How to privately, confidentially meet with an emotionally fragile wife without compromising her safety and my reputation is a tough issue that I, like all male ministers, counselors, and mediators must face. Recently, I read a good article on this topic by motivational (and funny) speaker, Mark Gungor on his blog. Among the comments, was this from a lady reader:
From a woman’s perspective and my own personal experience it is my opinion that women go to men instead of women because men have the ability to re-frame a woman’s problem in boxes and take the emotion of the problem. If a woman is having emotional problems she does not want to go to an emotional being to fix the problem. The times that I used to go to men for situations I was struggling with, the guy would be able to articulate my problem without the emotion of it and put it in his boxes which helped me to see it differently and take care of it. Sometimes going to women just added to the emotion in the my head. HOWEVER, this does not give women an excuse to put men in a situation where they are tempted. I think what I have experienced is that once a man sorts your problem and put it in boxes the women wants him to do it again and again. I agree highly that women should mentor other women and getting a mans opinion occasionally is fine.
Ladies am I right????
I think you’re right that women appreciate having a man compartmentalize their emotional dilemmas for them. As a Christian family mediator, I am often approached by wives or ex-wives wanting me to help them get a message across to their mate or ex so they can begin solving the problems. I rarely meet with these women without their spouse or ex (that’s the whole purpose of mediation, to get THEM communicating), but in initial sessions we do sometimes meet alone.
On those occasions I always alert two of the secretaries at the church to help me by “patrolling” past the half-window door to my meeting room several times where the client can see them. This gives me two safeties: the secretaries can bear witness that nothing untoward happened; and the client feels safer knowing other women are nearby.
It’s a dangerous (and litigious) world out there, so we have to be careful to protect ourselves and our reputations – but we also have a responsibility to serve hurting families. Balance and being “wise as a serpent but harmless as doves” are key to doing it right.
If you’ve thought about seeking professional advice, guidance, or mediation, let me make two suggestions: first, make sure you know who you’re talking to. Just picking a name out of a phone book or a web listing can be dangerous. It’s a jungle out there, know whose advice you’re getting. Ask a friend or pastor, research the person, go to someone you know.
Most all of my clients come from readers of my blog, articles, newsletter, or web site. They know a lot about me before they ever contact me.
Second, insist on a preliminary meeting to feel each other out. Any reputable coach or counselor should be willing to talk to you before setting a contract.
I always meet with potential clients to see if we “fit.” Sometimes my mediation or coaching services aren’t what they need. If not, I’ll suggest someone else. Sometimes we just don’t click – whether because of their personalities or because of other conflicts. Find out first.
For your own safety, and for mine, it is important to … well, to “step carefully” when you seek out help in something as vital and personal as your own or your family’s relationships. Investigate and be safe!
STEPcoach Bob Collins
P.S. if you’re interested in relationship help from me – either formal mediation, or personal guidance coaching – contact me directly and we’ll proceed s l o w l y to figure out exactly what you need to get your life happy again.