Opening the Door to Understanding
The intent of this exercise is to have you
and your partner discuss a problem in the relationship while
practicing the communication skills discussed here. The problem
that you and your partner discuss should be of moderate difficulty.
If you were to rate your problems on a scale from 1 to 10,
with 1 being a very minor problem and 10 a very severe problem,
you should choose a problem in the 4-6 range for this exercise.
As you become more practiced at using the skills, then you
can apply the communication skills on more difficult problems.
For this exercise, don't try to solve the problem, but simply
share with one another your thoughts and feelings around the
problem. The goal is to deepen your understanding of one another's
perspective using the skills. You will have the opportunity
to problem-solve in the next unit after some additional skills
Each of you should share with your partner
what your typical response is when you become “flooded.” Do
you tend to have “fight or flight” response? Do you tend to
pursue an issue seeking resolution (fight response), or do
you try to withdraw to avoid conflict (flight response)? What
type of couple interaction do you and your partner have based
on both of your preferred responses when flooded? Do you both
have a “fight” response, leading to mutual escalation? Do you
both have a “flight” response, leading to conflict avoidance?
Or, does one of you have a “fight” response while the other
has a “flight” response, leading to a pursuing-distancing pattern?
For this exercise, you and your partner
should negotiate how to take a time out when one or both
of you become flooded. What are possible signs that you or
your partner may be getting flooded and need a time out?
What type of verbal or non-verbal signal will you use with
each other to communicate that a time out is being requested?
How long will the time out last? What will each person do
during the time out? What are the rules for re-initiating
a discussion of the issues?