Portland Therapy Blog

Portland Therapy Blog

Local experts share the latest information and resources on all things mental health.

DIY Couples Therapy: 5 Ways to Keep Your Momentum Going Outside of the Therapist's Office

Posted: July 22, 2015 by miranda@livinggroovecounseling.com

So you made the decision and commitment to go to couples therapy. You've done the work, improved communication, and you've met all sorts of relationship goals. Now the daunting question: How can we maintain all of this progress outside the therapist office?

Many couples fear they will forget everything they've learned, and fall back into those unsustainable patterns. I have been asked several times, “How can we maintain this connection with each other?” Many leave my office with the intention of continuing to commit one hour a week together to discuss any hurts, misfires, and successes, but let’s face it: it’s hard to commit to one hour a week when life gets in the way. So to help you out, here are 5 easy ways to make sure you stay focused, have fun, and stay connected during your one hour check-ins:

1. Pick a time that is consistent, and works with your schedule.

Perhaps it’s early Sunday morning over pancakes, or during the week after the kids go to bed. Choose a time you both agree on and keep it consistent. Perhaps just keeping it the same time you met with your therapist will do the trick!

2. Add another element to make it fun!

Try a new wine, exotic cheese or recipe that you’ve never had before. Make it more about the experience of being together. Also, chocolate is an aphrodisiac… just saying...

3. Create a format that is consistent each week.

By having an agenda, you’ll be able to stay on track as a couple, and make sure that you haven’t missed anything that may have come up for you during the week. Here is one I often suggest:

  • Successes! Start with the good! What went well this week? Work on those fancy skills you learned to have sustainable communication. Discuss how you handled a recent disagreement. How did you work together as a couple? How did you empathize with each other?
  • Appreciations! When did you feel supported and loved by your partner? It’s hard to say ‘thank you’, and express your appreciation at 2am when you are completely sleep deprived, and your partner just changed what was thought to be the biggest diaper blowout of the century. Now is the perfect time to revisit that instance, and express your gratitude.
  • Missed the Mark? Let’s face it. We are human. We are going to make mistakes and possibly unintentionally hurt our partner’s feelings. Now is where we want to visit those times to heal any hurts which may have occurred throughout the week.
  • Goals. Take this opportunity to create goals for yourselves as individuals, or goals as a couple. Maybe you realized that you needed to spend more time together, or perhaps he wants to grab a beer with the guys, or she is in need of a pedicure with a girlfriend. Let each other know what you need for the upcoming week.

4. Recall a memory.

Maybe you found yourself daydreaming at work about a recent trip you went on, and remembered a funny memory or time that you cherished. When life gets busy, we often forget about experiences we’ve shared or circumstances which make us feel connected with our partner. Having reminders of why you love each other make it easier to want to remain connected.

5. Hugs and snugs!

Okay, you made it! Hug each other! Hugs release endorphins, and create a more secure stronger bond with our partner. Always start and end on a good note if you can! This will make you want to keep up this tradition.

Pretty soon you won’t feel like you will ‘need’ to have this time set aside, because appreciations, love, and open dialogue will be flowing in the moment!

Tags: relationship and family