4 Reasons I am Obsessed with Sheila and Nate

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Meet Sheila and Nate Duhon…The popular TV series, now airing on Lifetime, Married at First Sight brings people together to be married at…first sight.  When the two people–selected by a panel of relationship “experts”–meet, it is at the altar.  They say “I do,” and then begin the 8-month process of getting to know each other.  Sheila Downs and Nate are an African-American couple who were brought together by the experts.  Their relationship is an intriguing one….here’s why:

Admittedly, I am obsessed with this relationship.  As a relationship coach who works with countless premarital couples, the topic of conflict resolution is one that is discussed over and over.  Sheila and Nate intrigue me because they have no clue how to disagree with each other.

But…they are not alone.

As newlyweds–who do not know each other–they have not only the normal challenges of finding their marital rhythm, but also finding out about he person they have married.  When it comes to conflicts, these two have UGLY arguments, and it is their arguments that I am obsessed with.

 

Reason One:  They profess to love each other.  

It’s great to have love…but we have to keep the love when we disagree.  They don’t.  There have been a myriad of hyper-emotional outbursts, name calling, and statements that are hard to take back.  This is the case with many couples.  The love is real, and it’s true, but there is fear and baggage.  Fear and baggage is the weight that takes a disagreement into a full blown argument.  We don’t want to argue.  Because arguing isn’t healthy, and can be detrimental to our relationship.

Knock down drag out fights are evidence of greater internal issues…it just has to be said…and they need to be dealt with.

Sheila and Nate arguing on their honeymoon

Reason Two: She has already threatened divorce.

NO MA’AM!   They made it through this argument, but “divorce threats” are not easily forgotten.  However, when people are hurt and unable to deal or trust fully, they often threaten to leave.  We all have done this…myself included. #TrueStory

What is underneath this threat–sometimes–is the test to see if this person cares enough to fight for you or stay with you.  Still not a good reason to make the threat.  What is also underneath this threat is a desire to hurt your spouse because you have been hurt.  There is no greater threat to a marriage, THAN the threat of divorce.  Divorce means that I don’t want to share life, do life, or spent my life with you any longer.  That is painful…and if it’s not true, telling the person you are with, committed to and profess to love that you don’t want those things with them any longer is very damaging to any relationship.

So don’t do it…unless you mean it.  And if you mean it…it’s a conversation, not something you yell in the midst of a heated argument.

 

Reason Three: They are alone now.

Both the cameras and the experts are now gone.  This was a shock to me.  How could you leave people who have been married for months alone to deal with their issues, especially, one so major as the inability to handle conflict?  I have already come forth publicly to say that I will coach Sheila and Nate FOR FREE, if need be, because this is not something that they can fix on their own, and because I believe in their relationship.

 

While we do premarital coaching at The Relationship Firm, I am most proud of the couples who return for marital coaching.  The first year of marriage is challenging, and to do it alone (without an unbiased professional), is doable, but having help can make it so much easier.  With Sheila and Nate being on their own, I find myself being concerned about this relationship.  It has good bones, and limitless potential.  But, they have the type of fights that end marriages FAST!  And they need help with that…just like any other newlyweds.

Reason Four: Dear Newlyweds…It can work.

This relationship is not terminal…it is not toxic…it is healthy, I estimate, about 80% of the time, maybe more.  But the fights are toxic…terminal…and unhealthy 100% of the time.  That is the problem, and it isn’t even about them.

The way Sheila and Nate fight is alllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll about their histories.  Relationships that went amuck, unmet expectations, past hurts, and the like.  These have to be dealt with so that Sheila and Nate can deal with each other in an authentic space.  Every couple includes two people who have had experiences prior to this relationship.

It has to be said (and this is only my opinion), that sometimes the more you love someone the more afraid you can become.  You are afraid to lose what you’ve found, and it makes you hyper-sensitive to the issues that come up.  You reflect on the past, and those similarities make you think that you’re about to lose again.  That’s okay.  You are entitled to your feelings and your needs.  We just have to create a strategy where you deal with these issues in a way that keeps this relationship moving in the direction you want.  Otherwise, the fears and baggage continue to weigh down the relationship, and as you struggle through resolving these hurtful exchanges, it gets harder and harder to stay connected and enjoy the great times that your love wants to afford you.

