Coach Bernadette's Bio
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Once upon a time, you were a little girl with a big dream that you promised you'd make real one day.
If, like me, you were raised on '60s TV shows like Father Knows Best, Donna Reed, and Dennis the Menace, you probably came to believe that every little girls' dream was to grow up, marry their knight in shining armor, start a family, get a dog, and live happily after.
I know I definitely did!
By the time I was in my early 20s, I was married. By the time I was in my late 20s, I'd left the workforce and thrown myself entirely into raising my two small children.
Being a mother was everything I expected, nothing like I expected, and so much more! The love I felt towards my children was indescribable, but, as the years began to roll by, I began to feel something else. I began to feel the need to do and be more than "just" a stay-at-home Mom.
I didn't know what this "something more" could be at first. But one day, purely by chance, I picked up a magazine at Barnes & Noble.
While absently flipping through its pages, an ad caught my eye. It was from an organization called the International Network for Children and Families ("INCF"), inviting people to learn more about the work of Alfred Adler, Rudolf Dreikurs, and Parent Education.
Little did I know it at the time, but discovering that little ad would lead me to discover my passion for Coaching, personal development, and helping people build relationships that could stand the test of time!
Within a year of seeing that ad, I was a certified INCF Parent Educator.
This was a lot of work! Coaching was in its infancy back then: this long before anyone with a website (and a weekend's worth of “training”) could claim to be a Coach.
I was still spending my days at home with my family but, at night, I was busy helping other families create long-term, loving relationships with their children.
I taught parenting classes and lead workshops on positive discipline and redirecting children's behavior; I partnered with local hospitals and other child advocates to promote parent education; and I wrote and published my first book, 101 Parenting Recipes.
Best of all, I also launched my first business: a coaching firm for parents.
Sometimes forever after isn't forever, after all.
And then, one day, after 24-years of marriage, I found myself thrust into the middle of a high conflict divorce. There was someone else. My white picket fence had termites! My little girl's dream was crushed.
My divorce dragged on for two-and-a-half years. It was one of the most difficult periods of my life but, thankfully, I emerged on the other side of divorce with my confidence, my pride, and my optimism intact.
I still believed in true love, but I knew, if I was going to find it, I'd have to radically rethink everything I thought I knew about love, romance, and relationships.
Little girls with dreams become women with vision.
I decided to see life after divorce as a tale of epic adventure and discovery!
Although I hadn't been on a date in decades, I didn't view my newly single status as something to be afraid or ashamed of. I saw it was an opportunity to throw out my old beliefs about relationships, develop new approaches to meeting and partnering with men, and discover what real love meant for me!
Perhaps more importantly, being newly single also gave me an opportunity to rediscover the parts of myself I'd lost touch with after two decades of being a wife and a mother.
These were tall tasks, but I had the support of wonderful friends and colleagues. I also had the enormous advantage of almost two decades' worth of training and experience as a Coach. I decided to use that training and experience to help me systematically tackle the challenges of dating after divorce.
I won't lie: it wasn't easy...especially at first. There were plenty of missteps and plenty of blind alleys.
And, of course, there were plenty of bad dates!
I saw it all! Men who ended up being much older than they looked in their profile pictures. Creepy guys who came on way too strong with “seductive” one-liners. Scam artists that preyed on vulnerable and lonely divorcees. From time to time, I entertained doubts about being (or wanting to be) married again. What a frustrating process!
Through it all, though, I managed to hold onto my sense of optimism. I knew that I deserved true love. I kept learning and I kept moving forward.
Relatively early on, I realized part of the problem was that, as a teenager, I'd been trained to date randomly.
I had unconsciously acquired the belief that dating was essentially a numbers game with few real rules, apart from "look good" and "attract as many men as possible." Up until that point, I'd implicitly assumed dating was more about being lucky than being smart: all you could do was simply put yourself out there and hoped for the best. Vague criteria (like "chemistry") was all you had to zero-in on potential mates. And even if relationship after relationship lead to dead-ends and heartbreak, you just had to keep dating and eventually you'd find "the One."
