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  • Kim Meninger

Marriage, Inc.

Updated: May 12, 2023

Marriage, Inc. - Dr. Robin Buckley

Welcome to another episode of The Impostor Syndrome Files! Join Kim Meninger and Dr. Robin Buckley, who shares parallels between marriage and business. Her style of relationship coaching uniquely reflects her accomplishments and experiences. Robin has a Ph.D. in psychology and a background in both executive and couples coaching. She likens a relationship to a business, including themes such as handling new things, task assignment to whomever is a better fit, even battling gender stereotypes and having confidence in your partner to complete tasks in their own way. But one of the biggest focal points is being able to keep in mind the mission statement of the relationship. A lot to unpack in this episode so be sure to stay tuned!

Identifying the framework:

Robin shares that most couples she’s worked with have neglected to identify roles within their relationship dynamics. With Robin’s background in two very different types of coaching, she developed a unique perspective. Robin shares that a lot of businesses have vision-mission statements that emphasize what the company stands for, including their core values and what they aim to do. She shares how she noticed that couples don’t engage in this practice, though it is actually very helpful to keeping a couple grounded and not losing sight of their relationship goals. Robin believes that all couples would benefit from a personal mission statement for their marriage.

About Dr. Robin Buckley:

Dr. Robin Buckley helps high-achieving clients thrive in their careers and relationships as both an Executive Coach and Couples Coach. She is an author, public speaker, and cognitive-behavioral coach who works with executives and high-performance couples. Her proprietary coaching model uses a business framework and cognitive-behavioral strategies to support clients in creating and executing concrete, strategic plans for developing their careers and relationships. The owner of Insights Group Psychological & Coaching Services, Dr. Buckley has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and served as a doctoral professor and dissertation chair for students in business, leadership, education, and healthcare. She has published two books, including Voices From the Village: Advice for girls on the verge of adulthood. Dr. Buckley is a columnist for and has been featured as an expert on multiple media platforms, including Thrive Global, Authority Magazine, Nike, various podcasts and news radio, and will be a TEDx speaker in May 2022.


Outline of the Episode:

[01:57] About Dr. Robin Buckley [06:19] Common relationship issues and being proactive at seeking help [10:19] Identifying roles in a relationship [16:23] Calling “pineapple” on situations to take on roles [20:20] The commitment to letting go especially for women [26:44] Following the standard operating procedure for new things [32:37] Advice for couples that would like to take on a new approach [36:47] How the children comes into consideration

And many more!


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Kim Meninger Hello. Welcome Robin, I am really excited to have this conversation with you today. I know anyone listening won’t be able to see but I love seeing your dog sleeping so peacefully.

Dr. Robin Buckley Yes, your listeners are missing out Kim.

Kim Meninger Before we jump into our conversation today, I’d like to invite you to introduce yourself. Tell us a little bit about you.

Dr. Robin Buckley Yeah, so my name is Dr. Robin Buckley. And I started out in traditional mental health because my PhD is in clinical psychology. But over the years, I’ve since stepped back and use the training that I also have as a coach to develop a practice around executive coaching and more, even more fun, the recent couples coaching, recent meaning in the past five to eight years. So I do both of those roles, as well as owning a psychological and coaching practice in New Hampshire. And then also a fun piece is that I’m also a public speaker. So I do keynote speaking, and probably the most exciting thing that’s happening in the near future is I got accepted to do a TED talk in May. So I’m really excited about that.

Kim Meninger That’s wonderful. We were talking before you heard that news. So that’s great. I’m really happy for you. Thank you. Wonderful. So you mentioned couples coaching. And I’m really interested in this conversation because when you and I spoke last time, we were talking about your unique approach to relationship coaching. And I think that this is an area that can definitely be a trigger for self-doubt. We never see what happens in other people’s relationships, although we think we do. So you know, we see social media, or we might see our, our friends and assume that they have these really great relationships, and then we think, “I must be doing something wrong.” I’m not sure what, you know, how my relationship compares to other people’s relationships, all kinds of things can get in our head when it comes to this. And not to mention the fact that, you know, not, not all of us have communication skills, or have the fundamentals of how to manage complex relationships. So I’d love to start by asking you about your particular approach to…

