”There have been so many tears and such grief. I so wish he wanted to fight for this, for me, for us, for our family!”

This was the text I received last night from an amazing young woman whose husband seems to be giving up on the marriage.

As I read the words, I thought of Kelly Clarkson’s song, Walk Away. Some of the lyrics say:

I want a man by my side,

Not a boy who runs and hides.

Are you gonna fight for me?

Die for me?

Live and breathe for me?

Do you care for me?

‘Cause if you don’t, then just leave.

I’m not for anyone leaving, but we all long to know that someone will fight for us!

We all, both men and women, want someone who will fight for us — whether it be a friend, a relationship, a coworker, or a family member. 

Early in coach training, I tell my students that most people, couples, and families that come to get Coaching want to know they are worth fighting for. Our job is to teach them that they are worth fighting for and help them gain the confidence and determination to fight for themselves, for their relationships, for their business.

So what does “fight for” mean anyway?

It means to be committed, dedicated, and devoted to a person or a project. To work hand-in-hand with the other person to see the desired outcome (that is good for their well-being and their future). 

I hear the same plea from couples in my office regularly. One longing for the other to fight for them, to fight for the relationship.

A few months ago, I Coached a couple where the wife is a nurse. She is in medical school to become a Nurse Practitioner. The husband does not have a “J-O-B.” He works on projects and has great flexibility.

Many weekends, with the combination of her nursing job and her residency hours, she works two or three 24-hour shifts.  Because of the setting where she works, she is unable to have her phone with her most of the time. The shifts are often brutal.

She has shared many times with her husband how much it would mean to her to find a text from him when she has a moment for a break. A simple text cheering her on, sending her love, telling her how proud he is of her.

Over the last weekend before our session, she had again had very little communication from him.

In tears, in the session, she said, “I am working so hard for us! For our future! So we can buy a home, and have nice things! And you didn’t even have to work over the weekend. And yet you couldn’t find time between your Netflix binging to just send me a few texts? Or why not set your alarm for every two hours and think of me and send me a quick text? “

He lashed back with, “I’m not gonna put up with that kind of demand!”

I could have predicted her next words. They came out through sobs: “I’m just so alone! I just wish you could fight for me and what I’m trying to do!“

I intervened before he could respond. I wanted to help them turn this tense moment into an opportunity to fight together, not fight with each other. 

Had I just gone with the training I had received through the years, I might have just helped them negotiate and compromise. That’s standard therapy training. But I would’ve missed the most important opportunity before me.

I learned a lot about fighting for others at a wedding I attended over 25 years ago. It was a sweet ceremony. Pretty typical of most weddings, with the exchange of vows and rings.

I had recently completed my doctoral studies in marriage and family therapy. But what occurred next in this little wedding was perhaps the most valuable lesson I received in my entire graduate studies.

After the traditional vows, the minister had us all stand and make our vows to the couple. I can’t remember the exact words, but they were similar to this:

“I vow to support your marriage, no matter what. I promise a watchful eye and a prayerful heart toward you both. If I see things diminishing in any way, I will step in and help in any way I can. I will believe in you as a couple. I will pray for you, and when troubles come, I will not turn my head. I will fight for you, and fight for your marriage. Until death separates you.”

I stated that vow with great commitment on that day. But not only to that couple. At the same time, I committed to it with every couple that I would ever work with. Through the years, I have rolled up my sleeves and fought for marriage after marriage — for relationship after relationship.

This couple was no different. In my heart, that day a month or so ago, I rolled up my sleeves. I intervened to fight for their marriage.

I am not sharing this with you just so that you will have a new story to consider. I’m sharing this with you because I want to teach you how to fight for yourself — for your partner, for your marriage, for your family, for your business. And, for the resolution of issues in your life. (For everything from recovery from mistakes, recovery from addictions, to recovery from lack of confidence.)

These steps for “fighting for” are not rocket science. But each step is crucial to get to the desired outcome:

1. Determine what you and the other person, or the relationship, or the project, needs and/or wants.

2. Remove all judgment from the need and/or desire. 

3. Identify the positive outcomes that could come by facilitating the need and/or want. 

4. Make it a priority, roll up your sleeves and develop a plan. 

5. Stay committed to the course until the desired outcome becomes a reality. 

6. Be grateful.

7. Teach others to fight, even if only through modeling it. 

Again, none of these steps are rocket science. But I’ve noted that we tend to excuse ourselves from fighting with comments such as these:

  • I’m just not good at that kind of stuff.
  • I tried it, and it didn’t work out, so it isn’t worth the effort.
  • It just wasn’t meant to be.

Even if you have been guilty of saying those kinds of things, it’s a brand new day! I want to turn you into a fighter!  Right here, right now! So get your gloves on!

I am going to use the seven steps above to show you how I intervened with the couple I mentioned. I want to give you a real-life example.

1. Determine what you, the person, the relationship, or the project needs and/or wants.

First, I intervened in what was becoming the kind “fight” that none of us needs.

I turned to the wife and asked, “I know that you have clearly asked for a lot of supportive check-ins over the weekends. But what is it that those check-ins would do for you?“

Through streaming tears and with a broken little girl’s voice, she responded: “I wouldn’t feel so alone. I would believe he cared about what I was doing, and was appreciative of the sacrifices I am making. And I would believe that I was more important than whatever series or sports he was binging out on!“

I had him reflect, validate, and empathize — because now we knew what we were fighting for.