Bottom line for Sheila and Nate, and anyone else who just got married (even not at first sight), is that there is help, and there is no shame in asking for it.  As newlyweds, you have to learn to navigate your life together.  It is a bumpy, winding, twisting, and sometimes even invisible road, but it is worth it…love is always worth it, because love never fails! (A little Biblical reference for you guys! Smile!)

Sheila and Nate…call The Relationship Firm…we can help.  We promise! #ShamelessPlug #ButASeriousOne

Ask Coach Steph: Was My Marriage a Mistake?

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Coach Steph,

Hi! I my name is (NAME WITHHELD) and I am afraid that I have a big problem.  I got married six months ago to a man that I love, and who I thought loved me.  But since the wedding, he has been different.  He’s just not interested in me.  We don’t talk and we don’t go out.  He just comes home and sits in the house.  I have asked what is wrong, and I get a “nothing.”  I don’t know what to do, and now I am wondering if my marriage was a mistake.  I am scared to ask him if he wants a divorce. It’s just been six months.

Help!

-A.K.

Dear A.K.,

I am sorry to hear about your problem.  Recently, I hosted a mediation for a couple in a similar situation, and I am happy to say that now they are doing much better–and planning to stay together.  In your situation, first of all, know that the problem may or may not be you.  Perhaps he is overwhelmed by the new role of husband, or perhaps something has happened financially that is making him distant from you, because he fears he cannot be the husband you want, or that he promised you he would be–men do not do well, when their role of provider is tampered with.

The truth of the matter is, that perhaps you should–CALM AND NICELY–ask him if he wants a divorce (if and only if that feels right).  Asking can remove your fears and stop you from carrying that burden.  Secondly, perhaps being asked such a direct question might coax him into revealing what is really going on with him.  You have to be prepared that he might say yes; however, that is more than likely not the case.

Now…If the divorce question doesn’t feel right–don’t do it, an alternative is to tell him that you’re here and promise to be understanding, whenever he wants to talk…this might also pave the way for him to reveal the issue, if he was afraid of your reaction.  You must keep the promise to be understanding, by the way, or you could cause more damage.

The early stages of a marriage can sometimes be the hardest.  The two of you are merging lives, and trying to build a life together.  This can be stressful, especially if you have been on your own for quite some time.  Consider that this transition is also going on within each of you.  As you move into the roles of husband and wife, understand that most people have no REAL clue what it means to be married.  This is why we offer pre-and post-marital visioning programs, so that couples can set their expectations together, and then live up to them in peaceful co-existence, versus just being married, and having no clue what that means to you individually or collectively.

Check out Allison Vesterfelt’s six tips after six months of marriage…here.

In conclusion, you cannot go on living like this.  I am sure that there is a fair amount of hurt in your heart at this time, and my prayer will be that you’re healed so you may go forward without pain–and the baggage that the pain brings.  Again, I caution you to ask about divorce only if it feels right, and if not don’t.  If you cannot get a meaningful answer from him, I recommend praying and then finding a coach or a counselor–if only for yourself.  Whatever has changed him is substantial, and saving a marriage is no easy feat.  But, continue to walk in love, and keep your household a place of peace, and keep smiling…very soon, this will pass–one way or another.

Keep me posted.

 

4 Reasons Your Marriage (Might) Fail… (Twosday@TRF)

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If you’ve been paying attention, it seems that everyone is getting married…EVERYONE.  And, while there are still hot debates on who should and should not be able to enjoy nuptial bliss, this article is not about that.

Marriage is a very important union between two people.  While it has been reduced to something you “just do,” and then use a swift divorce to get out of it, it’s so much more than that.  And, perhaps this article will help you see that.  Well, enough with the small talk…let’s get to some reasons…

Reason one: You have NO CLUE who you married.  Now, this is more than likely your fault, sorry, it just has to be said.  This seems to be the biggest cause of marriage failures, because people insist on bucking the order of things.  As any six could tell you, “first comes love, THEN comes marriage, THEN the baby carriage.” But that’s not how we do things now.  Most people have baby carriages and then marriage, but love (or even like) is no where in the equation.  We’re marrying people we don’t know because we “mightaswell.”  As such is the case, the due diligence necessary to learn about a person is never done.  And, then you walk down the aisle and start a future with someone who is NOT who you think (or want) them to be.

