Saturday, March 3, 2012

RELATIONSHIP WARRIORS: Exercises #2 and #3

Marathon, FL 24º42.366N | 81º5.669W

[working hearts]

Okay, a break from sailing for another report from the front lines of marriage recovery. Since I posted that Valentine's Day message about relationship honesty, I've been surprised at the amount of traffic that post has gotten. Before long you'll be seeing it appear over there <-- on the left under most popular posts. More and more people have contacted me to say they have bought the book.

That's good news. We're all in this together, so I plan to post occasionally here about the exercises in the book we're using, Getting the Love You Want by Harville Hendrix. Incidentally, Chip saw this week that the program is in the running for Best Marriage Workshop here. So, clearly we aren't alone!

I covered our inauspicious start with Exercise #1. It took a while to recover from that one, but perhaps Harville knew that would be the case. The next two exercises are to be done individually -- alone. You don't even have to talk to each other. Brilliant.

I suspect some people will find Exercise #2 a little weird. I thought so at first. It goes like this: Relax alone and then mentally revisit your childhood home. You imagine walking around and encountering all the people that influenced you the most as a child. As you see them, you have a 'chat' telling them things you liked and didn't like about  spending time with them. Then you tell them what you wanted from them but never got.

Yeah, a little touchy, feely? I actually found it illuminating, recognizing for the first time some influential people that had not occurred to me before. Also, this is not a program where you dwell on childhood and blame everyone else for your problems. This exercise is designed to illuminate for you the origin of your expectations and sensitivities in your relationship. Trust me, it's fascinating.

Exercise #3 has you write notes about your imaginary trip back in time but in a creative way that you won't understand until later and, quite cleverly, I think, can't subconsciously manipulate. You draw a line across a sheet of paper with a B on top of the line and an A below. Then in the B section you put all the positive traits of all your childhood people, in the A section the negative traits. This list of positive and negative traits is your 'imago.' You'll get back to it later.

Three more steps:
--Circle the traits, positive and negative, that affect you the most.
--Write the letter C and complete this sentence: "What I wanted most as a child and didn't get ...."
--Write the letter D and complete this sentence: "As a child I had these negative feelings over and over again ...."

I'm happy to say that we sailed through these two exercises pretty smoothly, since we didn't have to talk to each other. We somehow managed to maintain tension in the air even though this process has called for a temporary truce.

Keep your head in the fox hole, and soldier on.

If you want to give us feedback on your own work, you can do so publicly by clicking on the tiny 'comment' link below this post or privately by using the link under TALK TO US on the left.

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