As promised, I am going to give you guys the scoop on some of the activities we did while in couples therapy. Obviously, communication was a big part of our problem. Although we talked often, we weren’t communicating effectively. Man we received soooo many tools. This part of therapy was awesome. These are skills I will keep for the rest of my life. I dont remember the order of the activities of when we completed them, but they were all useful. Lets divulge.
- We had been together so long that things just became complacent. We were well into year 5. We were basically just doing the every day things to go through life. One of the first activities we did while looking at each other, we had to list reasons why we loved the other. I know I know. It sounds cliche. But you would be surprised how much time you can let pass by without telling your partner specific reasons why you love them. This was hard for me because I was in a state of Eff him Lol. But it can really soften your heart. When is the last time you said to your partner, “I love ___ about you.”
- We were challenged to be intentional about dating. Prior to this task, we were in the habit of hanging with friends, or just hanging at home. We barely left the house to hang out with each other. Maybe once every 3 weeks. We started being intentional with date night again. Thursday night movie nights were our thing for new releases. We started to have so much fun by including things like bowling to bike rides to jazz clubs. This is how we built the friendship again.
- We had to practice being intentional about our words. Sure its easy to say, I appreciate you. But it means so much more when you say I appreciate that you cooked dinner tonight. Thank you for ironing my clothes. Even just saying Im sorry. Sure its easy to say, Im sorry. But it means so much more when you say, Im sorry for yelling at you. Im sorry I wasnt listening. I apologize for not calling those people when I told you I would. Man this part is so humbling. Its so next level. You are forced to put your pride to the side.
- Speaking of apologies. Did you know that people receive apologies different ways? There are apology languages just like there are love languages. https://www.5lovelanguages.com/quizzes/apology-quiz/ Heres the website. My apology language is to accept responsibility. Yes and that was spot on for me. You have to admit that you were wrong for me to accept your apology. The other ones are 1. Requesting forgiveness 2. Genuinely repent 3. Expressing reget and 4. Make restitution.
- The Five Love Languages is always paramount. My love language is acts of service. I think my mom created this in me. My mom used to help me with everything. Even in adulthood, my mom would cook for me and help me pack. When people help me out, it means the world to me. Take that quiz also. https://www.5lovelanguages.com/quizzes/
- We were challenged to serve each other. Who can out give each other? This was so good. It changed my mindset into working with a partner. This isnt about gifts at all. Its about being a helper to your partner. We started to love doing things for one another. It didnt feel like one person was doing more than the other. It felt equal. It was small things like getting my charger when my phone was dying or me getting up to get him a bottle of water. This was such a raw expression of love.
- Lastly my all time favorite. The Four Horsemen from the Gottman Institute. Dr John Gottman is like the godfather to relationships. The Four Horsemen is an approach to identifying conflict in relationship. These are the 4 things you need to identify like right now in order for your relationship to survive. They are 1. Criticism 2. Contempt 3. Defensiveness 4. Stonewalling. The last one was big for me. It means shutting down and withdrawing. I did this all the time and it was causing a major tiff between us. I had to work through which was not easy. I had to allow my partner to call me out when I would resort to this behavior. That was difficult too. Here is the link. https://www.gottman.com/blog/category/column/the-four-horsemen/
I hope these tools have been helpful. Put them in your toolbox and pull them out when you need them! Comment below and tell me what you think.