(For couples who struggle with the dull but necessary tasks of cohabitating, creating issues, resentments and arguments.) Chores: Nobody likes ‘em, but they’ve gotta get done, right? Is there a better way to get them done than with a partner? Even better, what if when you dust, vacuum, wash and scrub your way across this grimy rainbow and find a pot of gold at the end? So try this: When you have a day together when chores must get done, 1) Sit down together at the start of the day and make a *reasonable list of what needs to get done. *(Reasonable = achievable goals within a reasonable time period.) 2) Choose a reward together which will celebrate the completion of the chores, which will only be enjoyed AFTER completion of the chores; 3) Take turns choosing one chore at a time to complete (ideally working together). Do not start the next chore until the previous one is complete; 4) As you do them, notice how much more enjoyable chores can be when shared with a partner; 5) During the post-chore reward, be sure to congratulate each other for a job well done. Enjoy.–LRF
Let’s face it; we don’t think of all those amazing homework assignments on our own. There’s nothing wrong with borrowing something that works. And I’ve gotten some great ideas from couples I have seen, who are already doing something that works. Check out this one I heard this week, from a couple that has been using this idea successfully for years.
Whenever they find themselves beginning to engage in the possible makings of an argument, they have agreed to finish the discussion using Russian accents. And since neither of them has ever been anywhere near Russia or had a single lesson in the language, that makes their accents that much more ridiculous. They have found consistently over the years that once one of them kicks into character (think Boris and Natasha from the old Rocky and Bullwinkle show), relatively quickly the emotional intensity loses its hold and they are able, admidst the inevitable laughter, to find that lost perspective from the original discussion. It works for them, might it work for your clients?
The key of course, is not the Russian, though as Americans we can do pretty poor (and therefore humorous) Russian. Who was that comedian some years ago that based his whole act on doing a bad Russian accent? Anyway………. the key is simply having a default “doing something different” which helps to bring the arguers out of the moment. Agree ahead of time to the “default mode”, and it usually (if they don’t wait too long into the discussion) only takes one to start the pattern shift. Try it out, and let me know how it (or your version of it) works. I know I will. –L.
[For the couple that engages in repetitive arguments, many baseless, many of “unknown” origin.] Between now and the next time we meet, whenever you find yourselves engaging in that argumentative pattern, one of you, take the initiative to go and retrieve the kitchen timer, set it for 30 minutes, then continue the argument for the full 30 minutes, no more, no less. –L.
During the week, each night before you go to bed, predict whether you will engage in the problem behavior the following day (or in some cases predict the number of times the problem behavior will occur). [The couple can do this
independently of each other or together– whatever fits better for the
couple.] Record prediction(s) and the following evening, as you are preparing your next prediction(s), review whether you (independently) or you and/or your partner (if doing conjointly) were correct in those assumptions. If applicable, record why you might have been right or wrong in your prediction. Be prepared to share what you have observed and learned next week.
In the next week, at least two different times, but no more than three times, notice what you do to resist the temptation or urge to (do the problem behavior or behavior associated with the problem). I usually explain that I know they can’t just stop doing what they have been doing cold turkey, but watching and recording the attempts and successes in the next week, will be useful information. –L.
Let’s face it, even in the most troubled of relationships, not everything needs fixing, there is some good stuff there. Sooooooo…., in the next week, just notice what’s happening in your relationship, that you really appreciate and want to see continuing to happen. Perhaps things that maybe first attracted you to your partner, or maybe things you’ve grown to love about your relationship. This week, just look for and notice those things, and make a mental or even better, a written list so we can talk about them next week. —L.
Daily (or nightly, or hourly, or…) during the week, on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being absolute failure, and 10 being success that even you couldn’t imagine, rate how well you are doing at _____________________________ (i.e. your striving toward better communication, or your control of your anger, or or attempts to control your drinking, or………). Emphasis should be placed on SELF rating only. When the rating is a 7 or better, additionally write down at least one thing you did to contribute to that success. If the rating is a 3 or less, write down at least one thing you could have done to have improved the rating even a half a point (i.e. from a 2 to a 2.5).