Therapy, in general, is more than just sitting on a couch in an office and complaining about your troubles. Effective counseling, especially when it’s geared toward helping couples, requires a lot of time, hard work, and patience.
Upon completing an evaluation of your situation, your therapist will design a tailor-made treatment plan and recommend one or more additions to in-office counseling that will aid in the improvement of your relationship.
1. Required Reading
Whether you and your partner read together or separately, the book recommendations given to you by your therapist should not be ignored. Sure, you could probably find some of this reading material on your own, but those experienced in providing couples counseling are the best resource when trying to weed out the few good publications from a very long list of relationship self-help books.
For example, written works such as “The 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman and Dr. Gary Smalley’s “The DNA of Relationships” have been helping couples learn about how they show their love for one another and how to deal with situations that cause disharmony.
2. Fun & Games
As families expand and careers grow, a lot of married couples begin losing sight of the fun they once had and this can lead to a shift in their connection and, therefore, their communication. However, taking advantage of even the smallest amounts of time goes a long way to keeping the lines of communication open.
Any game that promotes communication can be very useful in a couple’s attempts to stay connected. Some of these games, like “Would You Rather?” are easily carried out over long periods of time via text messaging, giving couples the opportunity to respond when they can. Other options include sexy board games and “The Game of Truth”, both of which require honesty and the sharing of intimate details with one another.
3. Role Playing
Two types of role-playing have been identified as very useful in helping couples reconnect and work through marital issues. Experts agree that role-playing aids both partners in reaching a deeper level of intimacy and by providing a safe outlet to explore their relationship. These exercises help couples express what they really want from each other.
Role-playing in the bedroom is known to awaken couple’s creativity in a manner that makes them feel less inhibited and more willing to try new things. It can also help divert from the routine sex that frequently occurs in long-term relationships. Another type of role play instructs couples to act out a real event as each other. Role reversal activities such as this allow spouses to identify how they perceive each other’s tone, body language, and action in a situation so they can learn how to make adjustments in the way they communicate.
4. Bonding Activities
Not all shared activities promote bonding in a relationship. Going to a dark movie theater where talking is discouraged will not help you learn anything about your significant other. On the other hand, watching a film in the privacy of your own home will allow both partners to react openly and honestly about what they are seeing.
Activities such as music sharing and book swapping give couples insight into each other and often reveal details they would have never learned otherwise. Some therapists will suggest “Soul Gazing” or “The 7 Breath Forehead Connection Exercise” because these uninterrupted periods of time can have a huge effect on deepening their connection while also allowing them to slow down and refocus on each other.
5. Conflict Management
Unlike conflict resolution, conflict management focuses on modifying the dysfunctional behavior that causes marital issues. This method teaches couples to focus on solutions instead of the problems of which they are suffering.
The Gottman Method of couples counseling teaches clients how to build a love map in order to help them learn about their partner and reinforce their trust in, and commitment to, one another. During these exercises, you will gain useful insight into how your spouse perceives the world around him including his worries, joys, and hopes.
The tricks and tools assigned to couples by their counselor are wholly geared toward strengthening the bond and helping them return to the place where they both knew love so be sure to try them at least once. You never know if something will shift the mood of your relationship until you try it.