EP 375: His Story: Part 2 of a three-part Couples Coaching Series with Jimmy

This episode is the second of a three-part couples coaching series. Christine coaches Claire and Jimmy separately, and then together in Part 3. In today’s call, with Jimmy, he explores the things from his childhood that may make commitment a bit hard for him.

It is okay if we have conflict. It is okay if plans need to be rearranged. It is okay if you unintentionally disappoint someone. There is a difference between promising someone you will be somewhere and not showing up versus having to renegotiate an agreement.

It is reframing conflict into clarification. Because not every situation, conversation, or engagement with someone that we think is going to be stressful is. If we go in thinking something is going to be confrontational, that the other person is going to be upset, or that it is not going to go well, we limit the possibilities. But if we go in seeking clarification, or as a renegotiation of a commitment, then it becomes an entirely different conversation.

When we find a safe space on our own, we don’t necessarily default to an avoidant attachment style, although it can happen. What we default to is that it is safer on our own. Intimacy or really committing to making plans is challenging. If we add in that we don’t want to disappoint anyone as a sort of reason or even a subconscious excuse not to make plans, not to get closer, then we have a great wall of protection built around us. It can prevent us from going to deeper levels of intimacy with others.

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Consider/Ask Yourself:

  • Are you sometimes commitment-phobic?
  • Do you love the idea of plans but when it comes to making them, it’s hard, or wish your partner would make plans and you don’t understand why they don’t?
  • Do you relate to being a lone wolf and find it hard to be in relationship because you sometimes do better on your own? And, although you want love, commitment, and relationship, at the same time you don’t want to disappoint anyone?
  • Do you not do things for fear of disappointing people but then you end up disappointing them anyway?

Jimmy’s Question:

Jimmy wonders if there isn’t more at play when he and Claire struggle with planning things together.

Jimmy’s Key Insights and Ahas:

  • When he gets pressed or pushed he feels blocked and withdraws.
  • He is worried his responsibilities hinder him from showing up responsibly.
  • He fears letting Claire down.
  • He is taking steps to adjust his work calendar.
  • His schedule to see his children is fluid.
  • It is important that he shows up responsibly for work.
  • His father wasn’t present for him in childhood.
  • He wants to show up for his daughters.
  • He has a pattern of avoiding conflict.
  • He wants harmony in his life.
  • At 14, he helped parent his siblings and worked outside of the home.
  • He didn’t have anyone looking out for him growing up.
  • He enjoys being committed but not committed.
  • He likes to be spontaneous.
  • He can see why Claire feels the way she does.
  • He is scared of intimacy.
  • His identity, confidence, and worth are tied to his work.
  • He has an opportunity for intimacy.

How to Get Over It and On With It:

  • Reframe how he thinks about conflict.
  • Think about renegotiating plans as clarifying conversations.
  • Ask 14-year-old Jimmy what he is scared of.
  • Consider what kind of relationship he desires.


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