Use Couple Counseling Exercises To Strengthen Your Relationship
Even if you’re not attending couples counseling with your partner, there may be some couples counseling exercises you can try on your own at home to strengthen your relationship. For example, you might write each other letters discussing what you appreciate about your partner, make an effort to hold off fights until a later date, use dinner as an opportunity for quality time, set up an “honesty hour” that can function as a relationship check-in, schedule regular dates, and make plans to manage stressors together. If you feel you need more help than you can get from exercises alone, then trying online couples counseling may be helpful.
Appreciate Each Other
For this exercise, you might write your partner a letter talking about all the things that you appreciate about them. These can be specific actions, personality traits, or anything else you appreciate, whether it’s big or small. Letting your partner know that you notice the things they do and appreciate them can make your partner feel loved and respected.
Don't let this one instance be the only time you do this, however. You might make a daily effort to tell your partner something you appreciate about them. You could let them know that you notice their efforts and you recognize how hard they're working. This doesn't necessarily have to be something they did for you, either; maybe it's something they did at work that they mentioned to you. You can show them how proud you are and how much you appreciate them simply by offering them regular compliments.
Hold Off The Fight
If you can't put the topic off for a few days, try to at least step back for a few minutes to let any emotions calm down. This can give you a little time to center yourself and get your thoughts in order before talking through the issue.
Use Dinner As Quality Time
If you and your partner often eat rushed meals on the living room couch or in front of the TV, you may not be taking the time to truly enjoy being around one another. For this exercise, you might move your meal to the dining room and sit down together. It can benefit you to talk a little, even if the meal can only be 10 minutes long before you have to rush off to the next activity on your schedule. Even a little bit of time to talk and interact with each other daily can help you connect better as a couple.
Your mealtime can be a great opportunity to spend time as a couple or a family, but if there are days when you can't do it, you could instead make a plan to devote a set amount of time to talk with each other. Maybe it's 10 minutes after the kids go to bed or 20 minutes while dinner is cooking, for example. Whatever it is, make sure that you and your partner sit down together and talk at least once a day about what's going on in your lives.
Be Completely Honest
For this exercise, you can choose a single hour during the week or month when you and your partner can sit down and be 100% honest with each other. You can treat this time like a relationship check-in and talk about the different areas of your relationship, how each of you feels you’re doing, and where and how you might improve.
Spend Time Alone Together
It can be important that you and your partner have alone time together regularly, especially if you have children. You might schedule a date night once a month or even more frequently, and make sure you stick to it. You don’t necessarily have to dress up and go on a fancy date, but simply spend time doing an activity that the two of you enjoy and that can present opportunities for bonding.
Remove The Stress
During this exercise, you and your partner can each talk about your individual sources of stress and discuss ways to manage that stress. These might be self-care activities or things that you can do for each other. For instance, if work stresses you out and you tend to take that stress home, you might commit to taking a short walk outside after work to decompress. If one partner feels stressed because they’ve been taking on the majority of the housework lately, the other partner might volunteer to help with the dishes and laundry more frequently.
Online Couples Therapy Can Provide Professional Guidance
While couples counseling exercises can be helpful even without the guidance of a licensed mental health professional, sometimes it can be particularly beneficial to speak with a neutral third party in couples therapy. Online couples therapy can be especially convenient for couples with busy schedules that may have a hard time finding the perfect date and time to attend in-person sessions together. With an online therapy platform, there are often many session times available, and you can connect with a couples therapist from the comfort of your home.
As this study explains, online couples therapy is normally just as effective as traditional in-person couples therapy. No matter which option you choose, you may rest assured that it can be a beneficial and valuable tool for yourself and your partner to work through issues and grow stronger as a pair.
Whether you’re attending couples counseling or wish to improve your relationship on your own, couples counseling exercises can be helpful for strengthening relationships. You could establish a regular “honesty hour,” write each other letters of appreciation, use dinner as daily quality time, hold off fights for several days, make plans to manage your stressors together, and go on regular dates. If you’d like to work with a licensed mental health professional to strengthen your relationship, an online therapy platform can be an excellent place to begin.
Frequently Asked Questions
What questions are asked in couples therapy exercises?
Here are some of the questions your therapist might ask you in couples therapy.
- What brought you into couples counseling?
- Before you met your partner, what kind of relationship were you hoping for?
- What was it about your partner that made you want to start a relationship with them?
- How would your life be different if you were no longer a couple?
- Are you happy in the relationship?
- How has your partner disappointed you?
- In what ways does your relationship improve your life?
- How do you feel about the way your partner spends their time?
- What would you like your partner to do more often?
- What do you wish your partner would stop doing?
- What can you do to improve your relationship?
- What kinds of communication problems happen between you?
- What do you think your partner thinks of your relationship?
- Do you see eye to eye with your partner on money issues?
- What could you do for your partner to make them feel appreciated?
- Are you considering divorce?
- How do you want your relationship to progress from now on?
- What do you predict is the future of your relationship?
What is the Gottman Method Couples Therapy?
The Gottman Method is generally designed to help couples:
- disarm verbal conflicts
- become more intimate
- learn to respect each other more
- break down barriers that keep you stuck in conflict
- increase affection
- develop greater empathy and understanding within the relationship
What do you talk about in couples counseling?
Here are some of the subjects that might come up in a couples counseling session:
- Past experiences
- Relationship strengths and weaknesses
How do you rebuild intimacy in a relationship?
Rebuilding intimacy often involves gaining trust and breaking down barriers. A couples therapist can help you rebuild intimacy with your partner through guided discussions and exercises.
Does couple therapy really work?
A large body of research generally supports the efficacy of couples therapy as a method of improving relationships.
Is relationship counseling worth it?
Relationship counseling is normally worth it if both partners are invested in improving their bond.
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