Our newest Muse, Sarah Oswald, is not only an officiant she’s a compassionate couples coach. Through her Premarital Coaching, she supports couples in building a solid foundation for the life that they’re beginning to create on their wedding day.
Be sure to read Part I of our interview to learn more about Sarah’s background and officiating.
Vow Muse: How would you describe your coaching approach?
SO: I draw on my training in Relational Life Therapy, a transformative therapeutic coaching model that focuses on relational empowerment, full respect living, and fierce intimacy. Additionally, being a certified MatrixWorks teacher (which is a model of leadership focused on group-dynamics), I approach couples from a living systems perspective. It’s very hard to have a great marriage without each individual building both a great relationship with themselves and a great connection with their own community.
VM: How do you work with couples about to get married?
SO: We work together in two-hour sessions. While one hour might be enough for one person, there are two people here. So for a couple, two hours is about right and it also allows us to go deeper, faster. It helps us see lasting change — which is what most people are looking for.
Ideally, I suggest that couples commit to doing at least three sessions. It really gives you the space and time to unfold. It changes the dynamic when you know you’re committed to showing up for the process.
VM: What kind of topics do you usually cover?
SO: Everything is fair game.
Values, finances, and handling stress. Children, parenting, building traditions, family dynamics, and community. Joint decision making, communication techniques, and how to engage in constructive conflict. Affection, intimacy, fidelity, sex, and maintaining passion over the years.
You name it, we can talk about it.
VM: What kind of outcomes can couples expect when working with you?
SO: It’s a tricky question to answer since every couple is different. In general, I’d say that after working with me couples are more focused on the positive. And they’ve reframed what conflict means in their relationship — they know that when difficulty arises it’s a good sign. It’s a sign that they care and that they are safe to lean into a challenge and to grow together.
I find the couples I work with are more inclined to show up with presence for each other — to truly see one another, and experience being seen.
VM: Would you recommend coaching to every couple before getting married?
SO: There is no better time to build a solid foundation for the life you’re creating together. So, yes, of course, I recommend it! If your officiant provides it and you don’t use it, it’s an opportunity missed.
I’ve worked with couples who really wish that they had searched it out before they got married. I have heard people who’ve gone through mandated counseling with religious officiants say how useful it was to them.
People spend so much money on the wedding itself, but really the most important part is that the marriage be successful. The wedding is just the beginning of moving deeper into intimacy with your partner. That’s the juicy part. Why pass over it?
VM: Do you coach couples who aren't getting married? Or who are already married?
SO: Yes and yes!
VM: What’s your favorite part about working with couples through premarital coaching?
SO: I love the future-focus aspect of it. We’re creating new patterns and traditions that they can build on throughout their lives together. We’re planting a seed that grows and evolves long after my work with them is over.
VM: Do you have any practices in your own relationship that help keep your marriage strong?
SO: The biggest practice I have is trusting.
When I get frustrated with my husband, my practice is to trust in our bond and to remember that he is on my team. That supporting him is essentially supporting myself. It’s got to work for both of us. I’ve learned how to stop talking (tough for me!), to take some space to see the bigger picture and not get caught up in the nit-picky details. That helps me see the best in him.
I also suggest keeping in mind learning and growing doesn’t end when we reach some imaginary point of perfection. There is always more to discover in the other and deeper levels to travel. So stay curious!
Learn more about working with Sarah and Vow Muse!