10 Relationship Help at Home Couples Therapy Exercises
by Dawn Billings, founder of RelationshipHelp.com
If you feel like your relationship has stalled and you want to give it a kick start here are 10 Relationship-Help-at-Home couples therapy exercises.
1 – Establish a Special Date Night At Least Every Other Week
Who doesn’t remember how fun it was to date? Date nights are great for couples of all ages, and give you a chance to simply enjoy each other. Date nights get you out of the house and allow you to reconnect without all of the “must do’s” that can get in the way of romance. Make the night special and just about you as a couple. If you choose to have a special date night every other week it is a great time to get creative. You plan one of the date nights, and allow your partner to plan the other. Do all you can to make sure your partner feels special and loved so that you have a chance to reinforce and fortify the strength of your relationship. Date nights don't have to be expensive. Be creative. Wine at sunset costs very little. Writing a love poem and sharing it over a hamburger can be very romantic. Don't allow limited finances to limit the many creative ways you can show your love for your partner.
2 – Dream Together, Bond Together
Dreaming makes us happy, so why not dream together? This is a vital communicate level for connected couples. It is important that you feel that your partner understands your dreams and that they understand yours. People with more analytical minds call dreams goals. Great. What are your goals. What do you want to accomplish or create by next year, five years from now, in ten years, etc. Couples who share their dreams not only tighten their bond for the present but weave the fabric of their future together. People are motivated by their dreams of the future. Dreams or goals give us a path, a plan, a direction that leads us forward. Dreams remind us of where we want to end up and what we want to accomplish along the way. Check in every couple of months to see if you are on track to make your dreams together a reality.
3 – Add New Experiences to Your Relationship
One of the best ways to bond with your significant other is to add new experiences together. Let’s face it. It is easy to get into a rut. Visit a museum in town, walk a beautiful lake at sunset, or plan a cruise to one of your dream locations. Create a list of fun activities to try as a couple. Make an effort to do at least one thing from your list every month. You can add new experiences for family activities as well, but make sure you pay special attention to the list just for you and your spouse. Spending time together in a new, interesting and unfamiliar environment can help you connect in fun and exciting ways.
4 – Don’t Take Your Arguments To Bed
You’ve probably heard the phrase “don’t go to bed angry.” I can tell you that is easier said than done. Just because this concept is simplexes not make it easy. Whether physical, spiritual or emotional, all exercise is about making a person stronger. These Relationship-Help-at-Home relationship strengthening exercises have the same end in mind. When you take your arguments to bed you dwell on the upsetting matter throughout the night. The only thing that strengthens is your desire to find relief from your partner. If you find that you are taking your arguments to bed, contact your couples counselor and schedule an appointment as soon as possible, or find a wonderful comprehensive ONLINE relationship help program to do together. The longer allow an issue to fester, the more bitter you will both become about it. Find answers you need in order to fix your problems in ways that make you feel stronger together.
5 – Have A "Feelings Forum" At Least Every Other Week
Honesty is a great goal in life, but often people get confused about what honesty really means. Honesty is NOT letting your partner have it with both barrels and it is NOT biting your tongue because you don’t want to upset your partner. That’s why I recommend having a “feelings forum”. Every other week, (or at least once a month), set aside a full hour where you and your partner share your feelings about things that bother you. It is important that you learn to do this judgment-free. Remember, you may feel unhappy, but your partner is not responsible for your unhappiness. The rules are simple. Feelings are NOT facts. You allow one another to speak what you are feeling, realizing that feelings are not facts. Feelings are real to you, but their most important value is that they are a source of information. I give all of my clients a dream heart. This is a lovely plush velvet heart. You can ask your partner to hold it as you share how you are feeling. This reminds them that as they listen they are holding your heart in their hand. Their job is to simply repeat back to you how you are feeling with no judgment, just listening. This gives each of you a chance to speak what you are feeling and truly feel heard. If you do not feel comfortable doing this on your own at first, you could practice with your couples counselor. They can help you learn to better listen.
