Ask Coach Steph: Was My Marriage a Mistake?

Social Share Toolbar

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.



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.


Aspen Wedding of Josh Altman

Celebrity Love Notes: Introducing Heather and Josh Altman

Social Share Toolbar

Image result for josh altman marriageJosh Altman and Heather Bilyeu (the soon to be Mrs. Josh Altman) are one of the newest power couples in LA!  Both successful realtors, viewers see multi-million dollar real estate deals delivered each week by Josh and Heather on Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles (#MDLLA).  They have done a great job keeping business and “pleasure” separate, as Josh works for one agency and she with The Agency, owned by the amazingly attractive and successful husband, of Kyle Richards (of Real Housewives Beverly Hills fame)–Mauricio Umansky (

However, recently, Josh and his brother decided to open a new real estate venture, appropriately named “The Altman Brothers,” and much to Heather’s chagrin, Josh decided that for the sake of their relationship, she will not be involved.

Of course, she was disappointed…make that a little shy of furious.

Despite the 82% (I read somewhere) that agree with Heather, I am going on record that  I agree ONE MILLION PERCENT with Josh!

It takes a very special couple to work and to “play” together.  In a business like real estate, which is competitive (and can be cutthroat), working together could pose some challenges.  The challenges at work, then become the challenges at home, and it’s down hill from there.  Consider the challenges that Heather endured with Madison, if those same issues emerged between Heather and another agent at The Altman Brothers, businessman Josh, then morphs into super-protective fiancé or new husband  Josh Altman, and we have a problem…a big one.  I personally, hate to see Josh when he’s not calm, cool and collected, and I can only imagine how wrong that can go in real life.

Hopefully, Heather has seen the light (since this was taped many moons ago), and recognizes that being separate in their professional endeavors will allow them to have professional happenings to share during their quality times at home, but will also keep them from having their personal lives overrun by real estate.  As a couple, it is imperative that this time is used to get to know each other –even better than they do now.  This is the time for deep discussions about our future and our children, NOT to be distracted by some deal that went South the day before, nor to explore the quickest way to entice a buyer for a $20.2 million compound in the Hollywood Hills.

What anyone can learn from this situation, is that if you have a significant other who is actively taking responsibility for the success of the relationship, then that is a good thing…this is what Josh did.  I give Josh kudos for standing up for his relationship and saying that working together may create situations that may impact our ability to stay together.  I give Heather kudos for being upset at first, but accepting the reality and–even if she doesn’t mean it–showing solidarity with Altman’s decision.  Ultimately, this is what marriage is about–being teammates.  As such is the case, “Team Altman-Bilyeu” is on the right track.



Update: Josh and Heather wed in 2016 after a three-year engagement.  Congrats!

Celebrity Love Notes: FUSTERCLUCK! Three Couples that should NEVER be your Role Models

Social Share Toolbar

Update: This list will continue in a another installment. 😉

It’s no secret, television impacts our relationships. When shows like “Donna Reed”, and “Father Knows Best” blessed the airwaves, people wanted strong marriages, nice houses and picket fences.  Even though we now know of the “Brady Bunch’s” off-screen antics, their saccharin-sweet show was a pioneer in showing people that a blended family could work.  Then came the iconic “Cosby Show” a family that many Americans at that time could identify with–and most wanted to be like.


Unfortunately, there are new shows every season, and some of my favorites, display some of the most dysfunctional relationships ever.  So, let me make it clear what doesn’t work by showing you at least three  (although there are soooooooo many more) that should never be your relationship role models.

Up first…Carrie Bradshaw and “Mr. Big;” To this day, I watch Sex and the City and wonder why we thought this was a good idea.  As the show progressed, we saw the pure dysfunction of this relationship, but since it ultimately ended in marriage, now many single women believe that if I just give it some time (even a decade), it will work out.

Why they cannot be your role models: Carrie and Big were never honest about their feelings.  When situations arose, they were not dealt with in a  mature manner.  If you remember, the first wedding ceremony was cancelled because of how Big was feeling.  This is not adult behavior.  While smoothed over by placing the blame on a statement by Miranda and Carrie’s selfish Vogue article, know that in real life, this relationship is probably not viable long-term.  No one has the time to constantly decipher what is going on with their mate.  And, if you do…it might be time to call me.

Next…Meredith and Derrick: Grey’s Anatomy has kept us intrigued for quite some with these two and their shenanigans.  Again, another dysfunctional relationship culminating with “I do.”  Another example of a relationship that doesn’t work unless someone is yelling cut and there’s a team of writers in a back room.

Why they cannot be your role models: This relationship was built on sex.  These people didn’t know a thing about each other.  But, the sex endeared them to each other.  If Meredith hadn’t slept with Derrick, (and these were real people), when she found out he was married, it probably would’ve been the end of the relationship.

Sex changes things, and usually it starts with your vision.

When you can see a relationship clearly, it cannot take over your life, and you stand a better chance of avoiding the “fustercluck” of it all.

I will save Scandal for another time–because some things go with saying…even if he is the President of the United States.

Lastly (for this part)…Tamara and Eddie: The way that reality TV has taken over our ability to think straight is horrific.  But, to be fair, I have to give a bit of attention to one of the most dysfunctional relationships on our small screens.  And, they too, are now married.

