Enhances Communication

With couples who enter marriage therapy complaining of communication problems, I sometimes offer them communication skill-building exercises as a way for them to talk more openly with each other.  One such exercise follows, courtesy of Jennifer Louden in “The Couples Comfort Book” (Harpers SanFrancisco):

  • When I think of nurturing the relationship, I think of…
  • When I think of intimacy, I think of …
  • When I think of tenderness, I think of …
  • When I think of commitment, I think of …
  • When I think of sacrifice, I think of …
  • I feel loved and nurtured when you …
  • You could help me talk about my feelings more by …
  • If I were able to be more open about my feelings …
  • If I were to be more open about your feelings …
  • I’ve noticed recently about myself …
  • I am a person who needs …
  • To nurture and take care of myself more, I need to …
  • When I take time just for me, I feel …
  • When I take time just for me, I think you feel …
  • One of the things I admire about you is …
  • One of the things you taught me is …
  • One of the things you’re really good at is …
  • If I could change one thing about our relationship, it would be …
  • If you really loved me, you would …
  • One of your strengths that balances me is …
  • When I was growing up, I learned that sex was …
  • One of my fondest sexual memories with you is …
  • To feel “in the mood” I need …
  • If you could do one thing different next time we make love, I would like you to …
  • One of the ways I block love is to …
  • One of my fondest memories of you is …
  • One of my fondest memories of us is …
  • The most important decisions we need to make together are …
  • The most important issues or conflict we need to resolve of get better at are …
  • I would really like it if you would …

Be sure you are face-to-face, have eye contact and make sure there are no distractions such as TV or children.   Let each person answer each question thoroughly, which means there will be multiple answers to each question.  No interrupting or defensive reactions.