It’s one of life’s journeys. A speech therapist has become a marriage coach, and the Milwaukee native is now helping marriages everywhere.
Rivke Gardner, born and raised in the Milwaukee Twerski community, is a marriage coach focused on working with women to help create transformation in their marriage.
In 2018, Gardner started her journey as a marriage coach. She had previously been a teacher in Milwaukee, and later was a speech therapist for young children in Cleveland, Ohio. She realized that coaching could be both a business and a passion. Gardner trained under Dina Friedman, a prolific life coach, to develop her own framework of how to help women struggling in their marriage.
“I felt like there was something bigger … that I wanted to get out there into the world; so I started my training towards coaching,” Gardner said.
In September 2019, Gardner, as a Jewish Orthodox woman, started working full time on her coaching business. Gardner now lives in Cleveland. Gardner’s website is at RivkeGardner.com.
In her work, Gardner asks the women she coaches to be open minded, to create a dialogue. She hopes to change their perspectives on their marriages, as needed. Gardner asks questions like, “If you had one extra hour of free time a day, what would you choose to do with that time? What about six hours of free time?”, which allows her clients to look inwards, at their own needs and wants.
“We really have no power or control over another person; we can try to force control, but it’s not really in your hands,” Rivke said. “This method we work through is really empowering for women. Here I am saying to them, guess what? You can actually come to peace, harmony, serenity inside yourself and in your marriage and you can have a lot more of what you want in your marriage. You can do it.”
Gardner provides a number of opportunities for married women to work with her. She offers one-on-one counseling, group programs for women who want to work with a community of similar, like-minded people, and classes. Her private sessions tend to be about 12 weeks. After the 12 weeks are completed and Gardner feels her clients are ready, they graduate from her one-on-one sessions. They are then able to join a group program if they’d like. Gardner also has a mentorship program where she trains therapists and coaches about her work.
Though her clients are everywhere, she recently came back home to lead the Twerski community’s Congregation Beth Jehudah in an evening retreat.
Gardner works with women ages 20 to 70. They’re generally Jewish women who have been married 10 to 25 years and tend to come from all over the marriage spectrum, from women looking for growth in their marriage to women who feel distressed.
“There is so much hope and there is so much possibility for change.” Gardner said. “People do not have to feel stuck in the place they do not want to be. I have women all the time who move from a place of exhaustion, loneliness and burden, to a place of really feeling taken care of, close and connected.”