Recently, I sat down with Alisha Walker, one of half of the dynamic duo known as the Marriage Coaches. Alisha, a Licensed Professional Counselor, and her husband Ben, a minister, are on a mission to help couples create strong, healthy life-time commitments to marriage. I had the privilege of meeting Alisha last fall at Blogalicious Weekend in Washington, DC. When she told me about her and her husband’s practice and their mission to strengthen marriages, I knew I wanted to introduce her to my readers.
Tell me a little about The Marriage Coaches.
We work primarily with people who are married or engaged to help enrich and save their marriages. We also work with singles before they get engaged. Our belief is if you know more about how to make marriage work, you can prevent some of the issues that married people struggle with.
Want want people to learn what marriage is supposed to really be about. In premarital counseling we talk about the fairy tale versus the reality. Too many people are caught up in the fairy tale of marriage but what we strive to do is show you what marriage really looks like. It’s not about the fairy tale!
In addition to your counseling practice, you and your husband are very active in social media.
Yes, we have the website, we have a radio program and of course we are on Facebook and Twitter. We want to talk about the positive side of marriage. There is too much bad press out there about marriage. We want to be able to offer tools for people to use at home, church, or their men’s or women’s group- where ever.
What prompted you to focus your practice on marriage counseling?
I have been counseling individuals for 17 years but it’s been in the last five years that Ben and I have worked together. It’s been a good partnership especially when it comes to working with husbands. We found that men respond to other men. We talk about how men can be good husbands. So many people in our community, especially men, come from single parent homes where the mother is the dominate figure. They’ve had no role models. So we bring men to the table with other men to help strengthen families and show them what it is to lead their families.
You see many different types of challenges in your practice. What do you think are the main issues that couples struggle with today?
If you boil it down, it comes down to a handful of things: out of proportion expectations, lack of forgiveness and the unwillingness to work hard. Couples have to be able to forgive both big and small things. People believe in fairy tales rather than the real work of marriage. We find that in popular culture there aren’t many realistic images of marriage. A lot of problems come from couples having expectations of one another but they haven’t articulated those expectations to each other. Couples need to share their expectations. They also have to understand why they have those expectations and then be able to voice them in a respectful way. You have to talk about even the smallest of details.
You and your husband have a book coming out later this spring, tell me about it.
Yes, we are working on a book called “I Love Being Married: A Guide to Divorce-Proof Your Marriage.” In the book we talk about ways to handle common challenges that come with marriage: conflict management, the best way to love your spouse, and how to make sure you are getting your needs fulfilled. It’s really key in all relationships to look at how a person needs to be loved. Ultimately, we are trying to get couples to stay together – to make the commitment.The book will have a work book and tools for couples to use together or in a small group setting. We are especially hoping to engage men in this process.
For busy couples who are balancing work and family, what do think are the keys to keeping a marriage strong? Communication, spending time together, and keeping your friendship – that is so key. Couples focus so much on the job and children that sometimes they forget what it was that drew them together. Have you talked to your spouse lately about what’s bothering him or her at work? What is something new that you may not know? Educate yourself about your spouse. If your spouse is your best friend, it will be hard for someone or something else to get in between you.
You are a working mother with five children, how do you balance a busy counseling practice with motherhood? You know that big cup of coffee on your masthead? That’s how I do it! Coffee! Honestly, I have a really helpful, supportive husband. We work together as a team. We have a lot of support from friends and family. I have to make sure I take care of myself. Prayer, seeking quiet time and good friends and family all help. You can’t do it alone. It’s really important to have a support system. Prepare, plan and communicate in advance and then have a good support system.
To learn more about Alisha and Ben Walker’s counseling practice, their upcoming book and get a wealth of tools to help your marriage, visit them at www.themarriagecoaches.net