12 Couple’s Therapy Exercises That Can Help a Damaged Relationship

posted by Chris Valentine

Hollywood has told us for years that relationships are supposed to be perfect and that all conflict can be resolved in between bites of popcorn or with a kissing scene in the rain.

Being hurt in a relationship or feeling as if you’re not connecting with your significant other is normal. Relationships go through many ups and downs.

Typically after a date night, you can feel connected again or have a temporary feeling of bliss just from being near your partner. We typically over-romanticize these moments and leave ourselves let down when a date night doesn’t leave us with that feeling of euphoria.

Not bouncing back immediately from being upset or feeling stuck sometimes in your relationship doesn’t always mean that it’s a bad one. It may mean that your relationship, like most, needs work. You can work on building your relationship by using couples therapy exercises

Work to Make it Workout

Relationship counseling isn’t designed to help negotiate a breakup. It is designed to have someone guide you in your healing process and work on rebuilding your connection.

With the majority of relationships ending in break-ups and over 50% of marriages end in divorce enlisting professional help can be a tremendous help in making your relationship work.

According to a Pew Research study couples counseling has a success rate of 70%. This success rate is because a couples counselor is able to provide the necessary tools to improve your relationship.

Whether your relationship problems are new or the damage has resulted from years of without proper communication and you are in desperate need of rekindling your flame a counselor can provide tools to help you and your partner rebuild.

It is important that you look at counseling as a way of working together to grow your relationship. It’s very difficult for couples to overcome the negative stigma of seeking a therapist or even just to admit that their relationship is flawed.

If weekly counseling sessions aren’t for you another way to seek help would be to participate in a couples retreat. A couples retreat allows you and your significant other to get away from stress factors that may be in your day-to-day life.

By going on a retreat it gives you an opportunity to rekindle and evaluate your relationship more fully. This retreat is not a quick fix two relationships, it requires work to be put in after the retreat is over but equips you and your partner with tools to reconnect and rebuild your relationship with a strong foundation. 

Whether you and your partner opt for a retreat or for regular weekly counseling re-putting a relationship with a strong foundation can help put you on the track for success.

Couples Therapy Exercises 

A couples therapist will often ask you to engage in relationship building exercises, these are designed to help you refocus on intentional and your relationship.

When relationships are starting off people are willing to put their best foot forward and try to impress their crush. This is usually by listening adamantly, planning a special date night, or talking about exciting things to look forward to in the future. However, in a lot of relationships, people grow comfortable and lose those good habits they had when trying to win someone over.

A couples therapist will focus on how you want to always put your best foot forward and still treat someone like you want them even if you have them. Counselors focus on helping people in relationships by teaching them but that’s important to: 

  • Continue to learn about their partner
  • Put intentionality into intimacy with one another
  • Work to improve effective communication with each other
  • Have a greater appreciation for one every day

You can practice focusing on these four things by exercising your relationship muscles through these twelve couples therapy exercises. 

Soul Gazing

Soul gazing is a tool used to create a greater sense of intimacy and trust with your partner. By staring into your partner’s eyes for five minutes in silence you can look into their soul and take a minute to just be with them.

Unplugged from outside distractions and thinking of nothing else but the individual in your gaze. This opens a line of communication that is completely nonverbal and allows you to just feel your connection with your partner. 

Uninterrupted Listening 

Uninterrupted listening is when you set a timer whether it’s for three or five minutes and just let your partner talk. Whether they talk about their job, school, friends, goals, or stress it’s your role not to speak or respond. Just listen.

Weekly CEO Meeting

The weekly CEO meeting is modeled after what we do best in our adult lives, work. This is a way for you and your partner to schedule a weekly meeting just like you would have at your job. During this weekly meeting 30-minute meeting you can ask analytical questions about your relationship.

  • How can I make you feel more loved? 
  • Have I done anything that has hurt you recently? 
  • How do you feel about our relationship this week? 

These meetings need to become a regular practice, not just something that you add to the calendar when problems arise. This is because your relationship is going to require that you put in work, same as your career.

Good Qualities List

It’s easy starting off in a relationship to realize how lucky you are however as a relationship goes on sometimes it’s hard to look at your partner and see the person you were formally infatuated with that made you feel so blessed.

To work on reminding yourself of how lucky you are to have your partner take 10 minutes to write 20 things that you appreciate about them. Keep this list close by so you can remind yourself of all of their good qualities when times get difficult.

It is important to remember that all of his good qualities that attracted you to your partner still exist.

Couple’s Questionnaire

The couples questionnaire is a set of questions ranging from what is your partner’s favorite color to what is your partner’s greatest fear. Filling out these questions helps you to learn so much more about your partner and remind you about small details that you may have forgotten.

It can seem a little silly to take a quiz on some of that you’ve been with for a while. But sometimes you lose touch with the person that is right next to you and it’s important to continue to learn about your partner.

Unplugged Night 

One of the biggest challenges in a relationship is finding the time to unplug and spend with the person next to you. A great exercise to do this is to agree to turn off all technology 20 to an hour before bed. This gives you time to reconnect and provides an opportunity for intimacy.

Miracle Question 

The use of the Miracle Question allows you to think a little bit deeper about what would make your partner happy. You merely ask your partner the following question and listen. 

“Suppose tonight, while you slept, a miracle occurred. When you awake tomorrow, what would be some of the things you would notice that would tell you life had suddenly gotten better?” 

The miracle question is a goalsetting question, it helps you figure out what your partner’s ideal future would look like and can allow you to think about how you can play a role in that dream future.

Pillow Talk Problems 

Studies show that going to sleep angry can cause a lack of restfulness and result in carrying your problems into the next day. By resolving and communicating his pillow talk you can help avoid a restless night and open up a regular line of communication with your partner.

Consistent Date Night 

Setting up a weekly or monthly date night allows you and your partner to take time to intentionally reconnect. With busy schedules often difficult to be intentional about intimacy and keep a romantic spark alive. A consistent date night gives someone something to constantly look forward to.

Planning for Future Happiness

Planning for your future together is a way of releasing endorphins and showing that you want to build a future with someone else. A lot of relationship problems come from internal questioning of their partner’s level of commitment and love for them. By creating a bucket list and actively making plans for a future of happiness you’re able to paint that vision in your partner’s mind.

Creating Goals Together

Relationships are about being a team and working together. An exercise to do this is to create goals as a unit and make a plan of action. These calls can be to eat healthier, exercise more, or save up for a vacation. As a result of making these goals, you and your partner can meal prep together, sign up for a gym membership or create a travel fund that you can communicate on how to fill.

Showcase Physical Affection 

One of the easiest ways to show someone that you care is to hug them. Even a simple hug can release dopamine and make your body feel relaxed and happy. It’s very difficult to schedule physical affection and make it still seem intimate, so this exercise might be a little bit harder.

You need to actively make an effort to hug and physically show your partner how much you care for them.

Relationships Not Reality-TV 

Relationships are not meant to be easy as they are on TV. That is one of the biggest lies told to us by Hollywood. The truth is relationships are better than they are on TV. There may be more ups and downs but there are no commercial breaks the characters are always more than two dimensional. 

It can be easy to walk away when your relationship doesn’t seem like the plot of a romantic comedy, but that doesn’t mean that you should. Rather than walking away, you can use couples therapy exercises to work rekindle your flame.

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