Dr. Robin Buckley There’s a lot, you know, it’s funny that you’re talking about the insecurity that comes with relationships, or the evaluation of our own relationships to others. And I think that is part of the challenge. When people go into couples therapy, they’re afraid, they’re afraid of what’s gonna be revealed, they’re afraid of acknowledging the challenges in the relationship. So when I talk to couples, and they say, well, you know, we’re in a rut, or we’re just not in a place that we used to be. That’s where I love educating people on the difference between therapy and coaching. Because therapy really, for couples, is about when you’re in crisis, when you’re really having some kind of major challenge that almost brings you to a point of deciding between staying in the marriage or ending the marriage. And not, that, that’s what therapy should be used for. But that is certainly the construct of how people understand couples therapy. And after watching that, for years, that’s where I wanted to develop an idea that was beyond that, that was more of a proactive, preventative approach for, for enhancing a relationship. And so I started developing this idea around couples coaching. And it came out of the executive coaching that I did, particularly with women, that these female executives and business owners were just powerhouses in their professional life, and yet felt so insecure, or so unable to attain the same level of success from their professional life in their personal relationship. And so as I worked with them, I realized that it was great that I could help them. But that was a one-sided approach to making the relationship better to enhance the relationship. And that’s where the idea of how to create a platform of couples coaching. So you could have both members of the relationship in and start developing this idea of, if you have these skills in your professional life, if you know what it’s like, or what it takes to build a business and have success in an organization, why couldn’t you then apply it to organization or business of your relationship of your marriage? So that’s the basic premise of this proprietary model that I came up with that is a lot of fun to use with couples.

Kim Meninger I bet and I love that. I love applying similar principles that you would do to your own relationship. What, what would you say are some of the common themes or challenges that bring people to you, especially like you said, you know, therapy tends to be we’re in crisis? Are you finding that people are recognizing that there’s an opportunity for coaching more proactively? Or do you find that most people are in a pretty, I don’t know what you would call it, but like a negative situation that they’re looking for support on?

Dr. Robin Buckley Unfortunately, I think that’s, that’s what the societal model around therapy is that it is so rare that people, you know, call my practice and say, you know, we’d really like to get in as a couple or as an individual, because, you know, things just don’t feel right, or we kind of see that we’re going down a wrong path. And we’d like to prevent that. Usually, it’s, things are just hitting the fan. And now we are in full-blown intervention model. So when couples come in, it’s this idea of, okay. And there’s basically a couple kinds of, of couple, types of couples that I work with. One, certainly I do work with couples who are new to a commitment, and they don’t want to replicate the mistakes either from their past or the past of people around them that they’ve seen parents or friends. And then I also work with couples who are just in a rut, who are like, you know, what, we used to be better, we used to be happier, and we don’t, we want to stay together. So we want to get to that place where we can evolve and grow our relationship together, instead of just saying, this is a we’re either going to live in an unsatisfying relationship, or it’s going to end. So you had asked, you know, what are some of the biggest issues that come through my door when couples want to do coaching work with me, and one of the biggest is very simple. They’ve just lost that connection to what really matters to them, they distance themselves from the relationship. And so with those couples, and most couples, it makes sense to start them with a basic foundational part of building a business, which is a mission statement. We know why we have mission statements in business. We know why, in every organization, you can see mission statements plastered on every office. But so few couples create a couple’s mission statement. And it does the same thing that a mission statement does in business. It keeps a couple grounded, it keeps them focused in the same direction. It unifies what their core values are. So that when things are challenging, they can go back to their mission, they can use their mission statement to evaluate when they make choices. And not long ago, I have a couple that I’m working with and they are engaged. So they’re there. They’re not in, in, they don’t even live together yet. But they are going to make a commitment in the near future. And they went on a family, they went on a trip to visit the future husband’s side of the family. And there was just a contentious situation going on. And the female partner set twist telling me she went into the bathroom, she could feel like her tension building and her stress building. And she wanted to retreat to her go-to, which was to withdraw and distance herself, which did not, was definitely a trigger for her soon-to-be husband. So she said, I took out my phone and I was in the bathroom, I did some breathing. And then I took out my phone and I pulled up our mission statement. And I read it through a couple times. And I realized if I went with what was my typical pattern of behavior, that would not support our mission. And so I thought about what I could do to support our mission that was still genuine to me. And I went up there. And I did that, just like, I didn’t talk. But I also didn’t physically leave the situation because I knew that would support our mission instead of withdrawing. That’s what a mission statement does so powerfully for couples, but we don’t usually have them as couples. So that is definitely one thing that I see that people just lose that connection to who they are as a couple. And what is really kind of that foundation to their relationship. And then probably the other biggest one I see is just a lack of delineation of roles, that couples do not clearly identify who they are, what their responsibilities and roles are in the relationship. And again, I use a business framework because it’s objective because it allows people to think in strategic ways rather than react in emotional ways. So when it comes to roles, I’ll ask, who’s the CEO, CFO of your relationship, to who oversees all the finances, comes up with options and solutions, and then presents it to their partner? Because it doesn’t mean the CFO gets to make all the decisions because they wouldn’t do that in business. He would go back to the board, they would go back to the other members to say, Okay, here’s, here’s where we’re at. And here’s some direction, here’s what I think is the best avenue. What’s your input? You know, I asked who’s the COO who oversees kind of the organization of the whole business, meaning the family potentially, what’s the culture? What’s the direction that they want to create, again, not to be autonomous, but just to have that oversight. So we go through everything from those high-level categories of business roles, all the way down to who’s the fleet manager who makes sure that the cars are maintained and everything is working fine, you know, in a functional way, who’s the nutritionist in the family. So every role that you can think of in business, we delineate, and it’s a really interesting exercise, because sometimes couples realize, one person is doing a majority of the work. Or they’re each trying to do 50% of every roll, which ends up being very convoluted and complicated sometimes. So those are two examples of what I see regularly from couples, and how I apply this business mentality to their relationship.

