Relationships Exercise

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Purpose: This is an exercise for couples who are thinking of getting married or those who are already committed to a long-term relationship and want to make it as good as it can be. The goal is to feed your partner’s emotional bank account by determining and providing exactly what they think is a top priority in a perfect relationship. You will build a “Top 10 List” and incorporate some of these things on a daily basis into your schedule to feel your partner.

This goes both ways! We each have very individual needs in a relationship. The first six months of a relationship is rather “shotgun”. In an attempt to show each other how much we love and care for each other we attend to all the senses and hit all the bases that first six months. After a while, this type of attention slows down and we end up doing for the other person (love and affection-wise) what WE would like to have done to/for US. This is when relationships start to get sticky. So, open those lines of communications!

Relationships Exercise

Attending to those pet peeves early with the Relationship Exercise could save you years of misery.

Step 1: Relationships Exercise–The Process:

Brainstorm a list of what is important for each of you. List one item per line. Take up as many pages as necessary to complete the list. Leave room at the bottom for other things to be added as you remember them.

Now, some of us don’t have that ability to generate those kinds of thought patterns. Some of us can do this if we have some ideas and trigger words. If this sounds like you, I have generated a “tickler” list for you and have posted it at the end of the six-step process.

Divide your list into these 5 categories:

  1. Items that are absolutely necessary for you to feel like your relationship is perfect.
  2. Items that would you would like to have happen but are too embarrassed or uncomfortable to ask for.
  3. Items that are important enough to you that you would like to see them happen often.
  4. Items that would be nice to experience occasionally and would be greatly appreciated.
  5. Items not that important, but would be appreciated.
  6. And if you are using the tickler list, cross off those items you don’t give a rip about.

Step 2: Relationships Exercise–Now make two separate lists (one for each partner). List only those things that for you are absolutely necessary for you to experience a perfect relationship. Don’t worry about prioritizing them right now.

Step 3: Relationships Exercise–With your list in hand, get into “state”. Discuss who will go first. Ask your partner to remember what it was like in that first six months of bliss. How you did things together, what you felt like, how you showed you loved each other, etc. Provide some examples if necessary.

Step 4: Relationships Exercise–Ask. Ask your partner, taking the first item on the top of their list, “Honey, concerning this item of ________….Is it absolutely necessary for you to experience this in order for you to feel you have a perfect relationship with me?” Rate the items on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the most important to you. Your goal is to find the items you have listed with a 7 and above.

Now listen to the inflections of your partner’s voice. If they waffle, (e.g. Well…yes…I guess…) it’s probably not on the highest priority list. The goal is to find those things on your partner’s list that they emote with conviction of absolute highest importance (like a 9 or 10 ranking). You want to put emphasis on these activities that please your partner the most.

Continue down through the list and transfer the most important items as evidenced by voice inflection onto a separate sheet of paper. For each item you ask about, start with the sentence as above, “Honey, concerning this item of ______, is it absolutely necessary for you to experience this in order for you to feel we have a perfect relationship? It is important to state in state with this entire exercise.

Step 5: Relationships Exercise–Switch Places: Now switch places and repeat the questioning process to get a prioritized list for your partner.

Step 6: Relationships Exercise–Commitment! Make a commitment to your partner to focus on and practice the things that are important to them for a period of 4 weeks. After that time, set a time and date to sit down and reevaluate your relationship and where you could modify things.

This exercise is SO worth the effort.

A note on creating positive anchors: When you are in the same room with your partner and an emotional trauma is happening to you–whether it is involving your partner or something or someone else, you are building a negative anchor associated with your partner. This is a bad thing and leads to a breakdown in your relationship.

Place your focus on building positive images and anchors associated with your partner instead. Plan happy activities on a regular basis. Look your partner in the eye when happy, exhilarating or fun things are happening to you.

Avoid eye contact and try not to be in the same room in negative situations. That means not talking about these things in your bed, bedroom, at the dinner table or the other sacred places in your home or work environment. When you are talking on the phone and having a negative interaction, don’t be watching your partner. When something upsets you, don’t look your partner in the eye while you are discussing it…especially when it has nothing to do with your partner.

OK, here’s that tickler list of items I have composed for you for the Relationships Exercise:  If you’d like to see some things added that you think will help others, email me at and I’ll add them to the list:

