Coach Lee on marriage, relationships, breakups, and parenting.

Dr. Jill connects with Coach Lee: The King of the No Contact Rule

Dr. Jill recently sat down with relationship guru and seasoned father, Coach Lee. Coach Lee, who is well known for his “no contact” rule in managing relationship strain, walks through his journey in becoming an expert in helping couples with their relationships and outlines some of his offerings and insights after decades in this field.

He also opens up about his own personal experiences, including life as a young father and his own marriage.

Dr. Jill: Welcome to Motherhood Feels Hindsight is 20/20. I’m Dr. Jill Garrett, a licensed psychologist who specializes in maternal mental health and host of Motherhood Feels Hindsight is 20/20. Stay tuned for a special fatherhood feels episode with seasoned dad and relationship expert Coach Lee. @Coach Lee, who has 65 million plus views on his YouTube channel, has decades of experience in supporting couples with second chances in relationships. You can check out his videos by searching for Coach Lee on YouTube and his website,, is where you’ll find resources like his emergency breakup and emergency marriage kit.

Coach Lee has been featured in the New York Times, USA Today, the Today Show, Australia, Cosmopolitan and Glamour Magazine, the New York Post, Men’s Health, to name just a few. And I’m excited that he now gets to include Motherhood Feels to that list. Listen in as he talks through his fatherhood and relationship insights, next.

Hey guys, it’s me, Jill. Before we start, help Motherhood feels grow by subscribing to the podcast. Leaving five-star reviews can’t hurt either. And if you’re interested in supporting more moms and families by bringing motherhood feels to your workplace, you can connect with me at to learn more. You can follow me on Instagram @MotherhoodFeels all one word. And head over to to check out my self-paced online course: Motherhood Feels: Before (and even after) Baby Boot Camp that walks through evidence-based strategies for healthy coping with all your motherhood feels. Thanks for listening.

Dr. Jill: Hi, Coach Lee. Thanks for being here.

Coach Lee: Hi, Dr. Jill. I’m glad to be here. Thank you.

Dr. Jill: Yeah.

Dr. Jill: So let’s start with you telling us a little bit about yourself.

Coach Lee: Well, I’m a relationship coach, and I’ve been doing it for a while and started really young due to basically a tragedy. I was working for a nonprofit, mostly doing Internet marketing, and I was traveling with the president of the company and learning his material. And one of their marriage coaches developed a terminal illness and had to resign, had to retire early. He was a terrific person. And they asked me would I fill in for two weeks just because I knew the materials. So, I wouldn’t be speaking under my own authority. I would be saying, Dr. So and so says this and that kind of thing. And after about two months where they had still not hired a replacement, they asked me if I wanted to go to some workshops and get some certifications and some things like that and continue doing this at least part time. And so I said yes, and I did. And that’s how I got started with relationship coaching.

Dr. Jill: Well, you have a number of different offerings, and I believe your website is Myexbackcoach.

Coach Lee: Yeah.

Dr. Jill: And I have to just say, I have some people I know who have utilized your resources and found them to be really valuable. And I’m understanding that some of your resources are for helping for second chances in relationships. Tell me a little bit about what some of your offerings offer.

Coach Lee: Well, for marriages in crisis, and it can also be a marriage like relationship. If there’s kids, they live together. Some of it is defined by the person, but basically where you have a situation where a family is going to be torn apart. And so I am committed to trying to keep as many families together as I can because I’ve seen just how bad it can be for these kids when they lose their parents, when their parents split up.

Sometimes it has to happen because especially if there’s danger or someone’s becoming abusive. I don’t know of anyone who says, oh, they should stay together. But a lot of times, people will be amazed that if you have two people who are just open to the idea of working on it, how much progress they can make. And that’s what relationship reignite, the workshop is all about, is showing people that it could work or how it could work. And we’ve been doing this for close to 20 years through three different organizations because people move on and people go their own way. But it’s for marriages in crisis, and our goal is to save the marriage. But we’re very, I guess you could say, sympathetic to the person who wants to leave.

