Strengthen Your Bond with This Simple Couples Exercise
As a couples counsellor, I know for a fact that we can't just focus on problems and struggles. People come in for sessions and they need help because they are stuck, they are fighting, they are miserable. They want to jump in and share right away everything they've been thinking about - and it's not good. They are often surprised when I tell them that it's not where we start.
We start with what's good. What's working. What is it that they appreciate, like or love about their partner - big things and small. What do they appreciate about their relationship? When things are good, how does it make them feel? If we start with what's wrong - it takes us down the rabbit hole. After a while we might start wondering why they are even together. But it's only because that's not the whole picture.
Of course they fight - all couples are going to have thing they disagree about. All people are going to get triggered. All of us are going to lose it at some point. That's ok.
We just need to make sure we see the good. The goodness in us, in our partners, in our relationships.
And we've got to be able to share it. The goodness needs to be shared. The wonderfulness. The awesomeness. We share our grievances - but we often don't share the greatness.
How do we turn this around? The easiest way I know how - Appreciation project.
I like me a challenge :) So what I've done in the past - Appreciation challenge. I've done it for a week at a time, and a couple of times I've done an Appreciation Month. The way it looks like - once a day you share with your partner something you love/like/or appreciate about them. Tell them in person, call, text, write a note, post on FB, be creative. After a week, and especially a month - you rewire your brain to focus on what's good. The brain starts to like it. It becomes easier and easier. You automatically start looking for what's good and can't wait to share it. Your partner doesn't have to know what you are doing, but I can promise you it'll make a difference.
Languages of Appreciation challenge.
Take 5 love languages (there are more than 5) as a base and show appreciation for your partner through:
acts of service
giving them a gift of space
gift of beauty
The Appreciation Jar.
Set aside a few minutes each day to reflect on the positive aspects of your partner and your relationship. This project is fun to do together. Think about what you appreciate, admire, or love about one another. Write your appreciations on the pieces of paper or sticky notes. Be specific and heartfelt in your words. "I love your sense of humour and I love that we laugh together". "You are such a great dad, it makes my heart melt to see how you are with the kids". Fold the paper or sticky note and place it in the jar.
Over time, you'll accumulate a collection of affirmations and appreciations.
Whenever you're feeling disconnected or in need of a reminder of your partner's positive qualities, take a moment to open the jar and read the notes together. Sharing these appreciations can rekindle feelings of love and gratitude.
The Appreciation Jar serves as a tangible reminder of the love and admiration you have for each other, helping you focus on the positives even during challenging times. It's a small yet powerful way to nurture your relationship daily.
Same idea as with the Appreciation Jar, but you create a board and put your sticky notes where you can easily see them. A fridge? A place in the bedroom or a hallway?
It'll bring a smile to you on a day when you need it. Keep adding to it. A variation of it - write a message of appreciation or admiration on a sticky note and put it where your partner will see it - mirror, fridge, toaster, inside of their wallet, or on their phone/laptop. It'll brighten their day.
Start a new journal or just start a new note on your phone where you will write down things that you are grateful for for your partner. Something they did, how they are, special experiences you had, how they make you feel, something they did for you, something they did that made you proud of them. Keep adding to it. You don't even have to share it - although I think you should, but just the act of writing this will help in one of those tough moments.
And that's the secret - we want to make sure that we have more good moments, than "bad", that we know how to repair and how to reconnect, that your partner knows that you are not taking them for granted, that you see them and what they do - that you see the goodness in them, that they are appreciated and loved. Cherished. Adored. Admired. Valued. That you don't just see what they did wrong (something we are quick to point out), that we see what they did right - and not just equally eager to share, but we do that a lot more.
Give it a try. It can transform your relationship into one filled with love, gratitude, and appreciation.
Ask for help
If you are struggling in your relationship, I am a Couples Counsellor and Sex Therapist in Calgary, AB. I work online with people around the world. I'm very passionate about my work and will be happy to support you. Feel free to schedule your free consultation here.