Couples Therapy: 7 Exercises for Couples to Practice at HomeDiscover powerful exercises for couples therapy that can transform your relationship
- 31 October 2023
Are you considering couples therapy but feel that it may not be necessary just yet? If you’re thinking of going to couples therapy or seeking to determine if it’s suitable for you, we’ve gathered a collection of top techniques and exercises from couples therapy to start from your home.
Whether you're experiencing issues in your relationship or simply want to strengthen an already healthy bond, there's much you can do on your own.
These seven relationship exercises for couples draw from methods used in couples therapy and encompass elements that can benefit all couples.
1. Practice active listening
Effective listening is a superpower in relationships! Active listening involves giving your partner your undivided attention, both verbally and non-verbally. When your partner speaks, focus on them and maintain eye contact. Use non-verbal cues like nodding and empathetic facial expressions to show you're engaged.
Reflect back what your partner says to ensure you understand their point, and show empathy by acknowledging their feelings. Avoid immediately offering solutions or judgment. This first step is about providing a safe space for your partner to express themselves. If you follow it, your partner will be more willing to listen actively to you in return.
2. Show curiosity and interest in each other's daily lives
Make it a daily habit to set aside a few moments for each other. In the morning, take a moment to learn about your partner's plans for the day. If you're apart during the workday, send a caring message or share something you think might interest them. After work, allocate time to pay attention to your partner's emotions and inquire about their day.
Maintaining open communication and being attuned to each other's lives is a key ingredient for long-lasting relationships.
3. Love is in the little things you do
Small daily acts of love can kickstart a positive cycle. Surprise your partner with their favorite snack, exchange a heartfelt morning hug before parting ways, or send a "thinking of you" message during the day. In thriving relationships, couples exchange these small acts of love multiple times a day. In relationships facing challenges, the frequency tends to decline.
Remember, you can perform these acts of love or kindness even when you're not in the mood. Since they are likely to have a positive impact on your partner, you may receive positive feedback in return. Being thankful for everyday occurrences can also play a significant role.
4. Express gratitude
Deliberately focusing on the aspects you cherish about your partner and the gratitude you feel for your relationship can deepen the bond and foster warmth.
Take a moment each day to reflect on something you appreciate or are thankful for in your partner or relationship at the moment. Savor the warmth that arises from this contemplation. Explore the significance of your gratitude, how it impacts your life and overall well-being.
5. Use I-statements to reduce potential conflicts
The "I" statement technique is a widely recognized communication exercise for couples. Its aim is to replace finger-pointing, blaming, criticizing, and shaming, which are often employed during conflicts between couples and can lead to disconnection rather than relationship strengthening.
When you're experiencing dissatisfaction or frustration in a relationship, using "I" statements allows you to take ownership of your feelings without overly assigning blame to your partner. Research indicates that "I" language can reduce the likelihood of conflicts escalating into explosive confrontations.
For example: "I felt hurt and disappointed when you canceled our plans last minute because I had been looking forward to spending time together” is a better way than "You always ruin our plans! I can't believe you did this again. You're so inconsiderate."
In the last example, the speaker instead of a I-statment resort to blaming, accusing, and making sweeping negative judgments. This approach can escalate the conflict and make the other person defensive, hindering effective communication and problem-solving.
6. Give your partner a pleasurable sensation
This is about your physical intimacy! Giving without expecting anything in return can spark a positive spiral that enhances feeling of closeness, warmth and perhaps also desire.
Choose a time when you can fully focus on your partner. Touch your partner in a way that you know or think they like and be attentive to their response. It can be stroking your partner’s hair, giving a massage or anything else that makes your partner feel pleasure. If your partner seems to enjoy it - continue! In this exercise, the focus is solely on giving!
7. Dream about the future together
Dreaming together is a powerful relationship-building technique where couples openly share their hopes, goals, and aspirations for the future. It strengthens the emotional bond between and encourages deep, meaningful conversations about what they both envision.
Find a quiet, distraction-free space to talk. Begin by sharing a personal dream or aspiration, then encourage your partner to do the same. It could be about various aspects of life and the future. For example travel and adventure, career, family/children, home/living or personal growth.
Actively listen to each other and provide non-judgmental support. Look for shared goals and try to create a joint vision. Set a goal and make plans to achieve them, what is the first step? Make it a habit to check in with each other and track your progress.