They usually feel like that we’re not lecturing them or that we’re not opposed to them, but that we’re on their side and we’re helping them think this through. So that’s relationship reignite. And it’s in addition to the courses I have and the YouTube channel I have that’s oftentimes more focused at dating relationships, though I do have quite a few videos on marriage, and a lot of married people watch the videos on dating because the relationship principles are still generally true. But, yeah, I appreciate you asking.

Dr. Jill: Yeah. So, your YouTube channel, how can people find that?

Coach Lee: If you go to YouTube and type Coach Lee, you’ll find me. Or you can just go to YouTube and then put the slash at RealCoachlee. And it’s pretty easy to find if you just type in Coach Lee.

Dr. Jill: Okay.

Dr. Jill: And then if a person wanted to work on reigniting their marriage and they were to take your course, tell me a little bit about what it would look like.

Coach Lee: It’s live. It’s a hands-on experience, I guess you could say, where I’m going to roll up my sleeves and really get involved with people. And there’s only about, we actually capped it at 20 couples. And that doesn’t mean that every couple is represented by both people. A lot of times it’s just one person because the other person has left and is not interested in working on it, and the person will come by themselves. And that’s where we can help them with trying to get this person to come to the table and at least be open to the idea of working on it. So, we’re very good with the person who is what we would call standing alone in the marriage. And so that’s a live workshop. It’s usually over a weekend. It’s three days, it’s about 14 hours. And it does have follow up support from us. And so people who have been told by their spouse that they want a divorce, the other spouse has said, I’m leaving, I want a divorce.

Oftentimes they stay around for a while in the home. But that situation is the type of situation that we’re going to work with in the workshop. And so it’s privacy focused so people don’t have to worry about their identity being revealed. It is used on Zoom, and we tell people ahead of time, here’s how you change your name, if you want to just have a pin name or if you just want to use a first name. And people don’t have to show their faces, but people do want to be in audio a lot of times because they ask questions, but they can also use the chat and they can also email us questions.

So we really help people not feel like that they’re on display for what they’re going through. And it’s a powerful thing. I’ve seen a lot of situations where I didn’t even think that it had a chance that it would work, and yet it did.

Just because if you just get two people and you can show them some principles about, first of all, what’s going to really happen if they divorce. And a lot of times people have sort of a pie in the sky Mirage view of it that I’m going to divorce this person and my kids are going to be okay, they’re not going to be one bit traumatized from this, and they’re not going to be upset at me for it, and I’m going to go be with this other person or find another person or just go be free. And I’m finally going to get to experience life. And that’s kind of what they view, and that’s really not the case.

And that’s kind of the first thing that I help them see. And it’s a bit of a challenge because a lot of times they have legitimate issues. I want to leave the marriage because of this, and I’m not dismissing those, and I think that’s an important part of it. But I can usually help the person see that this is not going to be the write off into the sunset that they maybe thought it was. And so if your spouse has told you they want to leave, then that’s something that I would encourage you to consider the workshop anyway, because I’m not going to be lecturing them or attacking them or guilt tripping them.

We’re smarter than that. We know that that’s not how it has to be approached, but that’s the workshop, and it’s something that I hope can really put a dent in the divorce rate at some point, maybe even if it’s just 10th of a percentage, at least I’ll know I did something. We did something to help.

Dr. Jill: Yeah. And so it sounds like it’s an intensive experience and you are finding that it’s really valuable for the people that you’re connecting with. Even if you don’t have a lot of hope in some of the situations, you’ve had some hopeful and positive outcomes. And I’m hearing how you really use that reality testing in the initial conversations with people about what their experience might really look like if they weren’t able to come to the table and take on some of these new principles, new strategies, new techniques in their relationship. Sounds pretty interesting. So I’m wondering, I believe you’re also a father. Tell me a little bit about that.

Coach Lee: I am a father. I have two sons, and it was early in the process. Let’s just say that we jokingly say that the first one was a honeymoon baby. I think I had turned 21. Yeah, I turned 21 when my first son was born. One of the beautiful things about it is that I’m 43, my oldest son is 22.

I find that among my friends who have young adult children that my son and I seem to be on a similar level as far as our understanding of each other and our ability to relate to each other. Whereas when you are significantly older than your child, you might not have some of that. And I’m certainly not saying that people don’t have the love for their kids or their kids don’t have the same love for their parents. But I’m glad, even though at the time I kind of felt like, if I’m being honest, that my life was over. I’ve had this kid, I’m only 21 and I’m just in prison now because they’ll say it’s an 18-year commitment and it definitely is. However, it was nothing like what I feared it would be. And I actually really enjoyed it when he was little. And I’m glad now.

