A Healthy Relationship Means Stretching for Your Lover

A great way to build or maintain a healthy relationship is to learn what’s really important to your lover. An important exercise that we use at Marriage Couples Counseling in New York City is taken from Harville Hendrix’s Imago Therapy. It’s called Stretching for your Lover.

Make a list of things your lover could do to please you or make you feel better. Then rate each item on your list on its importance to you using a scale from 1 to 5 (1 is of minor importance and 5 is extremely important). Also rate each item on how difficult you feel it would be for your lover to do it for you, again using a scale of 1 to 5 (1 is not at all difficult and 5 is extremely difficult).

For example, here’s a list which might also encourage you to find other things to add to it.


1. You put one evening aside each week for a romantic dinner.

2. Whenever I have a problem at work, if you’d just listen to how it makes me feel instead of trying to solve it.

3.You’d make a greater effort to understand my mother, and I’m not asking you to agree with her.

4. If I could have a night out with my friends without having to worry about you.

5. You’d participate more in shopping and cleaning our apartment.

6. You took more time to get us both in the mood and have more foreplay when we make love instead of always running to home base.

If you both make lists like this one from to time to time, it will help you deepen your understanding of your lover’s emotional needs and reduce your confusion when you argue because you’ll be more in touch with the subtext of your argument, i.e., what you’re really trying to get from each other (see: In Healthy Relationships, lovers always discover the sub-text of their arguments)



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    Marriage Couples Counseling & Life Coaching
    160 Bleecker Street, 9C East, New York, NY 10012
    (212) 673 4618