Relationships require work and good communication. I have interviewed three relationship experts on their favorite methods used for couples therapy and their favorite workbooks. I hope these techniques will help you with your happily ever after.
Couple Therapy Exercise Number 1
By Swati Jagetia – Relationship Expert
One of my favorite exercises I use with the couples who work with me is the creation of a weekly status meeting.
This is a once a week, a scheduled time where the couple reviews:
- Logistics for the next week (or onward as necessary).
- Couple/Family projects and who is responsible for what.
- Relationship check-in (how are each of us feeling in the relationship, are our love languages being honored, did anything happen in the last week we might want to review or work out, any requests of our partner ongoing?)
A lot of what couples fight about is logistics, so handling these in a clear and concise way can mitigate confusion, and unnecessarily bickering. Also, knowing we have time to discuss something we struggled with can let us hold on a difficult conversation so we can have it at an opportune time (vs. when one or both of you are running out of the home for the office).
Couple Therapy Exercise Number 2
By Dave Wolovsky – Positive Psychology-Based Coach
Daves exercise is based on Imago. Imago is a theory and practice of conflict and growth in the relationship. The theory is that we choose partners who have a blend of positive and negative traits of both of our parents (or caretakers) and that the reason we choose them is that we are trying to finish childhood, meaning to heal our deep emotional wounds.
It sees the intimate partner as the healer, and the method of mutual healing is the dialogue, which is a way of deliberate speaking and listening that helps both partners slow down and understand each other better, so they can be more effective healers for each other.
One of my favorite exercises or general techniques is to explain current emotional pain by relating them to childhood experiences. This is the format:
I feel ____ when you do ____ because in childhood, my caretakers did ____, and that made me feel ____ and decide/do ____ in response.
Couple Therapy Exercise Number 3
By Sol Rapoport Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Asking the Miracle Question
This involves asking each of the partners to answer the following prompt:
“Suppose tonight, while you slept, a miracle occurred. When you awake
tomorrow, what would be some of the things you would notice that would tell you life had suddenly gotten better?”
This exercise is helpful in identifying what specifically each partner would like to target, and how they would know what their relationship had improved.
Couple Therapy Exercise Number 4
Making I statements
The goal with these is to foster good communication between partners that focuses on taking responsibility for needs instead of passing the blame to the other person.
A good example would be “I feel abandoned and worried when you consistently come home late without calling” instead of saying, “Why
are you never home on time?”
Couple Therapy Exercise Number 5
Couples often don’t know how to make amends to each other and apologize effectively, which fuels poor communication patterns. So sometimes we review how to apologize effectively to one another.
Whether you have hurt your partner willingly or unwillingly, it’s important to start by taking responsibility for your actions or words. Demonstrate that you recognize your responsibility by using the word “I” (“I messed up…” or “I am at fault…”).
Acknowledge who has been hurt, as well as the nature of the transgression itself.
2. Give an explanation for the offense:
Explain both that you never meant to hurt the other person, and that it won’t happen in the future.
3. Express your remorse:
Naturally, we feel regret and remorse amongst other feelings when we hurt another person. Expressing the emotions that you feel – such as sadness, shame, embarrassment, etc– can help your partner understand your recognition of the mistake.
For example, “I feel really bad about what happened. For days I have felt embarrassed about how I let you down…
4. Make amends:
Follow up your verbal acknowledgment and apology with actions that aim to fix the damage caused. Talk to your partner and see what they might consider a good reparation for the damage to your relationship.
I hope you found these couple therapy exercises helpful. You can put them all in a nice relationship workbook. Which one helped you the most?
Wishing you a happy ever after,