Acknowledging that I’m valued and doing a good job
Addressing fears
Advice (I like to hear your advice on…and this is how I would like you to bring it up.)
After shave lotions or perfumes (I like these brands…and I love it when you wear them this often and for these occasions, I’m allergic to this stuff…)
Apologies (How, when, where)
Arguing (How, when, where, what tone of voice, what emotions and tools to use)
Asking, “Can I get you anything while I’m up?”
Asking for help (How, when, where, what, why)
Asking what you want for your birthday, Christmas, etc.
Asking questions for clarification
Attending to my needs by….
Attention to details
Babysitters and care givers
Balancing my weaknesses with your strengths which are…
Bathroom habits and etiquette (like putting down the toilet seat/ picking up after yourself)
Being held accountable
Bed time rituals
Being on time
Being included in the decision making process (Who, what, where, how, why, and what decisions I don’t care about)
Birth control
Cards and gifts…types given, romantic, funny, which are best for you?
Caring for others
Cleaning (In general, your own space, your partner’s space)
Common goals (House, job, career, yard, financial, retirement, family)
Communicating (How often, when, where, what, how)
Continuing education
Continuity (What I like to not change in my environment and what my anchors are for a happy life)
Cooking (Who, what, how often)
Dating/Date nights
Diet and foods eaten
Doing things together (How often, what, when, how far ahead should events be planned?)
Doing things behind your partner’s back (What and how important is it to include you in…
Doing errands for each other (What, how often, when, and equality of chores)
Doing things for your partner to make them feel special
What is it that you do that you think makes them feel special?
What do they want to experience to make them feel special?
What are the differences between the two?
Driving (Who, where, number of miles, day or night driving, planning ahead, asking for directions)
Eating/Meals (Separate, together, as a family, weekends, dishes, when one partner is gone, coming home late)
Entertainment (What, how often, what kind, where)
Fielding telephone calls (Questions and info to ask, taking messages, getting phone numbers, times to call back and supporting information)
Finances (Budgets, checking accounts, saving accounts, separate monies, check registers and balancing accounts, allowances, vacations, retirements)
Flowers (What kind, how often, what occasions, plants or cut flowers and budget for)
Focus (Helping us/me to prioritize and keep on track with projects and deadlines)
Forgiving/forgetting (Anything over 6 months old is null and void in arguments. Getting to core causes of the argument, bringing up the past and working through history)
Gardening (Who, what, how much, watering, planting, weeding, harvesting, canning, giving it away)
Giving (Which causes? individuals? family? friends? what, how much, how often, and as individuals or as a couple)
Habits (Habits I have that I appreciate you looking on with love and acceptance are…)
Hearing (When you are talking to me and want my attention, I would like you to…)
Health/Doctors (Who, what kind, how often, joint and separate decisions)
Holidays (Bread down by specific holidays and tasks as to how they will be handled)
House/Home issues (Projects to finish, prioritized by time and money, who, how, time frames)
Housework (Who is in charge of what and how often it will be done, shifting with different schedules or increased responsibility)
How I feel loved most (I feel loved most when you…)
Hugging and physical affection (Private or outward displays, what is acceptable/what isn’t)
Independence (What I like to do by myself is)
Investments (How much, how often, who is in charge, when, what kind)
Jewelry (What I like, who picks it out, surprises vs. planned purchases, price limits)
Keeping in touch by phone/notes etc. (When, how often)
Keeping bills current (Who, how often, when I want to be involved in decisions)
Kissing (How often, how, when, in what ways, where)
Laundry (Folding, washing, ironing, putting away)
Making commitments (What, when, follow-up, accountability)
Massage (What time, how often, where, why)
Meal rituals (Shopping, cooking, washing dishes, putting dishes away, setting the table, leftovers, dirty dishes, sinks full of dishes, keeping counters cleared)
Morals and values (What is important to me…Moving Away From and Towards Values
Mowing the lawn (Who, how often, how it should look)
Music/Entertainment (What kind, how often, when, what is appropriate to spend)
Openness to new ideas
Oral commitment to the relationship
Passion (What, where, when, how often, what kind)
Passive vs. active forms of anger/aggression and what pushes your buttons
Paying the bills (Who pays what, budgeting, saving for big purchases, paying ahead, getting behind, how past-due bills are handled)
Personal cleanliness (Body odor, bad breath, stinky feet, dirty clothes)
Personal habits
Personal growth (What types, how often, involvement of partner, costs)
Pets (How many, what type, responsibilities, veterinary visits, prevention, indoors/outdoors, handling behavioral challenges)
Positive attitude
Pre-bedtime activities
Respect (Thing you can do for me that show you respect me are…)
Saving money (How much, how often, why)
Scheduling conflicts
Sex (When, how often, what type, what I like, how I like it, ambiance, distractions)
Sharing (What do you need to share with your partner to feel loved?)
Showing me I am loved by…
Sleeping (What I need to feel rested is)
Spontaneity (This is what I would enjoy in spontaneity …)
Support (You show me that you support me by…)
Surprises (What, when appropriate, when not appropriate)
Taking me for granted (I feel taken for granted when…)
Taking care of the car
Talking about me to others (What I would like to hear you say about me is…)
Telephone situations
Telling your partner what you need to make you happy (When, how often)
Threats (What threatens you and why)
Time issues (Having enough time for yourself, your family, your relationship)
Touching in non-sexual ways (What I like, when I like it, how I like it)
Traditions (What I like that is mine, yours, hours0
Traveling (Where, when, how long, how often, accommodations, food, budget)
Unpacking suitcases
Using certain tones in a certain way to say “I love you” (How often, when, where)
Visual stimulation (What types, how often)
What I need to hear about me (You are so smart, I am proud of you, etc.)
What I don’t want to hear about me (You always…You never…making fun of me)
Willingness to make changes
Working together professionally

Oh, and one last thing…Something else you can do with this list is to clear any emotions you have with individual situations. If you understand the emotions behind the need for experiencing certain things, it can help you understand why you feel the way you do. I recommend Neuro Emotional Technique (NET) for this.

Helpful Links and References for Relationships Exercise:

Updated 4/20/19