Kim Meninger Wow, I want to stick with the role delineation for a moment, because that is such a business problem, and that you see that all the time in business kinds of conflicts, that it isn’t clear, who’s doing what, or, you know, what the commitment levels are, all of that. And so I absolutely love the idea of bringing that conversation to a relationship and, and like you’re talking about, it really does expose gaps or potential imbalances. It must create opportunity for some really good conversation to, to ask, okay, if we are trying to tackle this 50/50, and it’s just not working, who wants to be the CFO? Like, right? Does it, who, where does it make the most sense for us to divide? Right, those roles?

Dr. Robin Buckley Yeah, I mean, you know, especially with the couples that I end up working with, you know, I typically am dealing with these high performance, independent, powerful personalities. And so and I think, particularly for the female members of the relationship, whoever, you know, however, the relationship is structured, whether it’s heterosexual, homosexual, whatever it might be, there is this desire to prove that they can get, they understand money, and they can manage money, and they can do this. And sometimes it’s a matter of reminding them, they can, but do they want to? Do they have to? You know, could it be that their partner either really loves playing with money in numbers, or they’re just a little bit better at it? And what could I offer them to then say, you know, what, yeah, that’s all yours, let me know when you need my input, and I’m going to take some of my skills and put it in a place that’s that I’m better at in the relationship. It doesn’t mean they can’t do it, or that it’s, they’re weak at it. It becomes a choice of how they, how they approach how, where they can put their strengths in the relationship and how they can best serve the mission of the relationship.

Kim Meninger And that is such familiar ground from a business perspective, too, because I often talk to women about the, the impostor syndrome that comes with feeling like you have to do everything and be everything. [Yeah] The pressure is so high. And to your point, just because you can doesn’t mean you have to, and you don’t have to be able to do it either, and that’s why it is beneficial to be part of a team where people have different skill sets because it might not be worth my time learning how to do the finances when I’m really good at this other part of the enterprise. Right?