6 – Have an Appreciation Ceremony
Have an appreciation ceremony once a week. This is super simple and fast but boy does it make a difference. Spend some time writing down the things you appreciate about your spouse. Buy a special candle that each week you light and hold as you express the things you are grateful for that week. Then your partner takes the candle and shares what they appreciate about you as well. By clearly expressing what you appreciate about your spouse, you can help them understand how you value and appreciate them.
Write down the various things you appreciate about your spouse on strips of paper, and put them in a special box. When you are feeling down or insecure, you can take out one of the strips and remind yourself that of some of the positives in your relationship. Short notes back and forth will keep the connection between you and your partner strong and remind you of why you fell in love and the benefits of being in love.
7 – Spend Intimate Time Together As Often As Possible
Intimacy is imperative to a thriving, healthy relationship. Intimacy is about more than just sex. It’s about connecting with the person you love in a way that they feel loved. It's about listening, really listening to your partner. Every night before you go to sleep, spend some time talking to your spouse in bed – without the TV on, without your cell phone in hand, and without any other distractions that could take you away from this moment. Cuddle, hold each other’s hands, or look into each other’s eyes and take a moment to appreciate the amazing person you’ve chosen to be with. It’s these quiet moments that keep long-lasting relationships going for decades at a time. But make sure that you are not defensively listening for any possible complaint or criticism as that will completely ruin the intimate connection.
8 – Unplug Yourselves
It’s amazing how much of a distraction electronics can be, especially in today’s world. As part of your Relationship-Help-at-home couples therapy techniques, try spending time together completely unplugged. No phones, no televisions, no computers, no ear buds, and no tablets. Just you and your spouse spending quality time together. Play board games, take a stroll, give each other a massage, take a relaxing bath together or anything that does not require electronics. This will allow both of you to focus 100% of your energy on the other person, and it will ultimately keep your relationship plugged in.
9 – Will it Matter at Christmas?
The “will it matter at Christmas” technique came about because my mother was diagnosed with Leukemia and we were not sure she would be alive the next Christmas. When the siblings began to argue because tensions were high and everyone was frightened and stressed, she would calmly say, “Will it matter at Christmas?” It was an excellent way to determine which conflicts truly mattered and which ones were trivial and unnecessary. My mother passed on November 13 of that year. Any time you have an argument that you can’t seem to come to terms about, take a time out, or even a day to reflect on the conflicts actually importance. If you feel like it is important enough that it would still matter at Christmas you can re-open the conversation and move forward. In most cases though, you will realize that what you were arguing about wasn’t really that important. You’ll learn how to prioritize your arguments and pick your important battles to give your attention to.
10 – Learn What Causes Stress and Misery in Your Life
Let’s face it. Stress is real and has both physical and emotional consequences. In a relationship, stress often leads to major conflicts because one person feels irritable, emotional, anxious, depressed, etc. According to Primary Colors Relationship Personality Tests and Insight Tools, all stress, misery, anger and irritability happens when a person moves from their centered color personality tendencies (what is best about them) into their extreme color personality tendencies (what is worst about them). It is extremely helpful to learn what your extreme color personality tendencies look like and how they negatively impact both your personal and professional relationships. It is only when you identify the stress in your life and your spouse’s life and then understand one another’s extreme color personality tendencies that you can figure out ways to avoid conflict that tears your relationship apart.
Health concerns can often be a huge stressor and trigger. If you are worried about your personal health, consider having a thermal scan, hair analysis or talk to a doctor. Do something proactive. Ruminating about a "scary possibility" will not only make you feel out of sorts but it will certainly negatively impact your partner as well.
Personality and relationship expert Dawn Billings is the author and architect of Primary Colors Relationship Personality Tests and RelationshipHelp.com training. Dawn is the author of hundreds of articles and executive director of the Relationship Help Resort in Arizona where she leads private couple's retreats and intensives to strengthen, empower and heal relationships.