Marriage Counseling Exercises

Published: 22nd December 2009
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A major part of marriage counseling is bringing your therapist into your marriage. This can be difficult for a lot of couples who may be apprehensive about opening up to a stranger, or are just uncomfortable expressing their feelings in general. There are a number of techniques that therapists use to help relax their clients, make therapy seem more enjoyable, and start the communication process. In marriage counseling sessions, two methods are used with most of the couples to break the tension and get them talking not only to the therapist, but to one another as well.

Movie Scene

When therapists first meet with a couple, they ask them to play out the following scenario for them. Choose your favorite actor or actress, or one that you feel best illustrates you, and describe a scene from your life. It may seem a little odd at first, but soon you will find that by putting the actor in place of yourself, you are able to describe your feelings and concerns more freely. This also allows your therapist to find out a little more about you as well. Is the scene you are describing light and fun, or does it have more of a serious tone? From the scene you choose to portray, you and your spouse can then continue the session by addressing the concerns that were brought up.

Paper Cup

Another technique that is used and found to be beneficial for couples is the paper cup exercise. At the beginning of the session, each partner is presented with his own paper cup. Then each perspective cup is filled with water. The full cup represents your state of being when you are feeling happy, energized and complete. Then the therapist asks that you describe things in your life that upset you and are sources of stress. These stressors usually range from family problems, to bills and arguments. For each thing that is listed, the therapist proceeds to poke a hole in the cup. Soon the liquid begins to drain and the cup is emptied. This is done to signify that the more stress you add to your life, the less happy you will be.

After noticing how quickly your cup can be emptied, the therapist works to address the things in life that add to your happiness and thus fill your cup. It is important, to know what you can do to make yourself happy. Stop worrying about the needs of others for a moment and focus on your own desires. As you begin to name the things that you enjoy, like reading, meditating or doing crafts, the therapist begins to fill a new cup. Once the new cup is almost completely filled, the therapist is asked to stop. The little room that is left near the top of the cup is what other people should add to your happiness.

The point of this exercise is to reinforce the idea that even though you are part of a married couple, that doesn't mean you should have to give up what makes you happy. Being in a relationship isn't enough to keep your cup filled. While your spouse and friends can of course add to your enjoyment in life, never forget to make time for yourself.

Linda James is a writer for Yodle, a business directory and online advertising company. Find the ultimate Guide to Marriage and Family Counseling or more Family Care articles at the Yodle Consumer Guide, The Yodler. Also check out Marriage Counseling Exercises

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