Dr. Robin Buckley Absolutely. That’s, that you absolutely nailed that, Kim. That, that is what it comes down to that couples don’t you know, when couples tell me, well, we, you know, we do 50% You know, 50/50 of everything in the household And my usual response is, and how’s that going? Because very few couples say it’s going well, usually what ends up happening is either they’re stepping on each other’s toes, or they’re assuming the other person’s going to take care of it. And then vice versa. So if it doesn’t get accomplished, or someone’s trying to do it, and they’re not doing it as well as maybe the other person could have, because that’s their strength set. And now there’s resentment. I mean, it’s just unbelievable that if he just said, Yeah, you’re better at that. I’m good. I’m gonna go do the stuff I am good at. Because we’ve really articulated where our strengths lie. You know, and I, when I talk with couples, I am not talking about this from this place where I don’t apply it. You know, I was in a divorce situation. I know what it’s like not to have this platform that helps organize the relationship. And so when I got into my current marriage, hopefully, my last marriage. That’s certainly the plan. We had these conversations long before I created this model, because I was like, we need a better plan on how to structure this. I don’t want to go through a divorce again. That wasn’t fun. That is not my intent when I want to commit to someone is to end up not working. And I’m not used to failing at things. So I did not want to, I wanted something that could at least get me the closest level of success. That wasn’t a guarantee. But at least there were some strategy and structure behind it instead of just the love and sexual attraction that for at least most Americans get married for.

Kim Meninger Yes. Yeah. And you’re making me think too, just about diffusing some of the emotion in the conversation. Because I actually have this joke with my husband. I’m not even sure where it started, but years ago, he… I love pineapple, and we always get like a fresh pineapple that he will cut into cubes. And at one point, it went bad or something. And he’s like, you know, you could have cut it yourself. And I was like, but I don’t know how, you’ve been cutting this for so long, like you’re pineapple cutter, who is going to cut the pineapple? Right? It sounds so ridiculous. But that became the way we characterize these different roles in our relationships where it just makes sense. Like, you know how to do it, you’ve been doing it, you’re good at it, I haven’t learned it. So we each now joke, when we come into a new situation where it’s not clear, I’ll say to him, like I call pineapple on that one. That’s all you, right? Or he’ll say the same thing to me. And it actually creates opportunity for us to cut through some of the emotion, some of the conflicts. As soon as one of us says that, it’s like, oh, okay, you’re right. You know, I get it, right. It’s just like the pineapple thing.

Dr. Robin Buckley All right, yep. Oh, my God, I love that so much, I’m gonna have to really wrap my brain around that because that is that’s a funny way of doing it. And but that’s exactly it when, you know, couples come in, I have watched it. And it’s always fun to watch when my couples start using the business terminology and the business frameworks. Because it does, it settles them back, it grounds them, the emotions go down. And they start talking in strategic pragmatic ways. So you know, one member of a couple will say, yeah, you know, but that’s, that’s not your, that you’re the, you know, whatever CTO, and so next time, we’re going to conclude or let me know, and I’ll let you know, that’s what I really want. It’s just as complete, like it defers to the person with the strength. But what I, what I really do see happens, it builds trust, because we know that the other person’s got it, they’ve got it covered, they’ll take care of that. And again, it leaves the person whose role it isn’t to then save all their energy, and all their focus on what they really are good at, or what they really want to do. So there isn’t this exhaustion created, because everybody’s trying to do everything, keep everything, you know, in their minds. So I think it works beyond just deferring the workload, it defers some of that level of complete, you know, the, the micromanagement of everything, which then leaves each member of the couple with energy to go back to the relationship. So when you know, couples say, we’re exhausted by the end of the day, and we have nothing left for each other. Using this approach seems to be a strategy so that they do retain some energy for each other because they’re not both trying to do everything.

Kim Meninger Yeah, oh my gosh, I can see how that would be such an energy saver. And like you’re saying too because what you’re making me think about is that the achievement model mindset too, right? And I think that there’s, and I’m not trying to stereotype, stereotype here. But there are enough examples of this, that I think many can relate to this idea of, like, let’s say the mom [yeah] wanting more help, but wanting to control how that help is done, and what it looks like and, and to your point, that’s incredibly exhausting. If not only am I not letting go of it and allowing my partner to do that work, I’m just going to stand there and hover over them and tell them how it should be and redo it for them, maybe that’s demoralizing to the other person. And it’s not saving me anything. And so the, it’s beyond simply establishing what those roles are, there has to be some commitment to letting go to and saying, okay, if you’re going to be the CFO, then I’m going to trust that you know what you’re doing, and I’m not going to hover over you and tell you how to do it.

