Therapy Activities:6 Couples Therapy Activities You Can Do With Your Partner

Last updated: Sep 28, 2022
Therapy Activities:6 Couples Therapy Activities You Can Do With Your Partner

Here are six exercises from couples counseling that you can attempt with your partner to break any negative communication habits and arguments that might have arisen in your marriage.

Going to couples therapy often triggers anxieties for couples about fighting and disputing in front of a therapist who then has to decide who is right and who is wrong. If the therapist had not been adept at assisting them in learning new methods of communication and conflict resolution, this might have been the experience of many couples.

Along with educating the couple how to improve their relationship at home, a couple's therapist should also show them activities that will improve their communication at home, particularly during times of conflict.

Here are six exercises from couples counseling that you can attempt with your partner to break any negative communication habits and arguments that might have arisen in your marriage.

6 Exercises for Couples Therapy

Start by using the mirroring technique.The mirroring approach has been discussed and applied in a variety of contexts, including business, sales, and dispute resolution. It is used to assist couples in couples counseling to stop defensiveness from entering a fight and to give each participant the impression that they are being heard.

The partner who isn't upset would use the mirroring approach to provide their partner the opportunity to express their thoughts and feelings. The spouse would then "reflect" back what they had heard their partner say and, if necessary, seek clarification. It's crucial to repeat your spouse's words exactly and to refrain from adding your own interpretation or ideas.

The use of this method is subject to one restriction, though. This tactic will be ineffective and worsen the issue if it is not used sincerely from a position of understanding rather than coming out as sarcastic or patronizing.

couple kissing together can be a therapy activity while dating.

1. When talking with challenging subjects, use nurturing physical contact.

No matter how happy your marriage is or how long you've been together, it can be challenging to broach sensitive matters with your spouse. To bring up delicate subjects and run the danger of being rejected, criticized, or judged by your partner takes a certain level of vulnerability. To minimize any potential negative, many couples tend to avoid discussing sensitive subjects.

When a partner musters the strength to bring up a sensitive subject with their spouse, what frequently happens is that they do it with caution, ready themselves for any potential unfavorable responses.This can be shown through nonverbal signs such protective body language, combative facial expressions, and a combative vocal tone. Anyone who is the target of this strategy will unavoidably respond defensively.

It's crucial to employ nourishing physical touch, such as holding hands or keeping an embrace, when talking to your partner about a challenging subject. The optimal end in challenging dialogues is made possible by this move, which stops defensive guards from rising in both directions.

Hugging can a therapy activity.

2. Make your spouse's position known clearly during an argument.

Whether or not they concur with each other's opinions, marriage expert John Gottman advises couples to express their spouse's point of view in an argument before attempting to resolve it. Without doing this first, there is a chance that the issue would resurface, with each party expressing their viewpoints and no chance of resolution remaining. [2]

Setting the tone for openness and understanding required for a couple to resolve the disagreement is starting the resolution dialogue by outlining your perception of your partner's stance and asking for clarification. Additionally, it invites discussion for an equitable exchange rather than stoking the fires of controversy.

Make your spouse's position known clearly during an argument can be a good therapy.

3. Employ a disarming method.

The Disarming Technique is one of David Burns' five secrets for effective communication, according to his book The Feeling Good Handbook. Finding truth in what the other person is saying, even if it seems obviously incorrect, illogical, or exaggerated, is how he defines the disarming technique.

This can be a highly potent and efficient method to present yourself assertively in a fight with your spouse and prevent causing misunderstandings, defensiveness, or resentful expression.

Remember that you are not agreeing with everything your spouse says, instead, you are concentrating on uncovering the truth, no matter how minute, in what they are saying. The reality is, you could even concur that, if you had the same perspective on the matter, you would too feel hurt and angry.

When you utilize this technique, your partner is immediately "disarmed" from the need to lash out in anger or defend themselves. It provides the opportunity for the tension to be reduced and for communication to continue.

Employ a disarming method can be a terapy activity.

4. Reinforce positive trends and identify areas for improvement.

Relationships are no different from other areas in that we focus on them, they flourish. If a couple only only discusses the issues that arise, their relationship will be largely characterized by escalating issues. 

Yes, issues will inevitably arise in every union. However, dwelling on the issues can cause feelings of dread and hopelessness that, over time, might destroy a relationship.

David Cooperrider introduced the idea of appreciative inquiry to the world in 1986, which changed organizational change from a negative, strengths-based change strategy to a positive, deficits-based change approach. The application of appreciative inquiry inside companies places a strong emphasis on discovering and valuing "what is" and emphasizing positive. [4]

This strategy can be used to improve marriages when partners work to develop and evolve in a positive way. The focus of using appreciative inquiry in marriage would then be on what is going well in their union and what goals they share, allowing them to ultimately plan their future together.

In a talk with your husband, you would emphasize the areas in which the two of you are successful together, the ways in which you make a strong team, and reinforcing the shared aspirations you have.

Reinforce positive trends and identify areas for improvement can be a terapy activity.

5. Try to understand instead of trying to be understood.

According to Erich Fromm's book The Art of Loving, a union of love between two people requires the presence of three elements: respect, concern, and knowledge. To develop a loving and trusting relationship with your partner, you must spend a lot of time and effort getting to know one other.

Working together to overcome obstacles in life or in your relationship requires that you first try to comprehend your partner's ideas, values, and sentiments. The two additional factors that Fromm writes about, care and respect for your marriage, are then brought about by this act of sincerely wanting to understand your partner.

Mutual understanding is a good therapy activity.

6. Take timeouts when needed.

Couples are familiar with the idea of taking a break when things are tense in order to avoid saying or doing anything out of anger that you might later regret. However, they frequently lack the knowledge necessary to perform this task correctly. If not done correctly, taking a break can be used as a weapon or a trick to get your partner to back off or control their behavior.

Couples are frequently instructed to develop a word or phrase that signifies the need to take a break and then retreat to their own corners until they have cooled off. This tactic rarely works and frequently escalates a conflict, especially if it makes one partner feel rejected or abandoned in the relationship.

This doesn't work because it applies an academic and logical solution to an emotional problem. It is quite challenging to use reasoning when the emotional side of our brain is active, which typically happens when tensions between you and your spouse are high.

When we experience these strong emotions, the emotional brain triggers fight, flight, or freeze reactions. As a result, the signal word you and your spouse decided on doesn't even register at those times. Since strong emotions stop our logical thinking, the only way to change them is to experience strong emotions that cause a change in your emotional brain. This gives your rational brain a brief window of opportunity to reclaim and begin to reclaim control.

For instance, joking around can jolt the brain out of defensiveness or anger, which are both intense emotions. It would be much more effective to pause the argument and signal a time out if you came up with a signal word that made the couple remember the time they were both found outside of their hotel room in just their underwear.

Taking timeouts can be a good therapy activity.

Final Reflections

Every relationship will always experience conflicts, and if they are successfully addressed and do not set off a recurrent dysfunctional cycle, they may even strengthen the bond between the pair.

Couples counseling is intended to help couples improve their communication and provide them the tools they need to change their relationship into a more productive union.

The six couples therapy activities listed above can be attempted at home with your spouse and is a great way to start changing any ingrained patterns the two of you may be trapped in. These exercises are frequently taught and practiced with clients in front of a therapist.

Related article: Advices for a Happy Serious Relationship