There's a statistic that couples only hear 38 % of what the other is saying. That is low! During sessions I teach couples specific exercises where they take turns speaking about a hot button issue. The designated listener is not allowed to interrupt. Then said designated listener repeats the gist of what he or she heard until the speaker feels understood. The couple then reverses roles.
Homework involves practicing the technique - this can involve the designated "listener" literally having tape over his or her mouth while the speaker is talking. Couples can’t go from being deadlocked on issues to problem solving until both people actually hear and thus understand the other's point of view.
THE C WORD: COMPROMISE
During the meeting each person resolves to change a small (don’t shoot for the moon) behavior that grates on the other one’s nerves. These behaviors should be specific - i.e. one partner works hard to not drop clothes and various other items all over the house, while the other makes a genuine ongoing effort through the week to not criticize the other's lack of fashion sense.
Homework is not only working at your own task, but being supportive (i.e.: not derisive about a slip-up) about the partner’s attempts at change.
WHAT’S IT TRULY LIKE BEING MARRIED TO YOU?
Here’s a great empathy builder:
Instead of walking a mile in your partner’s moccasins, write down what you imagine it would be like to have yourself for a spouse. During the meeting share your findings. For example, your entry might go like this: “Every morning I have to listen to Leann complain about her weight and beseech, ‘You do still find me attractive, right?’ I’m dammed if I say, ‘Of course, you’re beautiful’ because Leann will think I’m condescending, but I’ll get hell if I say anything that sounds like I don’t find her attractive…”
Homework is whenever your partner triggers irritation, take a breath and remind yourself that you’re no picnic either.
This might feel scary at first but remember, no pain, no gain. Boring sex can be likened to paint by the numbers. You know what works… or think you know what works so keep repeating those few moves. But secretly perhaps you want to be ravished… or be the one to ravish. Whatever.
In this meeting you communicate what you like and don’t like. “I’ve never told you that when you go down on me, great as it is, it’d feel even better if your tongue was a little rougher.”
While we’re on the subject, during this meeting both partners should also reveal a sexual fantasy or wish.
Homework is not having sex, rather spending the week leaving suggestive messages on each other’s pillow, texting mash notes and other ways of saying: “This is what I want to do to you when we finally get together.”
At the end of the week the chastity comes to an end. Plan an evening somewhere special!