Dr. Robin Buckley You know, it’s so hard for women, you know, and I know both of us spend a lot of time working with female clients, this idea that we, that perfect is everything, that we have to adopt the 1950s model, you know, outdated and thankfully outdated model of what a woman was, what a mother was, what a wife was. And it’s not that that went away, we still have to do all that. And we have to be the amazing, you know, powerhouse professional, who also can do everything beautifully on Pinterest and all those things. So we didn’t let go of anything. We just got more dumped on top of us. And when we delineate these roles and let go of some of that, it does allow us to realize that we don’t have to do it all. We can choose to not do it all. And it actually is more beneficial for us in all the roles we want to be in, that I’m not going to be exhausted, I’ll have a little extra for my kids, and they won’t be driving me, you know, to a level of frustration because I’m tired. Or I’ll have a level of focus and energy for my partner at the end of the day where we might connect physically or sexually as, as you know, as a couple, because I haven’t used it all up that it really lets go of that idea that, you know, when people say women can have it all I’m like, but they don’t have to choose to have it all. They can choose the ones, the things that they want, rather than what they shouldn’t be doing.

Kim Meninger Hmm. Oh, I love that a lot. Yeah, because that having it all thing isn’t what it’s cracked up to be.

Dr. Robin Buckley Oh, it’s tiring to say, oh, and I’m like all, what does it all exactly, because I don’t know if I even want it all. And it can vary, it can fluctuate. And that’s the other thing about with couples coaching, it’s this idea that, you know, a lot of the couples that have worked with me, what ends up happening is they come in for either quarterly, or twice a year, or even just annual check-ins with me. And those are their opportunities to again, build in the construct from business where there’s an evaluation of their mission statement and evaluation of their roles, we actually take the time to think about is this still working? Is this what we still want as a couple and as individuals within the couple, which is something that I don’t know, if a lot of couples do on a regular basis. They say they do it. They’re like, Oh, how are you? How are you? How are you today? That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about a strategic, again, objective kind of check-in and say no, really, how is this working? Is our mission statement still where, where we were going? Or where we want to go? Are these roles stellar, okay, or are you not liking one of these roles? And you’d rather me do it now. And what can we shift? So it’s really making sure that the plan that was established continues to work, which we hope we do regularly in business, at least successful businesses do that. We have our annual reviews every year, but how many couples really sit down? And I do not meet on a date. Because I have a couple say, okay, well, we’ll go on a date, we’ll do this. I’m like, no, no, no, dates are fun and romantic, and all of the good, like the bells and whistles. This is a strategy session, to sit down and really look at the things you’ve outlined in your business plan for your marriage, making sure it’s all on track, and if not making adjustments that will put you back on track, so.

Kim Meninger I love that distinction between a date and a strategy session. Because that there might be people who think that adopting this model takes the romance or takes the passion or sort of the, the love out of the relationship, and it makes it more analytical. And but it sounds like you’re really creating space for both.

Dr. Robin Buckley Yeah, I mean, when you think about again, and I, I constantly go back to that business framework, when you think about some of the most amazing businesses that some of us can, can recognize, even if we’re not in the business realm. So you know, when we think about Google, especially the beginning of Google, and when it was becoming so successful, because they had a clear mission statement, and it did have a clear delineation of roles. There was a lot of fun elements to Google, you know, people were, you know, flying around the Google headquarters on skateboards and, and whatever else, and they had games built-in because people knew what their roles are, what to expect from the organization, and the organization knew what to expect from them. So it left room then for the fun and for the creativity and the play. And you’re right, couples have or individuals have pushed back, say no, I don’t, you know, my, my relationship isn’t business. But I don’t understand. And I’ll very often stop, but why can’t it be? Why can’t it be all the good parts that will make a business strong, and it’ll make your marriage or relationship strong? So then you can be zooming around the hall on your skateboard or whatever it might be that you, you know, when we hear about some of these businesses that work really hard and have a strong platform, and then some of their employees get huge bonuses, or trips or whatever. That’s because they did all the work to create that strong foundation. It’s the same in a relationship, you do the work to put in the strong foundation. It doesn’t detract from the fun and the love and the sexual attraction. It allows room and space to enhance those areas. [Yeah.] What I’ve been told from the couples that I work with.

