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Exercises to enhance closeness and intimacy

Neil Rosenthal

The following is a collection of couples enrichment exercises taken from the “Brief Couples Therapy Homework Planner” by Gary Schultheis, Bill O’Hanlon and Steffanie O’Hanlon (John Wiley and Sons). Try these exercises out as a way of enriching and deepening the intimacy between you:

n Find five things you would do if you were really in love. For the next two weeks, do one of those five things each day with (or to) your intimate partner. Record what you did and what you learned from your experience each day.

n Share these questions and answers with your partner: Give three examples of your idea of an extremely romantic evening; list the three most romantic times the two of you have enjoyed together; what are the three things that you enjoy doing together that cost no money? When have you felt most loved in your relationship? When have you felt closest? When have you felt most valued? What are five things your partner does to communicate that s/he cares about you? What are five things you do to communicate that you care about your partner?



n Make a note of something your partner does that helps you – or helps to strengthen your relationship. Pay attention to when you feel cared about, helped or understood. What specific things led you to feel that way? Then acknowledge your partner for his/her behavior. Be sure to give credit for all credit earned. Note how your partner responds.

n Make a list of at least three actions that you would like your mate to do, or do more often. Be specific and clear. Direct your attention to actions, rather than personality traits and characteristics. For example, you might say, “I’d like you to greet me at the door with a kiss when I come home from work, ask me about my day and be attentive, involved and sympathetic when I tell you.” Share this list with you mate, and invite his/her list as well.



n Imagine that the problems in your relationship are resolved. Things have worked out very well and nobody lost. Describe your life and your relationship with the problems solved. Write five things you would do differently right now if you knew you were headed toward that future. List three things you would think about differently if you knew for a fact you were headed in that direction. What effect would it have if you started doing those things even if the outcome is uncertain?

n Describe three situations that are representative of something you would like to change in your relationship. Focus on what you do or experience in the situation rather than on how you want the other person to change. Pay special attention to things you may say or do, rather than what your partner does. Note how you respond to your partner. Be as objective as possible – as if you’re an uninvolved third party. Now examine what you could do differently in order to change the event. How could you change the outcome?

n Imagine the intimacy in your relationship on a scale of 0-10, with 10 being the closest you’ve ever felt. Each day for the next week, plot your feelings of intimacy on the 0-10 scale. Note what helped you feel closer or more distant. At the end of the week, share this scale with your mate.



Neil Rosenthal is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Boulder. He can be reached at (303) 758-8777 or e-mail at his Web site http://www.heartrelationships.com


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