Two People….one situation…two perspectives…
Gottman (2007) provides these exercises as a guide for processing and evaluating what happened when one of you felt that the friendship in your relationship was not working well, when perhaps one of you felt alienated and lonely, while the other may have felt a great need for autonomy, independence, or being alone. These exercises
are designed to increase understanding between the two of you. The idea here is that there is no absolute reality when two people miss each other in turning towards one another or turning away; there are only two subjective realities and what happened. You both have your views. These exercises are designed to help you get at these and to ease these situations in the future. Start with your feelings. In Part 1, confide to your spouse positive and negative feelings and say out loud which feelings you had when there was a failed bid, while your partner just listens. Then trade roles. In Part 2, take turns answering the questions about subjective realities and ways to express your needs and wants.
Part 1-Positive and Negative Feelings
Each of you takes a turn describing what you were feeling during the disagreement. You may either choose from the list below or come up with your own description. Remember to keep your comments simple and keep to the format “I felt. . . . :”, avoiding statements such as, “I felt like you . . . .”
Part 2-Subjective Realities and Changing the Way You Express
Your Needs and Wants
· Summarize your own subjective reality, how you saw this week, in terms of
closeness and autonomy. What was your subjective reality? Share your
subjective realities with each other and try to see how your partner’s subjective
reality might make sense, given your partner’s perspective. Think of bids and
turning towards or away.
· It is essential that each of you attempt to give some credence to your partner’s subjective reality. Try to communicate your understanding of your partner’s subjective reality about closeness and autonomy during this week.
How Can You Change the Way You Express Your Needs and Wants?
It is natural for each of us to make the fundamental error that it is all our partner’s fault. Actually, because it is all a cycle, it is the fault of neither. What is necessary is to be able to move BOTH of you out of the defensive or attacking pattern into a more productive pattern. This starts by EACH OF YOU admitting some role (however slight at first) in creating this distance and loneliness. In finding the right balance for both of you in terms of connection (closeness) and individual autonomy (separateness), there is a need to first understand YOUR part in all of this.
· What are your needs? How did you express them? Is there a better way to
express these needs?
· How did you (or your partner) express the needs for closeness or for dealing with loneliness?
· How did you (or your partner) express the need to be separate, autonomous, or independent or the feelings of being swamped and overwhelmed by your partner’s needs?
· What is the conversation that you need to have but did not?
Ephesians 4:32 states “And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”
If you are married and lonely, schedule an appointment by clicking this link for an appointment request.
One God..our Dependable Authority
Before and after completing the above exercises, pray and recall the words in two Timothy 3:16 — 17: “All scripture is given by God and is useful for teaching, for showing people what is wrong in their lives, for correcting faults, and for teaching how to live right. Using the Scriptures, the person who serves God will be capable, having all that is needed to do every good work.” Take your marriage before God, give your marriage up to Him, give your spouse up to Him, and give yourself to Him for John 8:32, 36 states, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free. So if the son makes you free, you will be truly free.”