Kim Meninger I mean, it makes perfect sense to me because what you’re really describing is imposing structure that really clarifies a lot of things and makes it less stressful if there is a conflict. I mean, I always think one of the benefits of process, one of the benefits of these kinds of models is that when, when these things are predefined and you kind of know what the structure looks like, it does make it easier to address challenges when they come up. But if you don’t have any structure or framework, anything for the relationship, and then you stumble into a conflict… And especially if emotions are running high, what tools do you leverage? Like, right? Where, where do you get that support that you need? And so I’m a big proponent of really thinking through. What are we going to do, in the workplace, in particular, is that when I generally have these conversations is like, okay, we’re about to start a new project together, what are we going to do if we encounter a conflict? How are we going to communicate with you?

Dr. Robin Buckley Right? Right? Yeah, there’s, there’s an SOP, or operating procedure for how you’re going to move forward. And you don’t wait till you’re in the middle of it to create the asset, hopefully, I know, hopefully, because then emotions are high, or insecurities or higher fear. And those are not platforms to make decisions, or to make any kind of truly strategic, beneficially strategic, moving forward. So if you have an SOP already in place, then you know what to do in those moments, you just, you pull out the protocol, or you remember the protocol, and you follow it, and it gives you that structure until you’re back on solid ground. It can do the same thing in a relationship where it’s like this, this is how we’re going to move forward. This is what’s going to happen when I, when we start to notice, you know, there’s a breakdown in the communication, what’s our first step? Or our first step is, we find the 15 minutes during that day to determine when we’re going to meet and talk about this. So we actually put it on our calendars, and we both have it on the calendar, and then we meet and when we’re meeting, we make sure that the kids or whoever’s just going to be a potential distraction are away. And then you know, one of us is going to be the note-taker, and we’re going to create objectives. I mean, it’s so easy to have that, if it’s already in place, you don’t have to think about it, you don’t have to plan for it in terms of doing it right there in the middle of the crisis, or the challenge. It’s already built there for you. I mean, any crisis management team will tell you, they don’t develop a protocol during the crisis, it’s already in place. And then they just pull up the manual virtually or not. And they follow it. That’s what couples can do. And I’ve had couples it, cracked again. And I love that the model works. It just sometimes it’s funny to really see it in action. And I had a couple again, probably a year or two ago. And in the middle of a session, we’re doing an in-person session, because both couple of, both the members happen to be in the state that I had, I have a physical office, and they wanted to meet in person because they had never met me in person. So they were there in front of me, they were doing a check-in. I think they met with me twice a year at that point. And the emotions actually started to, to come to the surface. And you could hear the tension in both their voices. And then all of a sudden, the wife was digging around in her purse, and she whips out, she had printed out a hard copy of their, their marriage business plan. And she’s flipping through it and she got to their protocol. She’s like, right here, page four. This is not how we do things. This is not our protocol. And I am just sitting there like, oh, I would laugh except that’s awesome. And the husband read it. He’s like, right, I totally forgot. That is absolutely right. By let’s, let’s follow this. And, and I just sit there saying I don’t even know if they need me at that point. Because they are like, yep, it’s this is our protocol. I’m like, that’s cool. That’s really cool. That’s amazing.

Kim Meninger I love that so much. I’m, I’m curious if there are. And obviously, every relationship is different. But are there things that tend to, once you’ve established this kind of model with the people that you work with, are there, there tend to be things that might derail the process? Like are there certain things?

