Human relationships have always been complex. You go to any corner of the world and you will find people talking about love and relationships. However, what we rarely find are couples reaching out, asking for help in order to solve their problems. Lack of communication often spells the death of relationships. Ever tried Couples Therapy sessions formulated for your sitting room couch?
In a country like India, where talking to a therapist about your problems is taboo, doing so as a couple is almost unheard of.
Ironically, when you go to get a divorce, it’s the first thing a couple is ordered to do – talk to a couple’s therapist – a court-appointed one, to make things official. Not to trivialise the trials and tribulations of a divorce, if we had a culture which didn’t attach the stigma to Couples Therapy we might see more healthy relationships around us. For common relationship problems, Couples Therapy can always help.
Lucky for us, couples therapists have upped their game over the years and have come up with exercises and activities you can perform in the privacy of your own home.
They don’t even have to be present to supervise. Here are a few of them. These are called relationship therapy exercises. This Couples Therapy when tried at home helps in building up communication that is the biggest issue among couples these days.
How to do Couples Therapy at home…
Follow these steps and you can have an emotionally focused Couples Therapy which would be enjoyable and at times you will be surprised, it could be a revelation too.
Just follow these steps.
Listen for 5 minutes every day
This exercise consists of two activities happening simultaneously. All you’ll need is a timer (which is mostly on your smartphone) and each other. Sit with your partner in a room, uninterrupted. Put the dog out, tell the children to go play in another room (if you don’t want to leave them unsupervised, do this after they’ve gone to bed.) Sit opposite each other and set a timer for 5 minutes. Keep the phone aside and take turns talking to each other, one at a time. Neither can speak while the other is talking. The listening partner’s job is to listen with full concentration. That’s it.
You can talk about anything but avoid criticism and digging up old fights. Talking about work, or your day. The other person doesn’t get to respond in words.
This greatly helps in building emotional bonding and communication. It’s simple and takes only 10 minutes a day.
Make a pros list every day
This may seem obvious, but saying or writing down the things you like about your partner helps the liking grow and is great therapy for relationships. If you can allocate a separate notebook for this and for thirty days, write down 10 things you like about your partner every day. This is individual therapy for relationship issues. These can be simple things like ‘The socks he was wearing today’ or ‘the way she kisses’ or ‘his abs’ or anything at all that you admire about your partner. At the end of the month exchange lists. This allows you to get into the habit of thinking and noticing nice things about your partner. This is one of the best relationship building exercises for couples.
Have Sex for 15 Days
Look, I know what I’m about to suggest might seem mad, but this has worked for couples in the past. This option might not be for couples who can’t stand to be around each other just yet, but for those of you looking to reignite the old passion, look no further. So this is what you need to do. Have sex, every day, for 15 days.
Fifteen seems a little too much? There are people who’ve done this for over a year. They all report feeling more confident and affectionate about each other as a result. It also made them realise that they were still loved for the person they are, by their partner.
Who knows you might even continue this for longer than 15 days. Think of this exercise as a crash course in reintroducing intimacy in your relationship. This is actually emotionally focussed Couples Therapy. Return of physical intimacy also means enhancement of emotional bonding.
Look into my eyes
This one might seem simple, but isn’t easy for most couples. The idea is to sit without distractions and look into each other’s eyes for a few minutes, three times a week. This gazing into each other’s eyes has to be without talking. This exercise is designed to establish a practice of just looking at each other and being with your partner, without the chaotic distractions of our modern world. We don’t realise how much time Netflix, smart phones and other entertainment takes up in our relationship and the idea is to carve out more couples time even without the distraction of talking. This Couples Therapy session hardly takes any time.
Read to each other
This might sound like it’s from a romance novel, but there’s some history of this form of therapy. Religious counsellors often told couples to read the Bible to each other in the early stages of a marriage, or even in tough times as a form of prayer and communion with the Lord. This shared activity apparently improves the bond of marriage. Whether you read the Bible or a storybook, the modern version of this Couples Therapy is the same.
Reading to each other is an interesting activity, as it requires the equal attention of both the participants. This also requires you to actively participate in the activity, unlike watching TV together.
Reading together has been said to decrease stress in relationships and couples have reported feeling refreshed and relaxed after reading to each other, unlike the ones who felt overwhelmed after binge-watching with their partners.
These five relationship-building exercises for couples have actually done wonders. But, Couple’s Therapy is not a trivial matter and requires serious commitment of both parties. While these exercises can certainly help, in case of deeper, long-lasting problems, visiting a trained professional is always better.