to learn new patterns so they are there if needed as you begin to implement what you’ve learned. They said they’ve never had anyone abuse this privilege. I did find this interesting because having boundaries with clients is one of the biggest things they stress in school. You would never give out your personal phone number for clients to text you. You don’t have contact with clients in between sessions (not as rule, it’s just how it works out in practice). When sessions “terminate”, then you’re done.

The other difference they mentioned is the fact that in marriage coaching, if you choose, you can bring your story into it. Not that it becomes all about you and your story, but you can use your story and the things you’ve gone through in your own life and marriage to offer solidarity and to illustrate points. Counselors, on the other hand, leave their stories out. Self-disclosure isn’t something to be banned or completely avoided, but something you do with discretion, and only if you perceive it helpful for the person.

All that to say, I can see the advantages of both. It is important for us to keep in mind that just because we’ve gone through something doesn’t make us qualified to deal with every problem a couple might show up with. This was acknowledged in the video and something they also teach in school. There’s awareness needed to know when something is out of your league and needs referring. What I find superior in the marriage intensive format is that it significantly speeds up the counseling process of (hopefully) putting the couple on a healing track.

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