Reason two: You really just wanted a wedding.  Ah! Such a beautiful event.  The dress, the food, the attention, the gifts–all for you.  It’s easy to see how this happens, and unfortunately, some people loved the wedding, but hate the marriage.  While this may seem silly to some, there are people who just wanted the experience of getting married, and now their marriage is either failing or has failed.  Five words: Don’t…let…this…be…you!

Reason three: You’ve taken marriage advice from married people.  I say it often, “just because you are married, doesn’t mean that you know how to be.”  Some married people will give you flawed advice.  EVERYTHING from take revenge on your spouse to just leave your spouse.  Here’s the problem: it’s not their marriage!  The tenets of your marriage (which my clients explore in marital visioning and pre-marital coaching), are not the tenets of someone else’s marriage.  Stop believing that because someone has been married for “X” more years than you have, that they have the secret to your success.  Married people should seek unbiased support when encountering marital challenges, not the advice of those who could cause more harm than good.  Am I saying that all married people give flawed advice…not at all.  But, I am saying, that you should scrutinized the advice you receive, and if there’s not a stitch of encouragement or support in their statements to you…RUN!

Reason four: Communication has gone out the window.  Everyone knows that communication is required for any relationship to survive.  However, in a marriage, communication takes many different forms.  The communication that I am talking about, is the communication of needs and expectations.  During a marriage, people continue to evolve and to learn about themselves–this is good.  What is not good is when the other spouse is unaware.  Communicating needs and expectations is an ongoing process in a successful marriage, and when your spouse meets your needs and expectations, then celebrating them is in order.  In fact, communication and celebration go hand in hand in a marriage–don’t think otherwise.  Everyone needs a pat on the back (or lower, if that’s a need-smile).

In the end, these are just 4 of many reasons your marriage could fail, but it doesn’t have to.  We help marriages in crisis all the time with mediations and coaching, so reading this article could be a turning point in your marital relationship.  Remember, you avoid bad relationships (and marriages) when you get FIRM. www.TheRelationshipFirm.com

For The LOVE of Demi?

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The Celebrity Love Notes continue, and as another relationship bites the proverbial dust…I am here to give you some real considerations to avoid the mistakes you see in today’s headlines.

My Take:
This relationship had a good foundation.  Ashton seem to assimilate seamlessly into the Moore-Willis clan, and and Demi’s new physique didn’t hurt Ashton’s ego on the red carpet.

Now, I always picture Demi Moore emascualtingAshton beyond reproach, because at some point she knows that she could be his mother, and no amount of Kabbalah (or whatever she does) will change that.  Ashton, while a good Midwestern boy, can only take so much, and I think that this intolerance is what we see manifested in the now pending divorce for this A-list couple.

Well…that and something about the paparazzi and another woman…tsk-tsk.

If either of them were my client:
First of all, Demi and I have somethings to work on because this is her third marriage.  She is old enough to know what she wants in a relationship, but is still failing at marriage–which means that it’s not all their fault.  She, like my good friend JLo, might have some similar issues when it comes to understanding the purpose of marriage and how to sustain one.

Additionally, I need to confirm my suspicions about her ability to make a man feel like a tiny, little, impotent boy before she leaves many more casualties in the wake of her post-Ashton singleness.

One last thing, we have to establish is that she, nor Ashton are single at this point.  As I have told you before breakups and divorces are likened to death, and this is a time of mourning.  Matters not what he did, or she said, or she did, and he said, this relationship must be grieved and time must be taken to heal from it. Period. 

Now Ashton seems like a good guy.  He’s got good Midwestern roots, and an amusing personality.  If you’ve seen his pre-Demi modeling footage, then you know he’s not hard on the eyes either.

So, Ashton, what’s the problem here?

Ashton hadn’t been married before Demi and this isn’t a good or a bad thing, it just is.  But something has changed this 6-year relationship, and I need to know his role in those changes.

Once we establish what his present mistakes, and mis-takes have contributed to the failure of this marriage, we’ll look to the future.  I would probably give him about 6-9 months to get himself together and then start doing some Connestions (my version of  “matchmaking”) with mature, non-celebrity women his own age.  Emphasis on his OWN age.