For example, we play golf together a lot and he’s much better than me. He’s a college player and he owns a high school record and he owns a college record. He’s a very good player. So he trounces me, but that’s because he’s really good. It’s not because I’m so much older than him that I can’t physically compete, because for a few holes we can compete. There’s something to be said about that.

I have an 18-year-old as well, and it’s pretty similar there in that we do relate to each other. We’re in that interesting stage where they are young adults, which means my role as a father is quite a bit different. I’m not the punisher, I’m not the heavy or micromanaging them anymore. I’m their friend and their guide and their mentor in a lot of ways. And they do their own thing and they’re making their own decisions. But I’m here and I’m happy to give my opinion. And you know what is great is that they ask for my opinion a lot.

They want to know what I think about things, which I’m honored that they do. And a lot of us have that experience. When we’re twelve, our parents are idiots. And then when we hit about 19 or 20, we start to think these people know their stuff. Some of us do anyway, and at least we see them as having some experience. So that’s my story with kids, and I’m thrilled that I’m able to still relate to them and compete with them and just have a good experience with them. And obviously older parents can do that too. But I am looking at it through my own experience, of course.

Dr. Jill: Well, it sounds like they are in a place where they really trust and enjoy their experiences with you. And I’m wondering, as you reflect back over the past couple of decades as a dad, what, in hindsight, you wish you had known ahead of your fatherhood journey?

Coach Lee: Well, that’s a great question. I wish that when I was younger that I would have not focused as much on work and that I would have focused more on them. It’s tough when you have a nine to five because you can’t just decide your hours. But I would have been picky about my time. I would have been a lot more careful. And when you are in your early 20s, it’s not the most fun thing you could do, to sit on the floor and push a toy truck back and forth with a two-year-old.

Fortunately, I think this was because of something my dad said to me when I was younger. And to this day I think about it, and I wonder what was behind his statement. But he said something about being a young parent because he was also a young parent.

He was about 20 when I was born, so we kind of had the same experience. But he told me, he said that there were a lot of benefits to having kids young, but that being in your twenty s, you don’t appreciate them being little as much as you do when you hit your 30s or forty s. And I think his exact wording was basically, if you’re too much of a kid, you won’t appreciate having a kid because you’re still wanting to be treated like a kid and have it your way and all that. And that they can kind of get in the way of that. And he worded it better than that, but that’s what he was saying. And so that’s one of the challenges that a young father will face. But I’m glad that I kind of thought to myself that one day I’m probably going to look back and be glad that I did these things. And so, whereas I wish I had done more, I was good about doing those things.

I remember sitting, pushing a truck back and forth with my older son when he was little and thinking, I want to go do something else. I want to go watch TV, I want to walk in there and talk with my wife, or I wanted to get on Xbox and play video games with my buddies, which I know that sounds real mature, but I was able to kind of say, one day you’re going to look back and be glad you did this instead. And that was my attitude that I tried to have. But if I was going to wish I knew something or do something differently, it would be, I would do more of that because I did enough of it to where I don’t sit around and have just a lot of regrets. But looking back, I wish I had done even more, that I would have seized the moment and realized that this is fleeting.

Yes, they certainly grow up too fast. And having my youngest be a senior in high school, it’s a reminder because I’ll even wake up some mornings and I’ll kind of do the math and I’ll say, yeah, he’s a senior. That’s right. Kind of a reality check.

So that’s one of the things I would like to go back to my younger self and say, you know, you’ve got the right idea. And trust me, I had the wrong idea on a lot of things, but I was pretty good about saying, I need to spend this time with them, and one day I’m going to be really happy that I did. And I think I was a little bit beyond my years with that area, probably because of my dad, but I would probably tell myself, you’re on the right track, but double it, because recently I saw this online.

They said the one thing you can’t get back is time. You can get money back. And I wish I would have told myself in my early 20s, yes, you need to earn, you need to provide, and you need to go get it. But you also need to prioritize as much as possible, these two, because they will grow up and you’ll still have work, but nothing you can do can get that time back.

