What’s your Relationship Story?

Tara Your Relationship

If you’ve been following along on our Hump Day Wednesdays with Tara Caffelle, Where Relationships Get Real, I’m sure you’ve noticed that I get the conversation started with questions that I’m personally seeking answers to. We’ve looked at:  Why is intimacy so important? , What’s the deal with Nookie November? , and What is a Super Couple?   So today, it seems only fitting on Love Week… ahem, on the hump of Valentines Day that we get up close and personal with the relationship lady herself. Here’s my question for Tara:

Okay Tara… this is the tell all question. Most of us fall into a passion profession because we’ve been lead there by our own experiences. Come on now… bare all. What’s your ‘relationship’ or ‘intimacy’ story???

Tara:  Oh yes. My own experience led me deep into this work—you’ve got me there. I have always, always been interested in relationships. When I was growing up, I’d watch the adults around me and listen quietly as my Mum discussed life events with my aunts and her friends. I probably learned more than I should have, but even then I can remember being able to figure people out. In my twenties, I remember annoying a date when I fell asleep during the epic battle scenes from Lord of the Rings. What can I say? The battles didn’t involve conversation. There wasn’t anything relationshippy for me to entertain myself with. Jeeez.

There’s been one relationship in my life that, even though it has shifted and actually ended, has informed almost every piece of my work and how I hold my clients.

I met my (former) husband when I was 21 at what was the very beginning of what we now know as online dating. (Writing that makes me feel like such a dinosaur! Next I’ll tell you how I had to walk uphill both ways to school in the winter with bearskin shoes!).  In any case, we met and fell in love and lived quite happily together for about 14 years.

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In 2010 we split up very amicably, even sharing custody of our basset hound. As it happened, at the tail end of our relationship, after YEARS of floundering in various careers and never feeling completely fulfilled, I had (finally) found what I felt I was called to do… That was coaching.

As we navigated separating after such a long time together, we carefully designed how we wanted to be.

In coaching, we say that we “design our alliance,” which means the coach and client decide how it’s going to be when they’re together. We talk about what feels respectful, and what will be the most effective, and we form a team that will help the client reach their outcomes. When my husband and I decided to part ways, I brought a lot of coaching-esque stuff into our conversations: I expressed that I wanted to land in a friendship at some point, and that I didn’t blame him for what was happening. We continually asked for what we needed (space, patience, silence, etc) and were able to transition through a whole lot of grieving into a space where we held on to our friendship.

As we navigated separating after such a long time together, we carefully designed how we wanted to be.

Our friendship, after all, had always been a great part of our life together.

That process showed me, first-hand, how relationships can be, even as they end and especially as they end. Until then, I’d been working primarily as a life coach with individuals (and I still do), but I began to work more specifically with relationships, recognizing that we have them with everyone in our lives (from the barista who gets us our coffee in the morning to the person we land in bed with at the end of the day). I realized they could all be designed and customized to fit the people in them.

This led me to working as a doula, supporting parents who were about to welcome new babies into the world. As I met with those couples, I noticed I was always asking the same questions:

What are you doing for your relationship before this little person arrives?

Have you considered that you will never again be “just a couple” and will forevermore be a “family”?

These conversations were incredibly satisfying; I loved knowing I was having an impact on how the world would greet and care for those sweet little muffins.

From there, I became an educator for The Gottman Institute; I guide couples through both The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work and the Bringing Baby Home programs, and I fold this work into all that I know about sex, communication, relationships, leadership and designing a union that works and lasts.

But along the way I realized I also had some work to do on myself. It would take courage, openness and tremendous strength.

While my ex-husband and I made an excellent Team together (IKEA assembly skills: MASTER) and were the very best of friends, there was a layer of intimacy that was missing between us that I see more clearly now that I am out of it. I know now that there was a fundamental “holding back” between us.

In 2008, before we separated, we went through a bit of a relationship crisis and realized the outcome was uncertain. We actually had a successful open relationship for the last few years of our marriage, and within that there was experimentation, both together and apart. I was introduced to the world of consensual non-monogamy, which has given me an open-minded acceptance that I bring to my work (many of my clients come from non-monogamous relationships and seek support in making them work).

Since our separation in 2010 (and at the time of writing this in February of 2016) I have essentially been mostly single and in a constant journey of growth and exploration . I have learned the difference between physical intimacy (I used to readily hand over my body and think I was allowing someone to get close to me) and emotional intimacy—the In-to-me-see intimacy.

But along the way I realized I also had some work to do on myself. It would take courage, openness and tremendous strength.

The former is no longer satisfying to me, and although the latter challenges me every day to bare my inner layers, I challenge myself to do it because I know it is ultimately a more satisfying way to live.

I no longer tolerate small talk about the weather; I seek Big Conversations that leave my soul touched and my mind fuller.

In late 2014, my beloved ex-husband began to struggle with his mental health quite seriously. In May of 2015, he took his own life.

As someone who knew him for half of my life and loved him as a partner and a friend, it was both an honour and tremendously stressful to support him during the last six months of his life. I speak openly about it so that the stigma around mental health can be brought into the open.

There is not a single moment that he is not with me as I do my work in the world. His life and his death have helped me to zero-in on what is really important: our relationships, our connections, the way our children see us communicating and relating to each other, and the safe place to land that we all deserve.

So yes, Tina, to answer your question: my work comes from the very core of who I am and what I believe to be true in this world. I am humbled by the growth and transformation I get to see in each and every client session.

Tara Cafelle Where

 

Get real like sexy real,  Tara

 

 


 

Tara Caffelle is a Relationship and Communication coach.  She is passionate about creating connected, almost-uncomfortable-to-watch relationships that are based in Sexy Communication and Big Lives worth rolling around in.

Tara is based in the Lower Mainland of Vancouver and offers custom-designed coaching programs. To claim your free 90+ minutes and see what might be possible for your own super coupledom (or persondom), find a time here.

Have a question for Tara?  Have an idea for a Hump Day conversation?   How about just some thoughts about this thing called life? Let us know here.  We’ll answer back.  We promise.  

 

1 Comment

  1. […] of his integrity and patience. We eventually worked past it and went on to get married and have a mostly-happy life together, but it took a really long time for us to recover. Luckily, we both looked at the whole thing as a […]

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