Relationship Strength Exercises
Last week we reviewed a daily routine to strengthen core relationship muscles. However, to build more muscle, we need to engage in strength training related to the specific skills and abilities necessary to strengthen our overall relationship. Although these exercises are demanding, the improvement you will experience in relational skills and overall intimacy is well worth the effort. Relationship strength training is often done in an “on and off pattern” with several weeks of specific focus followed by exercises to build definition in “trouble areas.” Here are a few ideas for strength training in relationships. You may spend periods of time doing each of these exercises, strengthening the specific skills and muscles related to each area. Rotate through each exercise sometime during the year.
- The first muscle to train is your ability to read each family member’s non-verbal communication patterns. Some people find this particular exercise more difficult and demanding than others. This exercise involves becoming a student of each family member’s unique non-verbal communication patterns for 8 weeks. During this 8-week period, study each family member’s facial expressions, gestures, and voice tone. Notice the faces they make and when they make them. What makes them laugh? What lights up their face? What gestures do they make when happy? Sad? Or, angry? How does their tone of voice change when they are excited? Happy? Angry? Or, bored? Really study these non-verbal communication patterns intently. Improving your ability to read each family member’s non-verbal communication patterns will strengthen your ability to understand each person. It will also strengthen the muscles and skills needed to communicate with them more effectively. And, it will strengthen you overall family intimacy.
- For another 8 weeks become a student of each family member’s love language. Our love language is our “primary way of expressing and interpreting love.” Dr. Gary Chapman describes five love languages–receiving gifts, acts of service, words of affirmation, physical touch, and quality time. You can learn your love language by taking a short assessment at http://www.5lovelanguages.com/assessments/love /. Even if everyone in the family takes the assessment, study each family member to discover how they express their love language. Notice how they show love to others. Ask them what makes them feel loved by others. Most importantly, throughout this 8-week period, practice expressing your love for each family member in their love language. Gaining the strength to speak one another’s love language will strengthen the muscles necessary to honor one another and enhance intimacy.
- For a final 8-week period, practice collecting “emotional moments.” Collecting emotional moments will also strengthen intimacy muscles. Emotional moment collecting involves looking for opportunities to connect with members of your family. Make a goal to collect three emotional moments each day. At the end of the day, think about how you did and keep a journal of each moment you collected. As you write them in your journal, ask yourself:
- How did you know the other person was ready for an emotional connection? Did you know this through their gestures, words, facial expression, or some other way?
- How did you connect with that person?
- How did they respond to your interaction?
- What impact did this have on the other person? On you? on your relationship? On your feelings about yourself?
There it is–three strength training regimens for your relationship training program. Don’t over train, complete each 8-week training program once a year. As you complete each training program, you will see your communication skills improve, your intimacy increase, and your overall relationship strength grow.