2. Remove all judgment from the need and/or desire. 

With humor (because a little bit of humor always helps when we’re fighting for something) I said to him, “I’m sure you would never do this, but I’m sure ‘some other guys’ would have a judgment about this request. Others might question, with a judgmental tone, whether simple texts would bring about her desired outcome anway. And why they were so important.”

Then I added, “How do you think some of those ‘other guys‘ might have judged?”

With no hesitation, he said, “They might have thought that your wife just didn’t want them to enjoy themselves while she was working. And he would not understand why both of them needs to be miserable, her working and him having to write a bunch of silly texts!”

Then with tongue in cheek, I asked him, “So what would you say to that selfish husband?”

With a grin, he said, “Get over yourself, dude, and get over your lazy *ss ways. Write the girl some texts! She’s creating a great future for you! Don’t let your lack of self-worth keep you from cheering her on to the prize! Because you’re gonna enjoy that prize!”

He got it! And so will you!

3. Identify the positive outcomes that could come from facilitating the need or desire. 

I asked both of them what positive outcomes would result from his loving and supportive texts — from her feeling appreciated and supported, and not so alone.

As you can imagine, the list was long!

  • More intimacy.
  • Less arguing.
  • Feeling like we are on the same team.
  • The list went on and on.

4. Make it a priority, roll up your sleeves; develop a plan. 

Rolling up your sleeves is another phrase for taking massive immediate action. Get started! Get started now! Not tomorrow, not next week. Right now. So I helped him get started while we were there together.

But you have to develop a plan in order to get started. This is the place where many of us may need a Coach. Coaches are often a great help in developing your plan. Because sometimes we cannot see the forest for the trees! We are just too close to the situation to see creative strategies and resolutions.

I first asked the wife to think as if she was out of the room, but I wanted her to hear the conversation.

Then I asked him what he did to make her load a little lighter on the weekends while she was working brutal shifts.  

He looked at me like I was speaking Greek!

So I helped him out. I asked what chores that he might do over the weekends that might make her feel appreciated and welcomed back home after a long hard weekend.

He looked at me and said, “Are you talking about ‘stuff’ like doing the laundry, loading the dishwasher, making up the bed?”

Without acknowledging the question, I commented as I wrote them down, “That’s a good start! Let’s add about four or five more things to that list.“

The wife, who was supposed to be a “fly on the wall,” couldn’t help herself — she chuckled! I’m sure she was enjoying it!

We added things to the list, like having breakfast ready for her when she came home on Monday mornings, and a few other things. Not to mention setting his phone alarm every three hours to send her a text!

I explained that when the alarm went off, it means not just a “thinking of you” text. But every second or third time — a text about what their relationship means to him — about why he loves her so much. Meaningful texts!

This put a fire in his belly and a fire on his backside! It gave him a plan that would certainly shout loudly to his wife, “I am willing to fight for you and for us!”

He committed to the plan as a look of pure relief replaced her tears.

5. Stay committed to the course until the desired outcome becomes a reality. 

He was totally on board until I told him that this is not just for the next weekend. It’s for every weekend until she has completed her NP program and has a job working normal hours!

At first, he choked a little! But he knew I was not going to accept anything less than his very best. He nodded in agreement.

 You’ve got to stay with it! These things don’t come together overnight! That’s where the “fight” comes in.

Remember — you are a “fighter!”

6. Be grateful. 

I turned to his wife and said, “You won’t be ‘like other wives’ who might respond to all of this with punishment, like: ‘It’s about time!’ I know you won’t do that!”

“I want to teach you to be grateful. Be grateful in words, be grateful in actions. Express it often. Let him know you are appreciative by the loving tone in your voice.”

“Let him know by bragging on him to others, in front of him! Let him know by doing things that make him feel loved. Do all of that often!”

When someone is fighting with you or for you, do the same! Be grateful! It’s a practice that is absolutely life-changing!

7. Teach others to fight, even if only through modeling it. 

I have seen this couple several times since I intervened.

He has delivered texts, Monday morning breakfast, and done chores he never even considered before!

She has been very grateful; with her words, actions, and little surprises she has provided for him.

I congratulated both of them for being official “fighters!” But I told them that this was only the beginning. Now they need to teach it to others and model it. 

He proudly shared how he had taken his brother-in-law to lunch and had “schooled him“ on how he needed to be fighting for his troubled marriage!

What a beautiful thing! Two fighters were born!

You are worth fighting for! Your marriage is worth fighting for! Your dreams are worth fighting for! And you, too, can help others by fighting alongside them.

I love this Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban song called, “The Fighter.” (Click on this link to watch it on YouTube)

I love this lyric. They are singing back-and-forth to one another:

What if I fall?
I won’t let you fall
What if I cry?
I’ll never make you cry
And if I get scared?
I’ll hold you tighter
When they’re trying to get to you, baby, I’ll be the fighter!

You, my friend, are a fighter!

What do you need to be fighting for?

Go for it! You can do it! You’ve got this!

And who needs you to fight for them?

Step in today and make a difference!

You are a fighter!