Lifelong Love

Creating and Maintaining an Extraordinary Relationship

Real Couple, Real Progress—Part 6: “The Power of Practice"

Acknowledging individual contributions and Practicing as "We"

Now that our real couple, Elizabeth and Brian, has come to a place where they can view the world through the eyes of “Couple”, the power of practicing this way of being becomes apparent.  While completing the last assignment of reviewing their vision charts, they said that they could see “how in sync they are now “moving forward and also seeing the different qualities each of us bring to the couple.”  

On the acknowledging exercise, they acknowledged each other every day for something they each contributed to the family that day.  For example, Elizabeth thanked Brian for cleaning the kitchen, and he thanked her for starting their son’s treatments earlier, a new possibility for them.  In doing the exercise on making three requests, they focused this time on things they wanted from each other.  They both were able to decline one of the requests, accept another, and “even counter-offer as well.”  This was a breakthrough for them, since they had not been completely open and direct about requesting things of each other in the past.  

A powerful way to see the world through the eyes of couple, is to focus on using the term “we” whenever you would use the word “I” in communicating with each other.  You are probably already using the word “we” in saying your proclamation every day.  You can also use “we” to emphasize your joint responsibility for whatever is going on in your relationship, even when it may seem awkward.  For example, if you say, “we’re angry” when one of you is upset, it will help you take joint responsibility for the situation and feel more accepting of each other.  

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So the next assignments, for Elizabeth and Brian, and you as well, if you want to work along with them, are as follows:

--On two different days, use the word “we” wherever you would normally use the term “I.”  After the first time doing it, discuss how it was to do that, wait a few days and do it again; notice and discuss how it was to do it a second time.  (See the “Devoting a Day to We exercise in Lifelong Love, p. 115.)

--Each person take a turn doing the “Clearing it Up” Exercise (pp. 129-30) in which you determine some unresolved issue you have with your partner, describe it to him/her without any blame, including how you felt about the issue then and now.  The listener feeds back what they heard and asks, “What was there about what I did that you found the hardest to take?”  The speaker shares what that is, and the listener repeats that back.  End by thanking each other for sharing and listening.  Then discuss how you both feel after having completed the exercise and how it may make a difference for your couple in the future.  

We want to dedicate this blog in memory of the husband of one of the dear couples that we had the pleasure of working with in one of our recent Lifelong Love Workshops.  His sudden death reminds us of how precious every moment with each other is.  May his wife find peace in her grief and memories, and may he rest in peace.  With blessings to all,

Phyllis and Peter

 
Phyllis R. Koch-Sheras, Ph.D. is an author and a practicing clinical psychologist in Charlottesville, Virginia specializing in working with couples, dreams, and psychotherapy with adults. Peter L. Sheras, Ph.D. more...

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