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Getting to know you - Table of contents


introduction

This page includes get-to-know-you questions, sentence starters & conversations for Personal Couples Retreats &/or Nightly Check-In or as inspired, anytime.

There are 3 basic formats for getting to know each other: 1) Write & Share, 2) Walk & Share & 3) Face to Face. Be sensitive to your needs when matching the sentence starters and conversations below with these 3 approaches. The different sections i.e. “Write & Share”, “Face to Face” etc. include likely options, but you can mix and match any of this i.e. use a “Face to Face” sentence completion on a “Walk & Share” etc. On the other hand, there are times, especially at one of your Personal Couples Retreats that you will want to lock the doors, turn off the phones and get down to a few minutes of writing.

Note also that there are some alternate, powerful resources for truly rich experiences in any of the formats (Write & Share, Walk & Share or Face to Face). My favorite two are: 1. Sue Johnson's “Hold Me Tight” and 2. The LDS ARP Materials. You may have some of your own- perhaps an inspiring book you’re reading or a podcast you could listen together, creating “Write and Share” or “Walk & Share” questions of your own in connection with the material.

Example: If you’re reading Jo Dispensa’s “Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself” together. Pause as inspired. Ask yourselves (in conversation or in “Write & Share”) “How does this make you feel as you consider what Joe is saying here?” Then either Write & Share” about it, or “Talk & Share”).

Sue Johnson's book has built in conversations (7 of them). They are wonderful! But you could take it further if you wanted and write about each conversation before talking.

Getting to Know You (Write & Share) Table of Contents

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Write & Share instructions & guidelines

Write & Share (or often, Walk & Share) is for personal couples retreats (one or two day getaways, R&R i.e. a bed and breakfast or camping etc.). During your retreat you would spend at least 30 minutes doing Write & Share. Write & Share can also be tied into your Weekly Inventory or even your Nightly Check-In.

The most powerful application of Write & Share is a 90 day Write and Share with at least 5 to 10 minutes a night, following (or in place of) your Nightly Check-In (an idea promoted by Victor Cline in “Marriage Enrichment”).

Here we go!

1) Take turns choosing a Write & Share Question from the list below and each of you write for 3 to 5 minutes.

2) Write about your feelings, your fears, your victories, your discouragement, hope, and inspiration etc.  Own your feelings. Own your experience.  Don’t write about him or her. Play your sharing and conversation close to the heart- to your heart. Your loved ones will always lean away when your content is about them, but they will always lean in when you’re talking about you.   

3) After writing, exchange notebooks with each other.

4) Read each other's entry.

Note: After reading each other’s entry, place journals (or notebook) where each of you can easily see both entries (yours and his or hers).

5) Partner A shares (Consider the following sentence starters.):

  • "What struck me about what I wrote”, or “what stood out for me was (or “is”) ________”.  

  • "What stood out for me (or struck me, or impressed me) about what you wrote was (or is) _____”

  • "What I think I understand about you more is that ________"  [Note: Make this uplifting, never critical]

  • “What I think I understand more about myself is that ________”

Feel free to validate what you are hearing when spouse shares i.e. “yes, that makes sense” and/or to empathize i.e. “I totally get how you would feel like that” or even “tell me more about _________" etc.  

Note that any of your thoughts and feelings could lead to conversation. This conversation can be revealing but must be positive and hopeful to fit Write & Share. If things go south please go on to some other aspect of the conversation, or if necessary, discontinue the meeting all together and spend some time in prayer and/or meditation (in the same room, or on your walk, or separately).

6)
 Reverse the above.  Partner B now shares.


Instructions Re-cap & Other Guidelines

  • Pay zero attention to grammar or spelling.

  • Do not even imply any criticism.

  • Do NOT become defensive.

  • Talk about yourself , not your spouse.

  • Avoid blaming statements, i.e., "you made me..." or "you didn't...".  Stay with your feelings.

  • Don't expect your spouse to change because you shared your feelings.

  • Don't short-change your "Write & Share" time.

  • If at any point in this process things go south, enjoy some time meditating. Come back to this later.


Getting to Know You (Write & Share) Table of Contents

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Sue Johnson's 7 conversations

Once you’ve had some success with the regular Write & Share and Face to Face questions and sentence starters, consider alternating these with Dr. Sue John’s “Hold Me Tight”, 7 Conversations. <- Click here. I’m not sure why this book is free online, but in my opinion it is one of the 3 most important books on marriage of all time. Even better is to get the book on Kindle, where you can take a walk with your spouse, listen to the book, pausing from time to time for one of Sue’s 7 conversations.