Dr. Robin Buckley Yes, I can easily and this will not be a surprise, transitions. Any transition. Absolutely. That’s typically when I get the call saying things are not going well anymore, can we get a session and if it’s, you know, before one of their usual check-ins. So birth of a new child, loss of a child, I’ve seen that really derail a couple, loss of jobs or new jobs. So the transitions aren’t necessarily negative transitions. Sometimes they’re really positive transitions. But then there needs to be a regrouping of okay, we’re trying to follow a model that was based on a different approach or a different life. And now we need to readjust. So you know, we, one person has a new job and a lot more responsibilities, maybe the roles need to adjust a little bit, at least, at least temporarily, until things get, you know, to a more stable place. Certainly when a couple loses a child, and that is typically when I say I’m happy to continue working with you, but you also need to go to therapy because loss of a child is a crisis situation. So transitions are probably the biggest one, positive or negative transitions that a couple really needs to maybe a little bit more of a deep dive into, into their protocols, into their roles, into their mission statement. Again, not necessarily because they have to change, but at least to make sure that those that are already in place are going to support the couple to get through the transition.

Kim Meninger Well, and it seems to me too, that there’d be just like we’re talking about proactive protocols. Even just knowing that transitions are likely to create the need to make adjustments to the plan might be helpful too, if people can catch themselves and say, oh, I know why this is happening, right, we, we’re in a change situation, we’ve got to go back and update accordingly.

Dr. Robin Buckley Exactly, it’s, it’s often part of their evaluation phase, where if they see it, if you know, they build into their protocol, that if a transition, so if they can foresee a transition, then they immediately move up the date for their evaluation, and they try and do as much proactively as they can. And then typically, again, they build in closer evaluations until they’re back again, on kind of a more secure footing.

Kim Meninger Wow. And I would imagine that there are people listening that are wondering, hmm, I wonder if that would work for me? Or what would it, like, I guess, what advice would you have for people who are just processing what you’re saying and thinking about what my, what would my first step be? Or how to think about whether this would be valuable to their relationship?

Dr. Robin Buckley Well, I usually push back a little bit when people ask that. And so I actually bring people back to their, their wedding if they’re married. And I ask them, how much did you spend on your wedding? And in the average in America is $25,000. And I’ll say, okay, how many hours do you think you planned, you know, for your wedding, and the average in America is about 250 to 300 hours. And so I’ll ask them, well, do you think 12 hours of work at my fee, which is well under $25,000, even with 12 sessions, do you think it would be worth it to make sure your several decade relationship might be more successful, because you spent a lot of money and time on an eight hour day, rather than a decade’s long relationship? So I do push back a little bit hard on that one. Like, I don’t know, is it? Is it? Is your relationship worth it? You know, it’s not been certainly yeah, definitely, it’s time to look at a whole different level of professional intervention. But, you know, if you if you’re willing to put that amount of time into an eight-hour wedding, why wouldn’t you put some time into really strengthening maybe, if not the one of the most important relationships in your life?

Kim Meninger Absolutely. I couldn’t agree with you more. And I’m curious. It maybe it goes back to the crisis situation that you described. But is there anybody that wouldn’t be a fit for this?

Dr. Robin Buckley Yeah, there, there are people who absolutely are stuck, in my opinion, on the idea that love, you know, marriage is about love, and no place for business, then then I’m not going to try and convince them. I, you know, I have a conversation with them. But I’m not here to force a model that really they are adamantly against. Relationships that are in crisis that certainly have some need for therapy. And I try and help counsel couples around that. So they know clearly why I won’t accept them as couples, and, you know, get an image and refer them to a therapist that might help them. One of the biggest questions I get is, well, if, what if you’re not in business, you know, how does it work if you don’t understand business? You know, we are not talking about going to Harvard Business School for this kind of model. These are the basic premises. And the best part is, is I start off with whenever I use the term, stop me and I’ll explain it because I didn’t go to business school either. I learned about business as I went, as needed, and for my clients. So I certainly don’t have a level of, you know, I don’t have a master’s degree in business. So I think I can explain it because I’m not coming from a business background other than the work I do with my, my executive coaching clients. I’m coming from a perspective of that’s a model that works. And I’ve learned about it to be able to explain it to other people who don’t have a business background. People in business get it immediately. It’s the others that I take the time and sometimes it helps even the company, even the member of the relationship who is in business because they hear about it in terms of how does that apply to a relationship level of what we’re going to be doing?

Kim Meninger Yeah, I can see that too. I mean, what, maybe I’m too close to it, because I do have a business degree. But I think it seems simple, simple enough that you can conceptually grasp this and kind of understand that. Corporations are structured in a certain hierarchical way with different roles and things like that.

