Do your Couples Therapy Homework!
I get it. Nobody thinks back to high school and says, “You know I really loved the homework part of that experience.” But guess what? Homework was intended to help solidify what you learned during school hours.
It isn’t much different in therapy. Homework allows you to implement strategies you are learning while in therapy so you can achieve the improvements and adjustments in you life that you are hoping to experience. The actual time spent in therapy is a mere 50 minutes out of your week and is designed to create a foundation for change.
True progress and change is created in your everyday life. To maximize the effectiveness of therapy, homework allows you to integrate the skills being learned in your life so you can truly notice changes.
Here are 3 “homework assignments” you can try this week with your partner:
1. Identify things that your partner does to make you happy. Spend at least a week writing down three things at the end of each day. Then notice if there is any pattern to these things – when do they happen or what activities are they attached to? Share what you are noticing with your partner. This creates a fuller picture of gratefulness around your partner and can reinforce the positive.
2. Use “I Feel” Statements during conversations with your partner. I tell clients this may feel awkward at first; however, you can preface it by saying I am practicing the homework right now. This can look like, “I feel really frustrated. I think it is because my job _____.” This gives your partner the opportunity to listen, respond to your vulnerability, and (even if they don’t fully understand your feelings) provide validation to your experience.
3. Explore your five senses together. It is so easy to get caught up in the hamster wheel of life and create a parallel life with your partner where you are going through the motions. Take time to go for a walk and point out every animal you see or anything the color purple. Pick a restaurant with ethnic food you haven’t tried before. Go to the department store and pick out a new fragrance. Try a couples’ massage. Enjoy a concert. Exploring the mysteries and joys of the five senses creates a happier, more mindful life and doing it with your partner is an added bonus.