Why they cannot be your role models: Sadly, the foundation of this relationship doesn’t seem solid.  Unlike the previous couples, these are real people, and from the beginning, there was utter confusion.  Tamara chose to be with Eddie, instead of mourning the end of her marriage to Simon.  Eddie never exposed his machismo side…until recently.  Now, the reality (no pun intended) is setting in, and I am afraid that this marriage doesn’t have the strong foundation it needs to survive.

Ultimately, we should do our best to leave the sex out of our relationships until we know the person THOROUGHLY with their clothes on….or until he puts a ring on it (and not just an engagement ring).  But, most people don’t want to hear or do that, so many are doomed to deal with real issues after the I do…and they might start to think that they don’t.  Not only does the sex impact the relationship, but the inability to communicate difficulties or challenges is a red flag for your relationship’s future.  Communication can make and break any relationship–and has.  So, don’t be a victim.  When someone shows you who they are, believe them (Maya Angelou).

But that’s all for now…back to your relationships…Coach Steph Has Spoken!

I am “Keeping it Real With NeNe!”

Social Share Toolbar

This last Celebrity Love Note is dedicated to NeNe Leakes.  The loud mouth “Housewife” whom Bravo saw fit to make famous continues to do her level best to make my good black woman stock plummet.  In the midst of it all, she is now going through a divorce, and so this love note is written in hopes that other newly divorced individuals do not make the mistakes that I believe she is on the verge of making, among others.

My take:
NeNe’s marriage was allegedly destroyed by fame.  Now, that doesn’t mean that her husband was perfect.  I actually believe that he is a clear demonstration of her father issues, and the need for control, but I digress.  This marriage may have stood a chance if the Real Housewives franchise hadn’t come a’calling, but it’s not the show, it’s the fame that NeNe has received courtesy of the show that is the start of the problems, in my opinion.

But fast-forward to the present.  NeNe and Greg are separated and my assumption is that divorce proceedings are going to be taking place.  Note: Taking place.  They are not divorced…yet.  While some would tell her things such as, “the best way to get over one man is to get undera new one,” this is farthest from the truth.  In fact, this isn’t the time to get over anything, it’s time for you to figure out your role in the breakup of this marriage (how many times have I said this this week).  And furthermore, this is not the time to date…anyone…for any amount of time.  Sorry, sweetie, but you are still married.

Now, I understand that you have dysfunction all around you.  Cynthia’s farce of a marriage is enough to make anyone think that if you do better than that, then you’ve done okay; however, don’t be fooled.  We all saw your tirade regarding the treatment that you’ve received in this marriage.  But, NeNe, I doubt severely that you know how to be a wife.  If you treated your husband even remotely as badly as you have treated some of your co-stars, and fellow Apprentices, I can say with all conviction that being married to you was no walk in the park (more like a walk over burning coals).  Besides the stripper-esque sexual prowess that you’ve bragged about, what else did you bring to the table besides a child and a need to get out of Athens, Georgia?  As such is the case, perhaps this marriage was doomed from the start–TV just expedited the inevitable.

If she were my client:
I’d need a Valium.  Ok, let’s be fair.  If NeNe Leakes came to me for relationship coaching.  I would take away her ego, and put a muzzle on her.  Not literally.  However, NeNe has to learn how to communicate like an adult woman, or she doesn’t have to worry about relationships–platonic or romantic.  I believe that she wants people to prove that they love her by walking through fire, and not getting burned.  That’s quite a fete, even for a Cirque du Soleil cast member, but I truly believe that is what she desires.  For those without fire-walker capabilities, there’s NeNe’s Worship Club.  These individuals exist to answer her beck and call and maintain her ego.  The President of the Worship Club? You guessed it, Cynthia Bailey.  We’ll see how that relationship works out in the coming weeks. Hmmmmm…

Now, the fire-walking mandate is just plain ridiculous.  No one can live up to those standards.  No one has lived up to those standards.

Until we (she and I) can push through these unrealistic relationship expectations, NeNe shouldn’t even think about dating.  She should keep her focus on acting dignified through the divorce, and being the parent that her children need.  Not being “rich;” not buying $9 million homes in Miami; not appeasing her fans with over-the-top theatrics, and not criticizing everyone in Atlanta, but crying “haters” every five minutes.

I need her to do better.

What we can all learn from this:
Separation is not divorced.  Getting divorced is not divorced. Let’s be clear.

What else we can learn?  Our mouths can kill every relationship that we have.  There is no way that anyone can convince me that NeNe hasn’t unleashed hers on her soon to be ex-husband.  But beyond that, we should all learn that we should pay very close attention to the behaviors of the people in our lives, before we become involved with them. 

Men: If the woman you’re involved with has no problem telling people off, guess what, you are not immune to receiving the same treatment (please share this with Lamar Odom about his beloved Khloe).  If that’s not an attractive proposition, then don’t get involved.  If you want to test the theory, then let the first time she emasculates you with profane or insulting words be the last time.  This is not something that gets better.

Women: Being the girl who will tell everyone off is amusing, but it’s not attractive.  A real man will not be attracted to your ability to cuss everyone out at the drop of a dime.  I realize that you are a strong woman and want to let people know that you don’t put up with anything, but consider working on how you deliver such messages, and only “go there” when the situation truly calls for it. If you are around people who always seem to push you to that point, then get some new people in your life, and leave this dysfunction behind.

In the end, we have to respect each other–words and all.  Otherwise, we are all doomed to walk the path that NeNe is walking right now. And even in the cutest Louboutins, its not a journey that anyone wants to take.