Dr. Robin Buckley So yeah, we’re not talking a high level like where you really need to, you know, be doing research on the side. Just understand what we’re talking about. It is, it is definitely something that is at a level that is, I think, at a lay person’s level. And then if if something needs to explain that, let’s talk about it and explain it, because, and I think that’s true for any kind of work. You know, I’m sure there are coaching clients you’ve worked with where you’ve had to explain concepts around how the brain works, so that they really understand it. And then once they understand it, it’s like an immediate lightbulb, and it’s like, okay, now I’m good to go.

Kim Meninger I just thought of a question. Do your clients bring their children into this conversation? Is there? Yes, kind of language?

Dr. Robin Buckley Yep, I call them collaterals. Because, again, when we’re talking about children, I know you’re a mom, I’m a mom, there is a level of emotional pull as soon as I even say the word children, and sometimes defensiveness and just roles and responsibilities. There’s so much that goes into just the word and the concept of children. But when I say collaterals, that brings it down a notch. They know what we’re talking about. We’ve, I’ve explained like, that’s what we’re talking about. But collaterals also incorporates extended family. So in-laws or you know, biological parents of one of the, the members in the relationship. Anybody that impacts was like the term anybody that impacts the business, the relationship. And we talk about in those terms, and we a lot of times, particularly with children, there’s a lot of SOPs, like how are we moving forward? How do we stay a unified leadership when we’re dealing with the kids, because kid issues can be really challenging to a relationship. So again, if you have an SOP, you know who the point person is. That’s what keeps couples from really devolving into arguments or conflict over kids.

Kim Meninger Do you recommend, depending on the age and maturity of the children, introducing this language and kind of giving, because kids, kids view their parents as a model for their own relationships, and I could see how it would be potentially beneficial for them to even be able to learn from their parents’ experience and take it with them?

Dr. Robin Buckley Yeah, I’ve had, I’ve had a good number of couples who have done just that, and they don’t sit them down and say, this is how we’re going to be doing thing. But they use the terminology like well, you know, is that part of our procedures, as how we function as a family? Is that how, so whether they call them SOPs, or just procedures, you know, or, you know, will your mama need a new computer? Well, you know, dad is really the Chief Technology Officer, so why don’t you start with him, and then let me know what the research comes back, you know. They do, they start to, it starts to, like, in a good way, infiltrate all areas of their life. And on a, on a slight tangent, but related, what it then does is that couples learn that they don’t have to be different people, in their professional lives and their personal lives, that the things that they’re strong with in their professional life can help them in their personal life. And the things they’re good at in their personal life can also help them in their professional life. And I think that also reduces some of the exhaustion when we’re not just changing hats. For every setting we’re going into, that actually, we can be the same person and use the same approaches, and have the same level of success in both realms.

Kim Meninger Mm-hmm. That is so powerful. I think that, that everything that you’re saying is really, really powerful and really insightful. I think this is going to be helpful to so many people listening just, you know whether or not they take the next step and reach out to you, just some of the, the suggestions that you share are really great foundational next steps for anybody who’s thinking about this. So, I would love to ask you, Robin, how can people find you if they want to follow up with you?

Dr. Robin Buckley So I certainly, certainly on my website is easy enough, DrRobinBuckley, no periods, no spaces dot com. I’m also on Instagram, I use Instagram strongly because a lot of my clients asked for reminders in between sessions or ways to kind of stay focused on what they’re doing. So whether they’re executive clients, or whether they’re their couples clients, I use Instagram for that. And then I am also on LinkedIn where a lot of my articles can be found in both the executive and couples realm. So a lot of just different ways to connect with people depending on their needs and preferences.

Kim Meninger Thank you so much for bringing this conversation to this forum. You know, like I said, this is, I think, the first time I’ve had a conversation about relationships in connection to confidence and just how we see ourselves. So I just think this was such a great way to have this discussion and thank you so much for being here.

Dr. Robin Buckley Kim, thank you for having me. This was really such a pleasure and I really was honored to be part of your, part of the work you do so thank you.

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