None of this made any sense! No wonder so many of our first marriages end in divorce!
If random dating was the problem, what was the solution?
The answer seemed obvious: deliberate dating. I needed to identify what specific traits I was looking for in a partner, and I needed to link every stage of the dating process to "screening" for those traits.
This was a huge breakthrough, but it also raised some big questions!
What specific traits was I looking for in a man? And how could I know, with some degree of certainty, that a man actually had those traits?
I'd learned the hard way that many older men in the dating pool weren't always honest. And, more to the point, asking men to fill out a questionnaire or grilling them on a first date was a surefire way to send them running!
For the second time since my divorce, I was feeling confused, discouraged, and overwhelmed as a later-in-life single.
But, once again, I kept going!
I decided to hit "pause" on my dating and devote my free time to researching answers to my questions.
I didn't go on a date again for almost two years.
I read book after book on relationships, dating, and romance; I reached out to fellow Coaches with my questions and asked them for feedback and recommendations; I talked to other single divorcees.
I learned to distinguish the work of real relationship experts from the work of grifters & New Age gurus who offered single women plenty in the way of general advice but very little in the way of practical techniques or real results.
I gave myself permission to worry less about finding someone and worry more about finding myself.
I took up golfing. I reconnected with my love of dancing. I kept growing as a person.
My patience paid off and, eventually, my downtime and hard work lead me to another huge breakthrough!
I discovered that compatibility, not chemistry or physical attraction, was the crucial factor driving long-term relationship success.
I came to understand that identifying the traits I was looking for in a compatible partner was inseparable from the process of "partnering with myself first," a phrase I coined to describe the sometimes difficult but always rewarding task of discovering my core needs and values.
I realized that I could use much of the small talk and game-playing that surrounded online dating to my advantage by asking men simple, open-ended questions about themselves and their lives to discreetly assess their compatibility. (I also realized that by making these "connecting questions'' fun, light, and flirty, I could easily avoid making every date feel like a joyless test or job interview.)
I belatedly grasped the fact that relationships are built, not discovered, and that the skills I needed to date deliberately were the same skills I needed to find and keep true love.
Armed with this newfound understanding, I re-entered the online dating scene.
There were still missteps, but consistently applying my insights into deliberate dating and compatibility gave me a sense of control, purpose, and perspective I'd never experienced before as a single.
Dating was no longer the anxiety-producing chore it once was. Red flags were easier to spot. I didn't have to wait until a face-to-face meeting to get a general idea of whether or not a man was a good match. I came to genuinely enjoy connecting with men on and offline, even the guys I knew weren't a good fit romantically. (It turns out there are actually a lot of good guys out there, if you know how to find them.)
Dating stopped feeling like a gauntlet I had to run as quickly as possible. I was able to slow down and really appreciate my search for a compatible connection.
The best relationships are the ones you never saw coming!
In the end, I finally found my happy ending!
Within one year of re-entering the dating pool, I met Stu, the man who would eventually become my second husband, and made the transition from single woman to committed partner.
As my relationship with Stu deepened, I made the decision to launch a new Coaching firm, Compatible Connections, to help other divorced women skip right to the good parts of dating after divorce, without having to go through all the trouble, frustration, and heartache I did.
At the heart of my new business were two Signature Series - Partner With Yourself First and Seek, Sort, & Select Your Compatible Partner Online - that organized and collected the insights and techniques I'd developed over the course of my journey from befuddled divorcee to deliberate dater to happily remarried.
True love stories never end!
Since founding Compatible Connections, I've acquired over a decade's worth of experience showing single women how to find the love of their lives after divorce.
I've worked with hundreds of clients whose stories reminded me so much of my own, and it's been my privilege to help them re-discover the joys of dating and coupling.
I get up everyday eager to help another single woman write her happy ending. And I'm grateful for everything I've learned, and continue to learn, in the process.
As it turns out, my little girl dreams did manage to get one thing right: true love stories never end!
We understand that every women's situation is unique and that you might still have questions.
We'd love to help you learn more about how Compatible Connection's services can transform your love life by putting you in front of ideal potential partners.