The following exercise is design to increase your awareness of your relationship scripts (rules for how to be in a relationship) that you learned in your childhood.
We all learn how to be in a marriage/relationship from the central figures in our life—what we learn gets internalized as rules that shape how we relate to others throughout our life. For instance, one rule that would hold you back in your marriage might be something like: “It’s not OK to be emotionally vulnerable with others.”
To create a healthy marriage/relationship, it’s important to be fully conscious of your relationship scripts.
Like a movie script that guides an actor, your relationship scripts guide how you relate to your spouse/partner. Your relationship scripts may exist both at a conscious and unconscious level.
Relationship Help: Increasing Your Awareness of Your Relationship Scripts
The exercise that follows is designed to help you build upon the relationship strengths you learned from your parents and important others in your childhood.
To help you clarify your relationship scripts, carry out the following sentence completion exercise below. Be sure to write whatever comes to your mind.
When you censor your thoughts, you end up creating a block to your unconscious
- My best trait as a spouse/partner is ____________________________.
- If I could change one thing about myself as a spouse/partner, it would
- I’m most proud of my father for _______________________________.
- As a husband, my father_____________________________________.
- I’m most proud of my mother for _______________________________.
- As a wife, my mother _______________________________________.
As you read through your responses to the incomplete sentences, see which answers act as relationship scripts in your present relationship. For instance, imagine you completed the sentence below in this way:
I’m most proud of my mother for: Her dedication and commitment to the family.
Are your mother’s pro-relationship traits of dedication and commitment something that you’ve internalized and bring to your own marriage/relationship?
You can examine each sentence completion statement in this way.
How do you think you’re different as a person and as a spouse/partner because of the positive experiences you described above (and any other influential experiences)?
Lastly, when you think about the positive ways in which your parents/caregivers have impacted you, what specific behaviors do you think you bring into your marriage/relationship as a result of these early relationships?
As you reflect on your responses to the positive memory exercise, note which positive relationship scripts and pro-relationship behaviors you would like to build on in your relationship.
Think about the steps you can take to make these scripts and behaviors a more prominent part of your marriage or relationship. When you build on relationship strengths that already exist, you create a powerful forward motion that can bring your marriage or relationship to the next level.
Until next time,
Dr. Rich Nicastro