The Scoop: Relationship counselor and dating coach Nancy Pina began her career as a matchmaker, and she noticed that some clients were often more interested in appearances than developing long-term relationships. That motivated Nancy to narrow her focus to helping commitment-minded Christians meet like-minded people. With that goal in mind, she earned her degree in Christian counseling and started her own practice. Today, Nancy teaches singles how to find compatible partners and empowers struggling married couples to reaffirm their dedication to one another and their shared faith.
As a relationship counselor and dating coach, Nancy Pina knows that many singles have a list of expectations when looking for a partner. They often desire someone who is attractive, gainfully employed, and has a nice home and car, among other things.
Despite those lists of expectations, Nancy has noticed that many singles often overlook a critical aspect: a shared belief system.
“People should place this as a priority along with those other things,” she told us. “It should be above any materialistic requirement because a relationship without belief leads to divorce or living an unfulfilled life.”
Nancy has a wealth of experience in what can make people dissatisfied with their love lives. Before becoming a counselor and coach, she worked at a matchmaking firm, where she saw that many clients wanted to find someone to marry, but few were successful because they seemed to only desire good-looking dates (paying little mind to the qualities that go into a truly compatible pairing).
In response, Nancy went back to school to earn her degree in Christian counseling so she could focus on working with singles and couples to help solidify faith in their relationships. In her practice, she offers everything from premarital counseling to coaching for couples on the brink of divorce.
Spiritually-Based Advice Addresses Long-Standing Issues to Build Better Unions
As a Christian counselor, Nancy’s practical advice to her clients is honest and communicated compassionately in a no-nonsense style. Nancy believes relationship challenges are not limited to the most intimate relationships. Those same struggles can be seen in all relationships, from acquaintances to work connections and family. She believes that focusing on building a strong spiritual foundation improves and provides healing for those various relationships.
“I don’t tell people what they want to hear,” she said. “I tell them what’s happening and predict what will happen if they don’t change.”
Many of the married couples with whom Nancy counsels have developed bitterness toward one another, which, in turn, creates an emotionally toxic, tense environment in their homes. Often they are in denial about the impact their animosity has on their children and others in the home. “Sadly, they are so blinded by their personal turmoil that the suffering extends to the whole family,” she said.
Some of these couples may not have the communication or interpersonal skills to identify what’s not working in their relationships, and that’s another area in which Nancy steps in to help.
Nancy shares an example of her counseling in action. She advised one of her clients to date a different type of man than the type the woman usually liked. At a church social, the woman met two types of men — one the typical gregarious person she often liked while the other was shy and reserved.
“She thought, ‘I know Nancy would tell me to go for the other guy,’” Nancy said.
The client did, and now she and the shy man are married. Without Nancy’s advice to change her habits, she may never have noticed her future husband.
“It’s exciting to see people go from agonizing and desperate situations to fulfillment in a marriage,” said Nancy.
Helping Singles Date Beyond Just Their “Types”
Throughout her career, Nancy said she has noticed that many singles continue to date the same type of person. While this can sometimes be an effective strategy, commitment to a particular type can cause daters to overlook more compatible partners.
Specifically, singles repeat the same negative habits or patterns they’ve encountered in previous relationships. So, they often continue to gravitate toward the same types of people and find the same issues, no matter how many relationships they start and end. Those people may think the problem lies with their previous partner, rather than within themselves.
“There’s no guarantee the next person will be more compatible if you haven’t worked through grievances in the relationship. The same problems will just show up in the next one,” Nancy said.
But even when singles expand their dating pool and become better equipped at selecting more appropriate, commitment-minded people to date, the results may not lead to long-term satisfaction. The reason, Nancy says, is the lack of focus on building a mature spiritual life.
“Even though people could work through challenges they’d had in previous relationships, there was still that faith component that needed to be addressed,” she said.
She suggests that one reason singles encounter issues is that they spend too little energy focusing on a shared faith with another person.
“People feel like they are more open-minded if they’re open to relationships with people of many religions,” Nancy said. “But when they get married, they find this a big point of contention.”
Singles can find more compatible partners by focusing on their religious beliefs from the beginning, rather than downplaying them. In Nancy’s experience, many couples have developed stronger partnerships because they emphasize their faith.
“Strengthening one’s core foundation of faith helps singles find lasting, fulfilling love,” she said.
Nancy Focuses on Sincere Connections, Not Material Success
Many singles can find themselves discouraged with dating. They think they’ve done everything they can to find a compatible partner, but they still come up short.
“They’re educated, they have a social life and a good job, and, by a world standard, they feel like they should be happy,” Nancy said.
When Nancy encounters clients like these, she tries to change their mindset. If someone wants a relationship, they must prepare to make it happen, she said. After all, highly successful people put in hard work to achieve goals outside of relationships, including their careers.
“The person who you marry is the most important decision you’ll ever make.” — Nancy Pina, Relationship Counselor & Dating Coach
“You have to apply yourself to get to the end result in your professional life,” she told us. “It’s the same thing with relationships.”
Nancy believes many people end up choosing a relationship that looks good on the surface: similar education, career goals, shared activities, and lifestyle preferences. The focus primarily should be on a person’s morals, values, and conduct. It is the intangibles, such as trustworthiness, respectability, maturity in faith, and right life priorities, that are not superficial in nature which leads to long-term satisfaction and joy in a committed relationship.
Instead, Nancy suggests focusing on meeting people who hold the same beliefs and have the same dreams for the future.
“The person who you marry is the most important decision you’ll ever make,” she told us.