Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Relational Engagement


So, I said I'm going to work on a few good relationships. Where to begin? I'll start by spending time with The Few instead of The Many. But that won't make the few relationships automatically good.

Today, I picked up (again) The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. I want to try Gottman's six-week exercise on nurturing fondness and admiration. Call it my effort at relational engagement. I'll try to record the exercise in my journal.

Here's Week One of the exercise, and I think it can be modified if a person wanted to use it parent-to-child, friend-to-friend (maybe even co-worker to co-worker). If anyone modifies it, let me know what you substitute. I'd be interested...

Week 1

Thought: I am genuinely fond of my partner. (We're supposed to "think" this even if we don't think it!)
Task: List one characteristic you find endearing or lovable.

Thought: I can easily speak of the good times in our marriage. (We're supposed to "speak" of them, even if we have nothing to say.)
Task: Pick one good time and write a sentence about it.

Thought: I can easily remember romantic, special times in our marriage. (We're supposed to "remember" even if we seem to have amnesia.)
Task: Pick one such time and think about it.

Thought: I am physically attracted to my partner. (We're supposed to find "attraction" even if we're put off.)
Task: Think of one physical attribute you like.

Thought: My partner has specific qualities that make me proud. (We're supposed to be "proud" even if we're just irritated.)
Task: Write down one characteristic that makes you proud.

Feel free to ask me if I've gone through with my relational engagement exercise. (Not that I'll tell you my secret thoughts or anything!)

Everybody's Engaged Illustration, by Sara.

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Blogger eph2810 said...

I think those are wonderful exercises regarding marriage - or other relationships in our life...Thank you for sharing.
Have a blessed day.

1:12 AM  
Blogger Lexa Roséan said...

theres nothing like a good fight to clear the air and get you back in touch with what you really do love about your partner.

3:29 AM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

Sounds good, L.L. Sometimes taking some time on such things, can remind us or give us new eyes to see God's good in another/the significant other/spouse. And to learn to enjoy life together, better. I'll be following what I can pick up. Maybe my wife and I will each do it, do it together. A kind of bonding exercise.

5:36 AM  
Blogger bluemountainmama said... have a talented daughter. that's a great illustration! and yes...please do update us when week 1 is over. i'd be interested to find out if the exercise was helpful.

10:30 AM  
Blogger Craver Vii said...

"...spending time with The Few instead of The Many."

A heavy convicion came over me, because I speak so freely with coworkers, churchmates and blog buddies, but I have not been a great conversationalist with Mrs. Craver.

11:24 AM  
Blogger Lara said...

I really like how you've made your "smaller scale" relationship goal actionable. I'm going to try this along with you. Meanwhile, I'm still working on what "smaller scale" means in relationships outside my home.

12:02 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

What a fun exercise. I couldn't resist and thought about all the days just now.
Even in the midst of a fight and he's in one room and I'm in another "cooling off," I'll think about what makes me proud of him and all the ways he makes me feel special.
Of course, with barely a year and a half under our belt, we're still newly-weds. And there are no kids to deal with. And I married the sexiest and most generous man alive.

12:13 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Eph28... yes, I tried several yesterday, and it was quite refreshing.

Lexa... Hi, there. Welcome to Seedlings.

I guess my parents (and later, stepparents... 8 marriages all told) were especially good at "clearing the air"! (or, maybe they got the smog effect?)

Ted... I probably won't do new posts on this, but for those interesed I'll continue to add the exercises here in the comments section.

Blue... shall we just say, it worked marvelously?

Craver... you've pinpointed what I like to call the All-You-Can-Eat Buffet Syndrome. It's epidemic in our culture. We have access to so much on the table that we forget to enjoy and savor what's on our plate.

Amusing... will enjoy hearing how it effects you and yours.

Heather... can't argue with that! (hold those thougths.)

12:33 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Heather... and hold those thoughts too. (Spell checker, where are you?!)

12:35 PM  
Blogger Llama Momma said...

You have a very gifted daughter on your hands! Amazing.

5:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Craver now that you have said it out loud! Do something about it, that is the real work.

LL Thanks for this post. It is very thought provoking. I will definitely meditate on these this week.

7:23 PM  
Blogger Irish Church Lady :) said...

Looks very interesting. I may have to give it a whirl!

9:36 PM  
Blogger Inihtar said...

Wow! Good for you! So often, we take the most important things/people in our lives for granted. So kudos for your decision to not do so!

9:43 PM  
Blogger Every Square Inch said...


Thanks for sharing. Hope you have fun implementing this - it's work for sure but it's got to be fun too, right. :-)

Grace to you as you work on your relationship.

10:45 PM  
Blogger Craver Vii said...

LL, thanks for sharing these ideas.

For now... it's a work in progress. How can I be married this long and still be awkward at conversation with the most significant person in my life other than Jesus Christ?

Tonight, we're doing Scrabble and sharing popcorn and a Diet Pepsi.

Maybe I should go back and re-read The Tyranny of the Urgent. I get real busy trying to do other things, and our conversation has become totally utilitarian.

12:50 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Llama... I like to think she's gifted, but it's more likely the wonderful luxury of time she has as a homeschooled child.

For Now... and we will love to hear what your meditations come up with...

Irish church... let me know if you get dizzy.

Inihtar... yes... I think this could be a good exercise to do with family or job (modified, of course).

andre... not too much work... more like bringing out the cake and cookies (a sweet exercise, when all is said and done).

Craver... Scrabble Suggestion: send her secret love messages in the words (nothing utilitarian like "feed me.")

1:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As we've talked about smallness of scale, this issue of relationships is the most challenging area of application. Thanks for making your steps real. I agree with all that has been said, I just need to figure out the small step to take to get started.

5:29 PM  
Blogger agreenearth said...

I think these are great exercises. I did an elective when I was teaching which was all about focusing on the positives in each student, best wishes, The Artist

9:23 PM  
Blogger Martin Stickland said...

Homework on a weekend L.L! Wow! you have set a tough assignment for me here!

3:24 AM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Here is Week Two, for those who are trying this at home...

Thought: I feel a genuine sense of "we" as opposed to "I" in this marriage.
Task: Think of one thing that you both have in common.

Thought: We have the same general beliefs and values.
Task: Describe one belief you share.

Thought: We have common goals.
Task: List one such goal.

Thought: My spouse is my best friend.
Task: What secret about you does your spouse know?

Thought: I get lots of support in this marriage.
Task: Think of a time when your spouse was very supportive of you.

Happy journaling!

4:44 PM  
Blogger Jennwith2ns said...

I found this post inspiring. On the other hand, I find it a stretch to apply the steps to "mere" friendship (holy and "un-mere" as friendship may actually be). Or just tricky, maybe.

4:57 PM  
Blogger Craver Vii said...

"What secret about you does your spouse know?"

I'm kinda private, but we played Scrabble Saturday afternoon, and I almost told her my real name is not "Craver-VII." Maybe I'll tell her this week.

Should I just come right out and tell her what my real name is, or let her guess?

5:24 PM  
Blogger Kim said...

LL, In my experience, these exercises would be particularly helpful for men (who are less likely to do them) and women naturally tend to think these exercises until their men completely drain them so that they need to be encouraged to do exercises like these.

As a man in pursuit of Christ, I appreciate the reminder. We men do not naturally attend to our own spirits or the spirits of others (not even our wives). That's because we are naturally inclined to our flesh and the 'world.' These exercises are great if we can grasp the overall concept that what they are going to is our overall lack of attention to the spiritual needs of our wives, children and selves.
Peace, Kim

9:15 PM  

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