Dr. Jill: I’d imagine most every parent could relate, no matter how old they are, that it’s sometimes not the most fun to play trucks on the floor and we’d rather be doing other things. And so I think that’s totally relatable. But I’m also hearing how you’re saying it’s really valuable to prioritize these moments because it doesn’t last forever. And that might be a good reminder for people, too, when things are hard, that it doesn’t last forever at the hard stuff as well. You mentioned your dad, and I’m curious, did you come from a family of ongoing marriage or was there a divorce in your history?

Coach Lee: My parents were together until my mom passed away at 56. She died young, but they were 100% together. No divorce. So I was one of the very fortunate ones. And some people will say when they’re grown, it doesn’t matter anymore. And that’s a lot of the couples who come to the workshop. One of them is even saying that to the other, they’re saying, look, kids don’t matter anymore because they’re grown and they are out of the house. And so it doesn’t matter if I leave you, it’s going to hurt you, but you’ll get over it and the kids will be fine because they’re already done. But that’s actually not true. We have statistics on how divorce affects even grown people because it rocks their foundation.

Their entire life, their entire world is built on these two people who loved each other and got married or didn’t. But they had this life, they had this child. Even as an adult, when your foundation is rocked just because you’re an adult, it doesn’t mean that you’re invincible to it. And the data backs that up unquestionably. And you would be amazed at the people I’ve spoken to who want me to talk to their parents who are. This person is 31. Will you talk to my mom? Will you talk to my dad crying on the phone because their parents are divorcing. And it is kind of popular in culture to say that kids are. They’ll say they’re resilient. Well, yeah, we all can live. We can live forward. We can get past things. That doesn’t mean that it’s ideal.

If we approach it as looking past ourselves, that other people are affected by our decisions, then that’s where I think we can begin to at least look at reality better. And I think that my parents were great examples of that because they saw the family unit as, first of all, their responsibility, because they brought us into the world. I didn’t ask to be born.

They brought me in. And so at least trying to make it to where I had the best upbringing they could give me, I think that they saw that as their duty and their responsibility and that we need to make this work, not just for the two of us, but for the two of these people that we brought into the world. And the great thing about it, though, was my parents both valued peace, and they were not interested in fighting.

They were quick, just say, let’s not talk about it anymore. We disagree, but I love you, so let’s move on. They were great about that. And it was a very low drama household. Always. We were trying to smile, and we didn’t have it great. We were lower middle class. My mom’s mom died, and her pretty young. I believe she was early 50s as well. And we had some difficulties. We had a lot of difficulties, but we had each other.

So that was just a wonderful thing. And that’s how I try to pattern my own family, is to seek peace and to say this over here doesn’t matter. The four of us matter. Here’s a smile and welcome home. Glad you’re here. That’s what’s important. And we’re not perfect at that, obviously, but that’s something that I am so glad that my parents gave me and my wife’s parents gave her as well.

Dr. Jill: Yeah, I was sitting here curious. I wonder what it’s like to be married to Coach Lee, who has these different strategies under his belt. What would your wife say?

Coach Lee: Well, she would be very gracious and forgiving because that’s who she is. And that’s who I would encourage anyone to marry, is someone who seeks peace and is gracious and forgiving because she’s a terrific wife and mother. And he is probably a much better coach than I am. She coaches me. Let’s just say that. But we get along very well. And part of that is not because we just happen to be lucky with our personalities. It’s because that’s what we want, because it’s so much better than not getting along. And sometimes it’s that simple.

If you want to get along with somebody and you both make the effort, it can seem easy. And to some people, if they were to look at my marriage, they would say I had an easy marriage, that there’s not strife and arguing and bickering, though we have had bad times and times when I know there was a time when she thought about walking away and there was a time when I thought about walking away. But a lot of couples are going to have that. And you get past that.

If you can stay focused on your family and peace and take it one day at a time and be gracious and forgiving and look at it beyond yourself, that it’s not just you, that it’s the spouse and the kids, then it can actually be really easy. And some people will say, how do you have a great marriage? And I’ll say, well, the first thing is you marry a great person.

