A Couple Counselling Exercise at Home?

Following on from my previous post on reconnecting in my relationship, I really wanted to have a positive activity that helped us both move on. I've found that we're bickering a lot more, especially being stuck at home in lockdown, but I also don't want to be the girlfriend always having a go at her partner. It doesn't feel nice on my end, and I'm sure it doesn't feel nice in return. 

I decided to have a look at some online reconnection activities and "at home counselling exercises" came up. I'm not someone who's against counselling, and I think that any service that can benefit an individual is something to always endeavour to support. I've actually been to counselling once before as a child, after my parents got divorced. I talked more about it in this post, but ultimately, it was very brief and not one that's particularly memorable. Since then I've seen the benefits it's had on relationships, as well as individuals going through trauma. My little sister is also going to be qualifying as one later this year! 

Anyway, one of the activities I thought would work well for us, was somewhat self-adapted, whilst also being based on what actually happens in couples therapy itself. Instead of constantly nagging, I gave us each a week to write down things that annoyed us about each other. As we wrote them, I wanted us to each think of ways that the other person could change that behaviour to help the other person and better the relationship as a whole. 

By stating the item, with "I felt..." and "I would appreciate it if...", it hopefully made the other person recognise the emotion and adjust their perspective on the matter. I also tried to put plans in place to help achieve, through compromising and also changing my behaviour. I would absolutely love to speak to a couple counsellor specialist in the future, to learn more about this to positively impact on future relationships, but also to be able to share further tips. 

Some of the items I brought up were little and pedantic, but I've seen how little things can build into much larger things in the long term, so it's important to recognise and prevent before that happens. 

  • I feel annoyed when you leave dirty cutlery next to sink, on the counter - I would appreciate it if these could be washed, placed in the sink or on dirty kitchen ware, instead of directly on the surface 
  • I feel sad when you never allow me to turn the sofa bed into a bed - I would appreciate it if you would compromise and sometimes say yes
  • I feel frustrated when you place towels to dry in the study - I would appreciate it if you could put these on the towel rack and I can rearrange the order to make yours more accessible 
  • I feel stressed when you interrupt me getting ready (a really silly one but it just makes me very stressful) - I would appreciate the alone time, for 10 minutes to get ready in my own space without you around

There are also some items that I've mentioned multiple times in passing before, but I didn't feel that they were being taken seriously, nor that my feelings were recognised. 

  • I feel like you don't listen to me - I would appreciate it if you made the effort to be more attentive and pay attention to conversations without distractions
  • I feel judged by your comments, when you constantly correct me and say you know a better way to do something - I would appreciate it if you let me do things my way without comments or worked on being kinder with your feedback 

They are just some of the items for example, but I am sure you can see the way in which the conversation was aimed to run. Some items did cause discussions, but it's important for the person being spoken to, that they actively listen and allow the person to express their feelings, without interruption and being overspoken. 

It seems simple but it actually worked really well and I whilst I feel I am quite open and honest, it gave my other half the opportunity to also. I made sure we looked each other in the eye as we said things with compassion, not menace. We also held hands, to show comments were coming from a place of love and not anger. 

What do you think? Would this work in your relationship? Give it a go and let me know how you get on.