Couples Crisis Kit
If you've had a rough night, a bad few days, or a terrible fight, you may be in need of the Couples Crisis Kit.
I designed this free kit for couples who are struggling and want to make an immediate and positive change in their relationship. Ideally, you should use it in addition to couples therapy or marriage counseling. It's meant to help stabilize your relationship between now and when you begin working with a marriage therapist.
The kit consists of nine pages of information, tools, activities, and guidelines. Please read through the desrcriptions below and choose the pages that are most appropriate for you:
Page 1: Welcome Letter & General Tips for Week 1
This first page is what I give to couples after their first visit with me. It is a welcome letter that contains tips on how to have a successful week after the initial therapy session. The tips portion of this page will be most beneficial to you.
Page 2: Rules for Fighting Fair
This page contains my master list of Do's and Don'ts for communicating during a fight. This is an excellent place to start if you and your spouse are consistently fighting. Don't worry about memorizing the list and being "perfect," none of us is perfect and most of us make mistakes all the time. Instead, scan the list for the things you do and choose about 2-3 behaviors to be more aware of. Choose things to do more of (like reassuring your partner) and choose things to do less of (like blaming and criticizing). Focus on making little changes often, not making a huge change over night. Real change takes time.
Pages 3-4: John Gottman's Guide for Working Through a Fight
These two pages will guide you through an exercise that analyzes why you were so upset during the last fight you had, what your contribution to the fight was, and give you ideas on how to talk to your spouse after the fight to make things better.
Page 5: Relationship Repair Process
This page summarizes my understanding of how we repair our relationships, step-by-step. If you and your spouse are working to rebuild a relationship after an affair or a breech of trust, you'll probably be starting at Step 1. Focus on doing the things in Step 1 and when you've mastered those tasks, move on to Step 2. If you and your spouse are fighting all the time, you'll likely want to start at Step 6, the fighting fair step. However, don't skip all steps before it. Instead, focus on doing Step 6 AND working your way from Step Two up. The reason for this is that most couples who are fighting all the time also have a lot of hurt and negativity in their relationships. We need to treat the hurt, increase positivty, and learn to fight fair all at the same time. Finally, if you're a couple who feels like the spark is gone and you're just roomates, glance through the steps and start at the one that seems most appropriate for you; if you're not sure, start at Step 2.
Page 6: John Gottman's Stress Reducing Conversation
No matter what step your relationship is on, you and your spouse will ebnefit greatly from having a stress-reducing conversation at least once a week. This page guides you through how to talk to your spouse so they feel heard, supported, and reassured.
Page 7: The Losado Zone
This page describes the Losado Zone, which is a set of behaviors that correspond to marital satisfaction. Quite simply, it is a set of behaviors that we all need to focus on to keep our partners happy. Not to worry, it's really only three things. This activity is appropriate for all couples and contains reading and reflection questions.
Page 8: Love Maps - A 20 Questions Game
This is a great activity for couples who struggle to talk, either because they fight frequently or because they feel they have nothing to talk about. The goal of the game is to get you reconnected, to get you to talk to each other about things that really matter, not just the grocery list and the weather. Simply choose 20 questions from the list to ask your spouse; if they get the question right, they get the points listed at the end of the question. Feel free to give partial credit and make sure the winner gets a little prize. Or better yet, both of you should get a little treat for playing.
Page 9: Book Recommendations
This page summarizes my book recommendations for couples who are struggling. In addition to this list, I highly recommend anything by Dr. John Gottman, he's an amazing research psychologist in Seattle who's spent 40 years studying couples. His work and his insights are amazing!
Relaxation Exercise - Online Tool
One of the most important things you can do to get through the next few days is to work on relaxing yourself. You can relax by doing calming activities, exercising, meditating, or any number of things that work for you. I have also found a wonderful online relaxation exercise and you can try it by clicking here.
You can also visit my page on relaxation tips and anxiety management strategies by clicking here.
If you have not already contacted a counselor to assist you, please click here to contact me or click here for a referral to another therapist.
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