Made in heaven, fixed on earth: how marriage coach Leena Paranjpe is helping couples navigate troubled waters
Does your marriage need a coach to bring the love back into it? How is a marriage coach different from a counsellor? Leena Paranjpe, who claims to be India’s first marriage coach, tells us all about her unique career choice.
Ever heard of a marriage coach? I didn’t too until I came across Leena Paranjpe’s profile. I was both amused and intrigued by this particular career choice.
So what does a marriage coach do that is different from that of a marriage counsellor?
Leena puts all my doubts to rest, and clarifies, “While counsellors listen, guide conversations, and let couples make their own decisions, a marriage coach is like a fitness or business coach and works with a concrete plan focused on outcomes.” The desire to be a marriage coach stemmed from the problems that Leena faced in her own marriage. She used her own experience in resolving issues for a favourable outcome to set this unique career path into motion.
In a freewheeling chat with HerStory, Leena, who claims to be the only marriage coach in India, talks about what her job entails, and how rocky marriages can survive under her coaching.
A unique career
Leena started her practice as a marriage coach in 2016 and has provided coaching to more than 200 couples till date. A-one woman army, she says, “My own tumultuous journey led me to choose this career.”
She also spent considerable time researching the subject before she took it up as a career and realised that the divorce rate was climbing steadily in India.
“I had done in-depth research on marriage counsellors and was shocked to know that despite seeking help from marriage counsellors the divorce rate in our country was alarming and had grown from four percent to 14.”
Leena also completed an International Coach Federation (ICF) approved 'Grow More Coaching' module, which professionals use in business, in life, and Leena applied it to her marriage. A post-graduate in Literature from Mumbai University, Leena has conducted 50-plus seminars on marriage coaching.
“I do not use a standard methodology or programme because I believe each marriage and couple is special. Coaching itself, however, typically involves four components, which are altered based on the couple’s unique needs and objectives. This starts with defining the goals, identifying barriers, establishing accountability, and celebrating victories,” she says.
Over the years, the couples she has interacted with have only added to her experience. “Working heart-to-heart and face-to-face with struggling couples has contributed to creating a deeper understanding of marital issues and individual personalities,” she reveals.
Challenges of modern-day marriages
Leena says modern day marriages face a number of situational changes. From lack of understanding and acceptance to impatience, financial independence, the impact of instant gratification, and egoistic behaviour there are a number of challenges that modern marriages face today.
“People have lost trust in the ethos of marriage, that is usually regarded earlier as a sacred institution. Expectations have changed. This has resulted in some marriages failing and others struggling to survive. Today’s couples not only expect the need for closeness and connection, but also expect their needs for personal growth and development are met. Couples are investing less time and effort in the maintenance of their relationships.”
Pulling it together
“As a marriage coach, my foremost thought is to guide couples through the process of falling in love, growing in love and rekindling love that has been lost. Once the couple approaches me for consultation, I personally try to understand the root cause of their marital issue,” Leena explains.
Based on the severity of the problem, the number of sessions are decided and a result-oriented action plan is chalked out to ensure accountability from both sides.
“The marriage coaching is streamlined and focused compared to traditional marriage counselling,” she adds. Leeba holds the couples accountable and she says that makes all the difference.
When both partners are not ready to solve problems together, Leena works with them individually to find solutions. Leena says, “even if one partner works on change, seeing the impact the other may respond and become open to the process of coaching.”
The life of a marriage coach
While she strictly adheres to moral and ethical principles that her profession stipulates, Leena believes it is important to give clients honest advice.
“I have always tried to work as a catalyst to mend the gap between the couples. Once the relationship is rebuilt, the couple becomes strong enough to take charge of their marriage.”
Leena’s work is publicised mostly through word-of-mouth references. Right now, that also continues to be her primary challenge. She is gearing to help more couples bring the “zing” back into their marriages.
She has some pertinent advice for couples facing challenges. “Any marital issue can be resolved with some amount of patience, trust, and discipline. A relationship can survive a fair amount of fights and progressive arguments but cannot survive the loss of safety, security and communication.”