What we can all learn from this:
We can all learn that marriages are challenging.  Ashton recently tweeted, I will forever cherish the time I spent with Demi. Marriage is one of the most difficult things in the world and unfortunately sometimes they fail. Love and Light, AK”  If such is the case, and you cherish the time, why did you do anything to bring this to an end.

Understand that there are some things that should end a marriage, and some things that are challenges we should overcome.  We have become too spoiled with our relationships, and in the process, are ready to diss and dismiss at the slightest sign of trouble.  We have got to be committed to our relationships. 

Now, it’s not fair for me to judge the fault in this relationship, because I know neither of these individuals personally.  However, if they didn’t make a valiant effort to save this union, then both are at fault. If they’re getting divorced over an issue that existed prior to the marriage, then they shouldn’t have gotten friggin married!

Again, marriage is a MAGNIFIER of what is right and wrong in a relationship (Coach Stephism).  Nothing changes because you got married, it just becomes a bigger joy or a larger P.I.T.A.

So, we say farewell to the couple known as Demi and Ashton.  No more sappy tweets, and group red carpet pics…it’s all over now.  But since the two of them will soon be running around Hollywood making new headlines, I hope that they both get themselves together.

Oh yea, I won’t miss those tweets!

LOL!

Celebrity Love Note No.3: Oh Jenny!

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So..today I am speaking “to” good ol’ Jenny from the Block…check it out!

My Take:
This whole marriage concept is totally out of hand.  It seems as if Jennifer Lopez uses marriage to her advantage.  The first mistake is using it to her advantage.

 I don’t know if many of you know this, but a marriage is supposed to produce something positive in the world.  Not just children, but actually greatness.  Sum of you two, should be greater than your parts.  So, to use it to your advantage, is not the correct use of the institution.

 It is very irresponsible to continue to enter into a union that doesn’t last.  At some point, you have to admit that it’s not all about them.  You have some definitive fault in why these marriages aren’t working and going the distance.  Are you choosing the wrong men?  Is marriage just something you do? Do you love weddings?  What is the problem because clearly, there is one.

 Now that’s not to say that the individuals Jennifer marries are perfect.  But, really did the Latino busboy (AKA Hubby Number One) stand a chance?  That poor man was thrust from plastic runners to red carpets with a short period of time to adapt to the change, and when Jennifer’s career took off, eventually the marriage was left in the dust.

Some would say there is a pattern here.

If she were my client:
We would have to look very closely at these relationships before they were marriages, and explore why she thought this guy was husband material.  After discovering that answer, I am pretty sure that we need to explore her expectations for a husband, and if they are realistic.  We’ve all heard the stories of J-Lo’s outrageous performance riders, and perks for her entourage, it is possible that she asks outlandish things of her mate?  Does she think it’s over if he misses a 10 p.m. curfew?  Or if he doesn’t draw her bath at 81.3 degrees exactly?  Of course, I am over exaggerating (at least I hope that I am), but if anything remotely similar exists then we need to nip these things in the bud.

I also want to explore her vision for a marital relationship.  What are her beliefs about marriage founded upon?  What role does she play in bringing the vision to pass?  I will be whipping out all kinds of tools on Jenny from the Block…from Relationship Wheels to my beloved SWOT Analysis, I am going to work her until I get to the bottom of this nonsense.

 What we can learn from all of this:
Marriage is not something to be taken lightly.  Additionally, it is not something to be taken at all if we are not with someone we can see going old with.  One of my favorite tweets reads, “people are not getting divorced because marriage doesn’t work; they are getting divorced because they never should’ve gotten married.” 

Don’t be yet another person who engages in this new concept of marriage: the hobby.  You have to realize that marriage goes back to the Garden of Eden.  And if Adam can get over Eve talking to that snake and bringing him some bad fruit (with some pretty serious consequences), then we should be able to create marriages that last and overcome the challenges that two people inevitable will face when they say, “I do.”

Then again, maybe you adore Jennifer and see no problem with her getting married and getting divorced.

THIS JUST IN: I just read that it’s speculated that Marc Anthony and Jennifer’s divorce is over the educational plan for their twins—translation: what school the twins should go to?

 Seriously? 

 Well, perhaps the fourth time is the charm.

 Good luck, chica!