Step one. And once you do that, it can feel really easy. But some people marry people who are not great people, but they can become great people. And we have grown together because, like I said, we were married young, and oftentimes we’ll be laying in bed watching a movie on iPad or something, and there’s just this peace. And I’ll think about how it was when we were younger and that we were both more selfish, more focused on ourselves, because that’s part of being younger.

You’re taught to focus mostly on yourself and not for others. And learning to focus on other people is definitely a quicker route to happiness, because if you only focus on yourself and your own happiness, you’re probably not going to be happy because the people around you are going to be unhappy, and you will be amazed at how much that will affect your own happiness. And so my wife is not only a terrific wife, but she’s a terrific mother. And when you have a shared goal with somebody, and even though we don’t just have all these conversations about it, we don’t really clinicalize it at all. It’s natural at this point, but when you admire somebody and you care about them and it’s mutual, it’s actually really easy to just have a smooth sailing, so to speak, and peace in your household. And it’s so important.

So what I’ll tell a lot of people is the saying, would you rather be right or would you rather be happy? Obviously, you don’t want to just let things go that are important and that really matter and you want to have your say. But when you can trust the other person and know that, I know this person has a good heart and I know they’re smart, and sometimes they’re going to be wrong in both of those areas, but that doesn’t change the fact that they’re a great person. It doesn’t change the history. And that’s one of the benefits.

When you’ve been with someone a long time in a marriage, you have both the negatives and the positives that you can look back on. And sometimes people get resentment from the negatives. But if you can, let the positives be what defines this person in your eyes, because it tells you a lot about them. Because the positives, the good treatment of other people, that can be the most difficult part. It’s easy to mess up and it’s easy to be selfish. But if you can see that this person, they made a lot of effort and they were a great provider or a great homemaker or a great parent to my children. And that’s one of the things I remember my dad saying as well. He said, you know, when I really fell in love with your mother was when I watched her being good to you.

He said, when someone’s good to your children, you can fall in love with them again. And that’s just so true. When you look at the other person, it’s not just a spouse to you, but a parent who is good to your children that you share together, obviously. But it’s my child, it’s her child. That’s a powerful thing as well. So I think we do that pretty well. And I’m proud of where my marriage is having started from two really young kids who had no idea what they were getting into.

Dr. Jill: Yeah, some great insights there. And I believe when I was looking into some of your materials. I read something about you having some videos with millions and millions, like 65 million views. Tell me about that. And how did that happen? Obviously, your content is really popular.

Coach Lee: Well, the channel itself is what has the 65 million views. There are a few videos that are into the millions, like 2 million and closer to 3 million when you cross platform. But what happened originally was I was working for another company and it was the second company because the first one split and several employees went a different direction.

So I was with them and I had gotten permission to do some dating videos on my own apart from the company because they had relationship coaches and they had workshops, but they were for marriage only. And a lot of times dating couples will be turned away. And I just thought, well, there’s an audience that needs to be served because they’re going to be the ones who are married later anyway and be great if they had some sort of roadmap or guide so that it’s not just guessing. And a lot of times in society we treat relationships like it’s more magic than method. When that’s not true.

It’s not about how lucky you get. If you have two people who are willing to seek peace and to see the good in each other and to say, if we want a great marriage, then let’s do that and let’s let things slide sometimes. And let’s say, let’s not argue unless we just absolutely have to, and then let’s be respectful. When people just put that effort in, they can be very surprised the results they’ll get. But I told my wife, I said, “I’m going to put up some videos on dating and maybe I’ll make a little extra money on the side in about four or five months.”

I was considering going full time with it because I had a video that just really took off. And it helps when Cosmopolitan magazine does an article about your video. And then that got me onto the Today show in Australia, and then USA Today wanted to interview me, and that video was on basically what someone is thinking after they break up with you.

I ended up doing a second video, and I don’t remember which one was first at this point, but one of them was called “the mind of your ex after a breakup.” And the other one was called, “what is your ex thinking after a breakup?” And I think that that got to the heart of what people really wanted to know because they’re sitting around without hearing from this person. And a lot of times they’ve been blocked by an ex or they’ve tried to reach out and beg and plead, and that’s gotten them nowhere. And they don’t know what to do. And they’re wondering, what in the world is this person thinking? And so I just kind of go through some basics of how it can play out.

