A Bit Of Drama Good For Your Relationship?

Love, Heartbreak

Bring some drama into your relationship.

Many of us in romantic relationships try to follow the same advice we've been hearing for years: when we get angry we should do our best to control our anger, be attentive, listen, and give our partner room to express his or herself. We have to keep an open mind and an open heart.

This is all very nice, but sometimes, when anger and frustration build up inside us, it is very hard to remain calm. When these feelings overwhelm us our body also responds—our blood pressure rises, our breathing rhythm changes, and our pulse accelerates. It becomes not only a challenge for our mind and ego, but also for our body.

As we make an effort to maintain restraint and patience, inside we are boiling. With so much pent up energy, the most natural thing to do is boil over and lose the ability to listen without applying judgment or defending ourselves. Many times this pent up negativity will make us impatient and we are unable to accept criticism in a healthy, productive way. In addition, and not surprisingly, many times these emotions cause us to feel exhausted and spent during the conversation, making the situation even more unpleasant.

To get to the stage where you can sit down and speak heart to heart, to a dialogue that really moves you forward and helps you overcome the present crisis, I would like to offer a playful technique that's perfect for this situation. Using this technique you will be able to express everything in your heart with no boundaries or apprehension, while your partner will wait patiently and allow you to unload. From the state of release and relief that will follow, you will be able to continue to a more relaxed and healthy conversation.

The exercise is called "Dramatic Relief".

The idea is to create an open stage, free for expression and release. One of you—the one who needs to share whatever it is that is bothering him or her—will be "the actor", and the other, the one who will listen and enable, will be "the viewer".

The actor will take the troubling topic, and exaggerate it into a classic soap-opera monologue. The actor has to apply himself completely, give liberty to their mouth and body and release everything, with as little planning as possible. This should all be done while kicking up the drama!

The viewer will listen patiently, while avoiding any response, justification, or judgment. The viewer must remember that this isn't "real" conversation, but a supportive space for the partner's release. The viewer should  not respond, and it is important they take it all humorously—as if he or she is watching this soap opera starring their partner on TV.

How do you put this technique into practice?

Next time you feel tension rising, and it appears that you are about to have a fight, let your partner know that you'd like to make a scene—that will be the cue that the game is about to start.

Keep in mind that it doesn't have to be a super serious subject; on the contrary, sometimes it is better to start small. It also doesn't have to be anger directed towards your partner—you can try this exercise to release pent up anger at anyone, with your partner simply there to support you and listen.

Take a deep breath, and take the stage. Let it all loose—your words, your body, your ego, and your mind. Express everything without thinking about what you're saying, and remember that your partner is there for support and enablement.

At some point you will find that all that is left is the game, and that the anger is gone. Your body will be free from the emotional and physical load. You might even start laughing. You will find that the mind calms down and regains clarity, and that your big problems are back in proportion. Chances are you will feel your body filling with vitality and relief. When you feel this, the exercise can be concluded.

Look at your partner, the viewer, the enabler, who is probably smiling at this point. Give them a hug and offer them the stage.

After all this drama, the rest of the conversation will be much more open and productive.

Remember next time your conversation gets heated, the solution is not always to calm down and lower the flame. Exaggerate the drama—it will do your relationship good.