Getting to Know You (Write & Share) Table of Contents

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Write & share - possible topics

Write & Share or Walk & Share Topics (inspired by Dr. Victor Cline ) - Return to “Getting to Know You” Table of Contents

  1. “How a Relationship Cleanse could bless me” and/or “What do I feel about doing a relationship cleanse?”
    NOTE - Focus on how you will be blessed in doing a Relationships Cleanse, not your spouse.

  2. “How could using an Issues List bless me?” and/or “What do I feel about using and issues list?”

  3. “What do I feel as I consider the possibility of either listening (clear the landing) or getting time-out (postpone the landing) verses defending (or becoming defensive)?”

  4. How do I feel when you point out something you like about me, or are proud of or are thankful for?

  5. What did I feel as we read the power of “closing the back door?”  “How does this apply to me, not my spouse?” (Stay with your feelings on this one.  This isn’t about your partner).

  6. What will I feel deep inside of me by never saying goodbye, regardless of how hard things might get or how much I might like to run?  What will I feel? What am I now feeling as I write about this? 

  7. When I have felt closest to you in the past 3 to 6 months and how it feels?  

  8. How does it feel when you greet me (or treat me) warmly after a rough day?

  9. What good things could happen in me through regular Personal Couples Retreats? What good things could happen between us? What good things could happen in our family? What would it take for me to be even more devoted to our Personal Couples Retreats? (What could I specifically do?)

  10. Why do I love you?  What are my feelings about you and the love I have for you?

  11. How do I feel as I increase my consciousness of and my focus on what you need? What I’m beginning to see is _______.

  12. In what ways do I need you the most?  How do I feel when you come through in these ways?

  13. How do I feel when you kiss me or touch me?

  14. How do I feel when we pray or meditate together?

  15. What are my feelings when you tell me you need me?

  16. What are my feelings when I want to be with you and can't.

  17. How do I feel when I listen to you with my heart, or you listen to me with your heart?

  18. How do I feel knowing I am yours?

  19. What I feel as I look and see the real you.

  20. What are my feelings when I know I have hurt you?

  21. How do I feel when I humble myself and decide to be there for you?

  22. What are my feelings when I know you are proud of me?

  23. The most significant thing that has happened with us the last 3 months & how it made me feel.

  24. When I need to relax, what I love the most from you is…

  25. What are my feelings when I'm aware that you have had a bad day.

  26. How do I feel when I'm too tired to pay attention to you and give you what you need?

  27. What have I done to make you #1 recently and how does it make me feel?

  28. When I’m upset about something, I would love for you to…   When you do, it makes me feel…\

  29. The strongest feeling I've had today is ____.   How do I feel as I prepare to share this?

  30. What feelings do I have that I find most difficult to share with you and how does this feel?

  31. How do I feel when you hug me or hold me for a long time?

  32. If we could spend an entire day together, uninterrupted, I would want to…

  33. How do I feel when you tell me that you love me?

  34. What are my feelings just being quiet and cozy with you?

  35. Did I strive for unity this past week? How did it feel? How does it feel?

  36. The most important thing to know about me is…

  37. Things I like you do for me, in order of importance.  Why? ...and how it makes me feel.

  38. What would I be saying to you if we were sitting on the porch of our house in 20 years? 

  39. What are my reasons for wanting to go on living?  

  40. What are my dreams for our marriage and life together? 

  41. How do I feel when we pray and/or read scriptures as a couple?  How do I think you feel.  
    How do I feel about my willingness or lack of willingness to fight fire with faith? (Please note that this is about you, not your spouse)

  42. What do I often do when I feel separated from  you? How do I feel when I do this? How do I think you might feel?   What do you do when I __________________ (what you just wrote about)?   How do we both end up feeling? 

  43. What happens to me when I conclude that something is your fault?  How do I feel inside?

  44. What would happen in my feelings? (what would I feel?) if I took 100% responsibility for every single thing I did, said and am that causes you emotional pain?

  45. What is it like for me when I don’t feel emotionally safe? - when I feel like you may leave me or withdraw your love, or disapprove of me or be disappointed in me?  What do I feel?

Note: You can also use the Face to Face questions and sentence completions for Write and Share.  Use any of these questions, or your own, however you'd like.  The goal is to get to know each other.


Getting to Know You (Write & Share) Table of Contents

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Face to face - guidelines

Inspired by Barry Spulchuck  Return to “Write & Share” Table of Contents

Warning!  Face to Face is best used if you're emotional bank account is high with each other (or under the advice of your coach). If not, stick to Nightly Check In and Write and Share (above) for your Personal Couples Retreats.   With high trust between you, you can also use Face to Face questions for Nightly Check In or  as Write and Share topics, or even for an amped up Chit-Chat experience on car trips that are more than an hour. 

Instructions and Guidelines
 (The actual questions are below this)
1) These should be done face to face, knee to knee (or at least close to it) UNLESS your emotional bank account is so high with each other than you can navigate through these kinds of tender and deep waters even on a walk.    

