Marriage isn’t always easy and it can be helpful to have some professional guidance and advice along the way. But, not all couples are excited at the thought of airing their marriage difficulties to a complete stranger in therapy.
Thankfully there are many couples therapy exercises you can do at home to strengthen your relationship and build trust and communication.
These couples therapy techniques can help you communicate on a deeper level, teach you to fight fair, and create goals for your future together. There are many benefits to practicing these relationship exercises both before and after marriage.
Strengthen your relationship and your love for one another by adding these 8 trust and communication-building exercises into your weekly routine.
1. Do a trust fall
A trust fall is a trust-building exercise that may seem small but fosters large results. We may have done it as a fun activity with friends but it can actually be a part of couples’ therapy at home.
To do a trust fall, one partner stands behind their blindfolded spouse. The blindfolded spouse will then deliberately fall backwards and their partner will catch them.
It sounds like an easy game, but it requires trust and blind faith in the blindfolded spouse that their partner will catch them. This may cause the blindfolded partner to turn around, fearing that their partner will miss.
Note: When doing any kind of exercise like this always practice safety by choosing a physically safe place to conduct this exercise.
2. Never go to bed angry
One of the couples therapy exercises that will soon become a “Code to live by” is that of never going to bed angry.
Beijing Normal University researchers Wanjun Lin and Yunzhe Liu performed a sleep study on 73 male students to see how negative emotions and memories would affect their sleep patterns.
The results showed the students were less capable of restful sleep and had a heightened feeling of distress after being shown negative imagery right before bed.
If these students were to be shown negative imagery hours before going to sleep, the brain would be able to subdue the distress response.
However, going to bed immediately after arguing or experiencing trauma causes the brain to protect that emotion, keeping it fresh and clear in the mind.
These findings suggest that the age-old adage of “Don’t go to bed angry” definitely has some merit to it. Negative emotions directly impact the ability to sleep. If you and your spouse are in distress, you should make nice before heading to bed.
Consider this and other activities that reduce conflict as couples communication exercises that will only make your terms of endearment better than before.
Even though it may be difficult to resolve all issues prior to bed, agree to table the disagreement and both practice small gratitude exercises before bed.
This will allow you to focus on the positive aspects of each other leaving a positive image in the mind prior to bed leading to a better night’s sleep.
Review the concerns in the morning with a well-rested mindset. Your feelings may have changed and if you were unable to fix the issue before bed, it may be easier at this point.
3. Write an appreciation list
Some of the best couples therapy exercises have to do with restructuring how you think and feel about your partner. A great way to do this is with an appreciation list.
Partners will write down five things their partner does that they appreciate, followed by five things their partner could be doing to make them feel more loved, secure, or appreciated in the relationship.
By writing down and meditating on their spouse’s good qualities first, partners will be able to focus on the good in the relationship before looking at ways to improve love and communication in a way that is constructive, rather than accusatory.
You can also maintain couples therapy worksheets or marriage counseling worksheets with more detailed analysis that can be used for self-assessment.
4. Unplug from technology
One of the best couples therapy exercises you can do is to unplug from technology and have a talking session.
Smartphones and devices are a great way to connect to the world, but they have a surprisingly bad effect on your personal relationships. After all, how can you give your spouse your undivided attention when you are checking your phone every ten minutes?
For this exercise, eliminate distractions such as television, video games, and smartphones for 10 minutes a day. Use these 10 minutes to talk to one another. Go back and forth telling each other the things you love and appreciate about them.
Do not interrupt one another. This feel-good exercise creates positive thinking and boosts self-esteem. Abstaining from technology and focusing on your partner is actually advocated by many marriage counselors among the relationship building activities for couples.
You can go for a shared meditation experience instead!
Watch this video of breathwork therapist Eileen Fein explaining how shared meditation sessions can build a healthy relationship:
5. Team building exercises
Since you are working on bettering your relationship, it’s time for the team building exercise. This fun step involves the two of you trying something new that requires you to rely on one another. You can make these couples therapy activities as fun or as challenging as you like.
Some ideas for team building exercises include learning an instrument together, hiking, learning a new language, making online videos together, and zip lining, kayaking, or going to the gym.
Both of you can make a list of some activities that you would both enjoy trying together.
Happy couples are kinder to one another. One study revealed that happy people are more likely to be kind to others, have higher motivational drives and a sense of gratitude. Couples who try new things together build trust and cooperation skills and boost happiness levels.
6. Honesty hour or “Marriage check-in”
If you are trying to find the best couples therapy exercises for communication then go for a marriage check-in.
This is a couple exercise that should be done once a week, face to face. Couples will have an hour of honesty where they speak frankly, but kindly, about the state of their marriage.
Partners will then be allowed to talk about improvements they would like to see in the marriage or speak of things that are bothering them. The listening partner agrees not to get overly offended or overreact.
This arrangement allows both partners the opportunity to listen and to be heard. The calm atmosphere of this marriage check-in should encourage partners to speak freely to one another with a view to solving a problem, not attacking one another.
Experts vouch for this as one of the best trust building activities for couples as many emotional walls can be broken with this technique.
7. Consistent date night
No matter the age or duration of the romantic relationship, all couples will benefit from a regularly scheduled date night. These evenings allow you to plan fun relationship building activities together, which foster positive emotions.
Date night is also a great opportunity to reconnect emotionally and sexually in a fresh environment. Consider it as one of the fun and romantic couple counseling exercises.
The closer a couple is, the better their communication and the physical relationship will be. Whatever you do on date night, make sure you are focusing on each other and having a great time with such couple communication exercises.
8. Eliminate stress triggers
Stress is harmful to marriage. Not only does it cause couples to associate negative feelings with one another, prolonged marital stress can also lead to clinical depression and other psychiatric disorders.
Identify stress triggers in your marriage. Examples of stress triggers might be bringing up past conflicts such as infidelity, health concerns, and financial instability.
Instead of bringing up stress triggers to argue, identify them with a view to solving the problem so that resentment does not linger from these topics in the future.
Every relationship can benefit from couples therapy exercises. Whether your relationship is picture-perfect or you’re both looking to improve your marriage, couples therapy activities can now be done from the comfort of your own home.
Many couples, in fact, swear by such couples counseling exercises which have brought them together after facing a difficult time or made their relationship better than before.
If you still require more assistance then look for online marriage counseling to seek some expert marriage counseling exercises to work on your relationship.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Rachael Pace is a noted relationship writer associated with Marriage.com. She provides inspiration, support, and empowerment in the form of motivational articles and essays. Rachael enjoys studying the evolution of loving partnerships and is passionate about writing on them. She believes that everyone should make room for love in their lives and encourages couples to work on overcoming their challenges together.