Step 4: Giving the Gift
It's time to ask your partner for a small, positive request.

What is it that you want that you're not getting? Dr. Harville Hendrix suggests that the best way to transform something painful is by giving your partner a behavior change request in the form of a "gift." He says, "Instead of beating your partner up about it, translate the frustration into your wish."

The Gift Exercise
  • Start by asking something as simple as, "Right now, can I make a request?" (Example: "Can you come and hug me? Can you say a kind word to me?")
  • Your partner should comply.
  • Keep working at giving each other "gifts" until a shift occurs and you can see your partner without judgment. "Once couples can rely on these gifts, the safety arena will go up and the defensive barriers go down," Dr. Hendrix says.

When you are finished with your intentional dialogue, reverse roles. You are now the receiver of your partner's feelings and should start with the mirroring exercise. With practice, you and your partner can continue to create the marriage of your dreams.

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