Connecting Families: A Relationship Enhancement Program

it is the woman who
moves through this process without her husband knowing it. There are some marriages
that maintain a relationship with emotional distancing throughout a life time. They live
together but are not intimate or engaged. Introduce the Emotional Bank Account activity
to illustrate the concepts.
Emotional Bank Account Activity
Using the Emotional Bank Account activity Handout 1, ask group participants to
complete the activity. After the group has completed filling out the handout sheet, talk
about the following:
· Were there surprises on your list? Did you have an overall positive or
negative perception of your partner?
· What did you learn about your relationship from this activity?
Connecting Families Penn State Cooperative Extension
Mastering the Challenges of Conflict, Session 2 20 2004
Relationships are like a bank account. If we have more negative perceptions of our
partner (withdrawals) than positive ones (deposits), we are in bad shape.
Remind the group that the stages of distancing all focus on negative aspects of a
relationship and negative perceptions of our partner. Looking for and recognizing the
positive aspects that a relationship has, greatly influences its overall health and survival.
“I” vs. “You” Statements
“I” Statements
¡ Shows respect
¡ Tells how you feel
¡ Tells what you
want to happen
“You” Statements
¡ Doesn’t show respect
¡ Blames, causes hurt,
and anger
¡ Accuses, ridicules,
6. Some couples thrive in an environment in
which the individuals are focused upon the
negative and are unable to express openly
the issues that they believe need addressed.
When issues remain buried, complaining
becomes more prevalent. Call it what you
like, complaining, nagging or picking.
Being able to positively “gripe” is an
important relationship building skill.
However, the first step is to recognize the
importance of using “I” rather than “you”
statements. Use Slide 6 to explain how “I”
and “You” statements are different.
“I” Statements
Begin using “I” rather than “you”
1. When you __________________
2. I feel ______________________
3. Because ___________________
4. I would like ________________
7. Using Background Information 1, “I”
Statement Summary, and Slide 7, review
the steps to using “I” statements. Illustrate
using several examples.
One Minute Gripe
Use “I” statements
1. When you do ________________
2. In situation _________________
3. I feel ______________________
8. Use Slide 8 to teach the One Minute Gripe
process. One needs to be comfortable
using “I” statements to use the One Minute
Gripe technique. The key to the positive
gripe is that it is straight forward. It is
using the “I” process, but in a concise way.
Frequently, what happens when one is
irritated is that escalating language and
behavior is used which creates blocking
and anger.
There is also a tendency to extend into complaining causing angry feelings that tend to
get carried away with negative discourse. A One Minute Gripe is just that. It should not
take longer than one minute. Keeping that in mind helps one get quickly to the point, and
Connecting Families Penn State Cooperative Extension
Mastering the Challenges of Conflict, Session 2 21 2004
then stop talking to let the other person respond. Revie w the One Minute Gripe steps and
illustrate with examples. Introduce and conduct the One Minute Grip Activity.
Constructive Gripe Activity
Using the Constructive Gripe, Session Materials 2, as a group practice the technique.
Ask the group to form teams of two. Ask the teams to role play the situation using the
One Minute Gripe technique. After each role play, as a group debrief, focus on the
correct use of the technique and how it influenced the dialogue.
Destructive Communication Put-Downs
¡ Blaming, criticizing, judging
l “You are lazy.”
¡ Moralizing, preaching, lecturing
l “You should ...” It’s your job to ...”
¡ Threatening, warning
l “You had better...” “If you don’t, then...”
¡ Analyzing, interpreting, diagnosing
l “What’s wrong with you is...” “Your problem is...”
¡ Name calling, ridiculing, shamming
l “Ok, Mr. Smarty...” “You have just been spoiled.”
9. Reversing the process of destructive
communication within a relationship, takes
time, commitment and practice. Using
Slide 9, review the destructive habits that
can creep into discussion especially when
one is upset. Ask the group to give
examples for each.
Steps to Strengthening Your Relationship
¡ Learn to really know each other
l Values, expectations, assumptions, likes and
¡ Invest in building a bank of positive
¡ Receive complaints without becoming
¡ Stay engaged and look for the positive
10. Caring about one’s relationship is the first
step to improving it and the satisfaction
that comes from it. It really is in one’s
best interest to grow a healthy, long- lasting
relationship. Using Slide 10, review and
provide examples for the steps that assist
in strengthening the couples relationship.
¡ Conflict often occurs when individual’s
values, expectations or assumptions
¡ Conflict is inevitable and does not predict
relationship break-up.
¡ Individuals in close relationships develop
patterns of behavior to handle conflict.
¡ Strategies can be learned to strengthen
one’s relationship and prevent the
negative outcomes of poorly handled
Steps to Strengthening Your Relationship [continued]
11. Summarize by reviewing the key concepts
outlined on the Slide 11. Ask the
participants to use the “I” Statement and
One Minute Gripe techniques during the
next week. Tell them that in the next
session, the group will discuss their
success and review questions concerning
use of the strategies.
Connecting Families Penn State Cooperative Extension
Mastering the Challenge of Conflict, Session 2 22 2004
Handout 1
Emotional Bank Account
Directions: Write down ten points that describes your partner or relationship.
Connecting Families Penn State Cooperative Extension
Mastering the Challenge of Conflict, Session 2 23 2004
Session Materials 1
It’s Fred’s Fault
Directions: Reproduce and cut each situation into an individual handout slip. Ask the
group to form teams of two. Each team is given a situation slip. The team is to prepare a
role play using the situation. After each role play the total group is asked to identify the
stages of conflict that the role play illustrated.
Fred, you just don’t care, you are always late coming home.
Fred, you know that I like pizza not fish so why did you get fish for dinner?
Fred, you are a slob, leaving your dirty work clothes on the bedroom floor after I worked
so hard to keep the room neat.
Fred, I was so embarrassed when you showed up late for our meeting with the pastor.
Fred, why are you so irritable all the time?
Fred, how can you get anywhere when you spend so much on that fishing equipment?
Fred, my mother likes you but she just can’t see why you are not willing to fix that front
Fred, we got an overdraw notice from the bank. What’s going on here?
Fred, John’s teacher phoned and she wants to see both of us, not just me. Our son is not
doing his home work and is really