Relationships need effort from both sides to make it work. Even the most trusting and loving couples have their highs and lows. And they can tell you how ironing out the smallest of issues can make it an easy journey. Which is where couples therapy exercises come into play. They are a great way to keep a check on your relationship.
Most people opt for couples therapy only after they realise that their marriage is on the brink of a breakup. However, just like any well-oiled machine, timely attention and maintenance will not only keep the machine running for a longer period but smoothly too. Think of couples therapy as servicing for your relationship to iron out the niggles.
So if you are looking at actively improve your relationship, a great place to start is with it couples therapy exercises for communication.
These exercises are easy to accomplish with basic effort but will help you learn more about your partner and your relationship. Here are seven couples therapy exercises for communication that you should try at home.
1. Write A Letter
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Emails have made the good old fashioned letters obsolete. But it turns out they are great when you want to say something in a relationship.
Studies also suggest using handwritten letters frequently for couples in conflict. It’s essentially a love letter focussing on the positive and early aspects of your relationship.
This could include your favourite moments with each, why you were attracted to your partner, treasured memories, and more. The letter then needs to transition towards the growth areas in your relationship. You can then silently read the letter to your partner and vice versa.
Experts believe writing down your concerns helps you gain clarity on things. Not only will the couple realise why they are attracted to each other but also the point where things went off rails. There’s also room for correction.
2. Hold Weekly Meetings
This may sound like an extension of something you do in the office but many experts believe it works for relationships too. Set up a weekly check-in meeting to see how you both are feeling in the relationship.
This can be a larger concern for those couples who do not get to spend too much time together. At times, you also drift apart in a relationship and need to make effort to connect again.
These weekly meetings will allow you to block dedicated time with your partner to discuss problems, offer clarifications and resolve conflicts that may be lingering in your lives and silently pulling you apart. Either person should share how they feel without being interrupted.
3. Work On Emotional Validations
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Experts suggest creating an emotions wheel to connect with your partner on an emotional basis. Each partner needs to choose three emotions and share what they experienced through the day.
After each partner has spoken, the couple needs to reflect on what they’ve heard about their partner.
This could be about something happening in the office or maybe an argument from earlier in the day. The idea is to share and reflect, and not to correct or defend.
The goal is to emotionally validate your partner and to make sure that they feel so. This requires active listening and will help you build better communication and intimacy as a couple. It’s also a continuous process and will help you to support your partner in a better way.
4. Appreciate Them Everyday
If seeking emotional validation every day may seem a bit overwhelming, you start small and work on affirming your partner’s contribution to the relationship. This includes taking time out at the end of each day to tell your partner about three things you like about them. These could be small things that may seem inconsequential but go ahead and say it.
For instance, you could say things like, ”I appreciate how you take care of our kids,” to which you can reply, “I appreciate how you handle the house chores every morning.”
Make sure to mention what you are appreciative about, which works as a positive reinforcement in a relationship and allows you to align better with your partner’s thoughts.
5. Plan A Date Night Regularly
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Romance is the basis of a relationship and in the mundaneness of everyday life. However, the mundaneness of everyday life may lead to it being dropped off the list over the years.
It’s never too late to bring a splash of romance back into your life with your partner. So go out plan a date with your spouse once again. Try watching a romantic movie together or go out for dinner without the kids for company.
Turns out watching a show or a movie together is as beneficial as those couples in professional therapy. It gives you something to connect upon and helps build communication. Couples gain more confidence to speak to each other, eventually opening up about their own issues and more complicated problems.
6. Remember Your Wins
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Sometimes you may feel like your relationship has reached an impasse. It’s in moments like these that you need to remind yourselves why you love your partner. As an exercise, write down all the moments in your life that you could overcome in your relationship. This includes examples of conflicts and roadblocks from over the years.
A collection of handwritten notes is a powerful reminder about the strength of your relationship and how your partnership helped you overcome different challenges.
Not just that, it will also work as a catalyst to renew enough intimacy in your relationship to work things out. And that’s the whole point of couples therapy exercises for communication.
7. Create A Wishlist
Relationships are all about building lots of little moments together in life. That’s why as much as you’d like to think about the journey so far, it’s also important to plan where it’s going. Relationship coach Nicole Elam suggests creating a wishlist with your partner. Write about feelings you wish came true in your relationship.
Creating a wishlist is a great exercise to understand if the couple wants the same things in life. Relationships always room to grow and evolve, which can only be achieved through communication. Creating a wishlist together will require you to mutually agree on the same things, and that requires communication.