It doesn’t happen in every situation, but that if you leave them alone and just let them see if they actually want this breakup or not, because a lot of people don’t ever give them that chance. They just keep hounding them and calling and crying and sending letters and showing up. And it’s never giving the person a chance to experience the breakup because often they realize they don’t like it as much as they thought they would.

Just like with divorce. I, a few years ago, had a friend who was really committed to this. It was an article he’d written, but it was a list of things that he wished he had known before he divorced his spouse, his wife. And I actually kind of had to. I was still with that other company, and for whatever reason, there was some pushback to using this content. And I really fought for it because I said, this is as real as it gets.

People need to see this. And so people kind of gave in and we ended up putting it on that website. But he talks about Christmas first, Christmas after the divorce, and what that was really like versus what he thought it would be like. He talked about trying to get back into, well, now he’s going to go about in the dating world, and he thought it was just going to be fun and it was going to be like an episode of Friends or something, and there was just going to be all this excitement and stuff like that.

It was nothing like that. And he talked about one night eating a microwave dinner, and he said, I think we had a brownie. And he said he stuck the fork in and put in his mouth. It was a hot spot and it burned his mouth and he dropped it, and he made a mess on the carpet, on his floor in his apartment, and he got up and he tripped over the coffee table and all these terrible things were happening. And he kind of thought to himself, “this is what I divorced my spouse for? This isn’t really what I thought it would be.”

But he goes into so many different things, even his relationship with his kids, how he thought that this is just between me and their mother. No, it was not that way at all. And he had no idea. I remember putting that article up there and thinking, people need to know these types of things and they need to know them with breakups as well, because a lot of times people will break up with someone and when the other person will just, they will object, they’ll say, I love you, I want to work on this.

I disagree with this, but if that’s what you want, I’ll give that to you. When that happens, a lot of times the other person gets to experience it a little bit and they miss the person they broke up with and they realize they had it a lot better than they thought they did. And of course, if you were in a terrible relationship where you two argued and fought all the time and were not good to each other, then they’re probably not going to think that.

But if you were in a good relationship and you think it was a good girlfriend, I was a good boyfriend, then you need to bet on yourself and say, okay, if you want to leave me, that’s what you want, and I’m going to respect that. If you bet on yourself in that way, that if they try this out, they might not like it nearly as much as they think.

So I thought that was important for people to know. And I put up some videos and the channel did really well. I moved quickly, especially based on a lot of channels that pop onto YouTube. It’s a difficult platform, especially right now. And so I was really fortunate and blessed that, especially some of those early videos, I’m embarrassed that they are there because the quality is not what it is now. Now that I have people who help me and I have good equipment and I know kind of the look we’re going for. But early on it was a cell phone.

Eventually it was a cell phone on a tripod. But when it started, it was a cell phone propped up with some books in selfie mode, recording myself. And that video has pushing 3 million views on that kind of a cheap setup.

So I just kind of thought I’d give it a try and thought I had some things that people might like to hear. And the catalyst, though, was actually an experience I had with a friend who came to me for some advice because his girlfriend had broken up with him. And he said, I know you primarily deal with marriages, but do you have any advice for me? And I said, what have you done so far?

He said, well, she won’t take my calls anymore, so I call and I intend on leaving her a voicemail, but I get so emotional that I can’t leave her a voicemail. And I just cry into her voicemail. He’s like, so that’s what I’m doing. What do you suggest I do? And I remember just saying, not that that was kind of the catalyst for me, saying, I need to put some videos up because people are in the dark.

Dr. Jill: Yeah, that’s a great idea. And you’ve had, obviously, some great ideas and some great execution and great outcome. And I am so glad that we had a chance to connect and get to hear from you. Coach Lee, thank you so much for being here.

Coach Lee: Terrific to be here. I really appreciate it. I’m glad you’re doing what you’re doing to help young moms and young dads. That’s where it’s at. That’s what people need. That’s the real work of helping the world.

Dr. Jill: Well, thank you. And thank you again for your insights.

Coach Lee: Very welcome. Thank you.

Visit Coach Lee’s website on breakups and relationshps.