The “Separate but Intimate” Journaling Technique
Working separately, each partner writes about an event, interaction, or observation that happened to them as an individual. This can be a major life event, or a small aspect of the partner’s daily routine which is significant to them. Each partner writes a description of the event, and why the event is significant to them.
After each partner has finished writing, partners switch journals and read each other’s entry. Each partner then answers the following three questions.
1. Why do you think your partner has chosen to write about this event?
2. What significance does the event described have for you as a partner in this relationship, and why?
3. Has the event chosen by your partner taught you anything about your partner or your relationship?
What Kind of Couple Are We?
Ask the couple to agree who will be “partner 1” and who will be “partner A” For each of the following seven questions, the couple answers whether the answer is Partner 1, Partner A, or about the same. The seven questions are:
- Whose name comes first when friends refer to you as a couple?
- Who spends more time alone or doing fun things with friends?
- Whose career is the most important?
- Who decides how you spend money?
- Whose style is reflected in the design of your home?
- Who do the children see as being in charge?
- Who takes care of the household chores?
Next, the couple reviews their answers and decides:
1. Is there a pattern in your answers?
2. Does one partner exert greater influence in the relationship?
3. Does one partner handle most of the responsibilities in the relationship?
4. Does one partner have more freedom?
5. How do you feel about these patterns? Does a change need to be made?
The Speaker-Listener Technique
Rules for both partners:
1. The Speaker has the floor.
2. You need to share the floor.
3. No problem-solving.
Rules for the Speaker:
1. Don’t mind read. Talk about your feelings and needs, not what you think your partner feels.
2. Don’t go on and on. Break what you need to say into manageable pieces so you both have time to talk.
3. Stop occasionally and let the Listener paraphrase.
Rules for the Listener:
1. Paraphrase what the Speaker says to show you are listening.
2. Do not rebut or offer your opinion during the Speaker’s time to talk.
The Address with Respect Technique
1. Discuss the problem using ABC statements. An ABC statement consists of three parts- a specific incident, the time of the incident, and how you felt.
2. Set an Agenda to discuss the problem. Schedule a specific date and time to discuss the problem, and agree on what aspect of the problem you will discuss.
3. Brainstorm using the five rules:
a. any idea is ok to suggest.
b. one of you should write the ideas down as you brainstorm,
c. don’t evaluate the ideas verbally or nonverbally during the brainstorming process, which includes making faces,
d. be creative! Suggest whatever comes to mind, and
e. have fun with it! Having a sense of humor about the brainstorming session can go a long way.
4. Agreement and Compromise. Decide on a specific solution, or a list of solutions, that you can both agree to try.
5. Follow up on your discussion by scheduling regular couples meetings to discuss your progress.
Five Ground Rules for a Great Relationship
1. When conflict is escalating, agree to take a Time-Out. Don’t try to talk right away. Spend some time individually doing something calming. Agree to meet later.
2. Agree to use the Speaker-Listener technique to address the cause of the conflict.
3. Separate Problem Discussion and Problem Solution into two separate steps. After you have both had a chance to discuss the problem, you might indicate being ready to switch to problem solution by saying ‘I’m feeling like we had a good talk and got a lot out in the open. Now I think it would be great to work on some solutions’.
4. The Listener can always say “this is not a good time”. If you are not capable of giving your partner your complete attention, say so. Agree on a later time to talk.
5. Hold weekly couple meetings to discuss problems that crop up during the week.
The Fun Deck
1. Brainstorm a list of fun things you could do together. Be creative!
2. Write your ideas out on a set of index cards. Keep them in a safe, accessible place.
3. Set aside a regular time to have fun together.
4. During your couple time, each partner chooses three things from the Fun Deck that they would like to do during this time. Show your partner what you have picked.
5. Each partner agrees to make one of their partner’s three choices happen during the time you have set aside.
6. An alternate use of the Fun Deck is to draw randomly from the deck for a quick fun idea.
1. Write down what your expectations of each other and your relationship are. Don’t worry about them being silly, realistic, or an accurate reflection of what you marriage is like. Some topics to consider a household tasks, holidays, and child care. Spend plenty of individual time working on your list.
2. Once you have completed your lists, think about hidden issues such as caring and recognition. Write down ways these are influenced by, or how these hidden issues influence your expectations.
3. Look at each of your expectations. Indicate how reasonable each is by rating from 1-10, with 1 being the least reasonable expectations.
4. Place a check mark next to the expectations you feel you have never fully discussed with your partner.
Framing a Forgiveness Discussion
1. Set a couples meeting to discuss issues related to forgiveness.
2. Use the Speaker-Listener technique to explore your pain and concerns related to the issue. Move on to the next steps only when you are ready.
3. The offender asks for forgiveness.
4. The offender agrees to forgive.
5. The offender makes a positive commitment to change his or his behavior. Clearly, the change needed will vary according to the severity of the issue.