2) On repeating questions, Partner A picks and asks Partner B one of the questions, slowly, gently and repeatedly.  Each time Partner B answers, Partner A asks the question again.  Go about 1 minute (3 to 10 times) and then switch directions, doing the same question.  

3) Avoid conversation.  Keep with brief answers to the questions.  

4) In "sentence completions" Partner A completes the sentence 3 to 5 times (or if in a workshop, until the time is up). Partner B then completes the sentence 3 to 5 times (or until the time is up).  You can, alternatively do "Sentence completion" or "repeating questions" "ping pong" style (as inspired) taking turns completing the sentence for 1 to 5 minutes.

5) There are no right or wrong answers. Just say whatever comes to your mind (bearing in mind the guidelines below).

6) Most important instruction!  Make your answers about YOU, not about your partner.  This is a "get to KNOW each other" exercise.  C

Example: "What do you want to feel?"

Good examples of responses: 

  • I want to feel fully alive. 

  • I want to feel my faith again. 

  • I want to feel unashamed about my past. etc.  

Disastrous responses:

  • I want to feel like you really care about me.

  • I want to feel like you're putting me first.

  • I want to feel like I actually matter to you.

  • I want to feel sexually turned on when I'm in your arms (because I never do) etc.

Of course, some of these questions are an invitation to get clear on your needs and how to better come through for each other.  BE CAREFUL to make your responses upbeat and brief.  Point your partner toward possibilities, not disappointments. 

Example:  
"What do you need from me?" 

Good responses: 

  • More time.

  • More movies.

  • More walks.

  • When I'm telling you my feelings, just to take 5 solid minutes to listen.  That would be great.

Disastrous responses:

  • More money. (This one is enough to send any man off a cliff)

  • More sincerity (What does that mean?  Get specific.  Get upbeat)

  • For you to think about me for once, instead of yourself  etc.

Getting to Know You (Write & Share) Table of Contents

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Face to Face - Questions & Sentence completion

 Here’s your options. Enjoy getting to know each other!

  1. What do you want?   (Repeating question)

  2. What makes you happy?   (Repeating question)

  3. Who are you?   (Repeating question)

  4. What are you afraid of?   (Repeating question)

  5. What makes you feel safe?   (Repeating question)

  6. What do you love and why?   (Ping pong)

  7. What makes you embarrassed?   (Ping pong)

  8. When do you feel proud?   (Ping pong) 

  9. What’s missing from your life?   (Repeating question)

  10. What I’m afraid to feel is...     (Sentence completion)

  11. What do you hold on to?     (Ping pong)

  12. What do you hide from yourself? (Repeating question or ping pong)

  13. I’m afraid to let you love me because…    (Sentence completion)

  14. I’m afraid of succeeding because...   (Sentence Completion or Ping pong)

  15. What would you risk by loving me, or, what would you have to let go of to love me?   (Repeating question. Ask either or both)

  16. What I’m afraid to be is…   (Sentence completion or Ping Pong)

  17. What I would like to give you is...  (Sentence completion)

  18. What I don’t want to look at is...   (Sentence completion)

  19. What do you need from me?   (Repeating question)

  20. What do you need the most from me?   (Repeating question)

  21. What would you like me to give myself?   (Repeating question)

  22. I feel loved by you when…   (Sentence completion or Ping Pong)

  23. What I think you need is...   (Sentence completion)

  24. What I want to feel is...  (Sentence completion)

  25. What do you stand for?   (Repeating question)

  26. What do you need from me?   (Repeating question)

  27. What makes my life worth living is...  (Ping Pong)

  28. What I don’t want to look at is...   (Sentence completion or Ping Pong)

  29. I’m grateful for…  (Ping Pong]

  30. I feel loved when you say...  (Ping Pong)

  31. What I would like to give you is...  (Sentence completion)

  32. What I don’t want you to see in me is...  (Sentence completion or Ping pong)

  33. What I love about you is…   (Ping Pong)

  34. What would you like me to give myself?   (Repeating question)

  35. What are you pretending not to know?   (Repeating question)

  36. What I (sometimes) avoid with you is…  (Sentence completion)

  37. What do you want for our children?    (Repeating question)

  38. What do you want to leave behind?    (Repeating question)

  39. What I feel insecure about is...    (Sentence completion)

  40. Something you do that makes me feel loved is… (Ping Pong)

  41. JOHN’S FAVORITE - (Interview Style) What is one thing about yourself that you would love if someone knew better about you, like something that’s really important to you, or a characteristic or a desire that people don’t really get about you etc.

    Getting to Know You (Write & Share) Table of Contents

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Copyright - 2018 - John Canaan (www.pathofpeace.org)