Questions? 800.667.7745; Voice Mail: 925-391-0363
Email: [email protected]
Add To Cart

Section 11
Track #11 - 7 Guidelines for Increasing the Effectiveness of a 'Wish List'

Question 11 | Answer Booklet | Table of Contents | Printable Page

Read content below or listen to audio.
Left click audio track to Listen; Right click to "Save..." mp3

On the last track, we discussed how understanding the ‘flip flop factor’ can help couples working through an infidelity crisis address the disenchantment process. We also discussed a specific technique to help couples analyze how the flip flop factor may be affecting their feelings of disenchantment towards their partner.

On this track, we will discuss beginning the process of low cost behavioral change in order to restore trust between partners who have chosen to work towards reconciliation following an infidelity crisis. We will specifically discuss constructing wish lists for low-cost behavioral change, and 7 guidelines for increasing the effectiveness of the wish list technique.

Keith and Natalie sought counseling to receive help in preserving their marriage. Natalie had recently slept with a friend she had met in her Spanish night class. Natalie, the unfaithful partner, stated that she was not trying to replace Keith, but that she had been feeling lonely and neglected due to Keith’s reserved mannerisms. Keith stated, "we’ve both realized how much we’ve let our relationship deteriorate. I need to feel like I can trust that Natalie won’t cheat again. I also need to feel more accepted for who I am. I’m not a demonstrative person, I need some room for that. But Natalie says she needs to feel more loved."

I explained to Keith and Natalie that making low cost behavioral changes as part of cognitive behavioral therapy can be a good place to begin restoring trust. I stated, "low-cost behavioral changes generally require a relatively small emotional investment. For example, a hurt partner may ask for his or her partner to limit overnight travel. An unfaithful partner may ask to be told when his or her partner is feeling more optimistic about their future as a couple."

Trust-Enhancing Chart Technique
I encouraged Keith and Natalie to try the Trust-Enhancing Chart technique. To begin, I asked both Keith and Natalie to write down a list of behaviors that they wanted from their partner, taking care to address as many aspects of their life together as possible. Natalie listed behaviors that would make her feel more cherished.

For example, Natalie listed, "speak to me in a warmer, more loving tone of voice. Tell my why you love me, and take my hand while we’re walking together." Keith listed behaviors that responded to his need to feel accepted for himself. For example, Keith wrote, "if I’m quiet ask me what’s on my mind, don’t assume I’m withdrawing or being critical. Realize that I talk more slowly than you, and don’t interrupt me. Show an understanding of my need to work a few hours at the office on weekends."

7 Guidelines to Enhance the Trust-Enhancing Chart
Once Keith and Natalie had constructed their lists, I stated, "There a seven guidelines that can help enhance how the Trust Enhancing Chart strengthens your process of low cost behavioral change.

-- Guideline # 1 - Be Positive & Specific
The first of these is to be as positive and specific as possible with your list. Concentrate on things your partner can do, rather than on things they don’t do. For example, rather than asking ‘don’t be so controlling’, ask ‘go along with my agenda at times, even if it’s not exactly what you want to do, and be gracious about it."

-- Guideline # 2 - Respect Partner's Requests
A second guideline that can help enhance the Trust Enhancing Chart technique is to respect that your partner’s requests are important to him or her. I stated, "what comforts your partner, such as having you call during the day, may seem frivolous or even annoying to you. But in order for this technique to be most effective, try to realize that these acts are very important to your partner."

-- Guideline # 3 - Respond on Different Days
In addition to being positive and specific, and respecting the importance of your partner’s requests, a third guideline that can help enhance the Trust Enhancing Chart technique is to respond to different requests on different days. I stated to Keith and Natalie, "try to vary which requests you fulfill, instead of just repeating one or two items on the list."

-- Guideline # 4 - Visible Location
A fourth guideline that can help enhance the Trust Enhancing Chart technique is to put the list in a visible place. By keeping the lists in a private, but highly visible place, partners are constantly reminded to work towards fulfilling each other’s requests.

-- Guideline # 5 - Record the Date
In addition to being positive and specific, respecting the importance of your partner’s requests, responding to different requests on different days, and keeping the lists in a visible place, a fifth guideline that can help enhance the Trust Enhancing Chart technique is to record the date on the Trust Enhancing Chart when your partner fulfills one of your requests.

I stated to Keith and Natalie, "this visual record will let your partner know that you acknowledge his or her continuing efforts to please you. This will reinforce the behavior and increase the chances that your partner will keep making the effort. Recording the date your partner fulfills your request may also help you avoid selective negative focus, in which you can begin to focus on the negative and screen out anything that contradicts the negative."

-- Guideline # 6 - Do What is Requested
A sixth guideline that can help enhance the Trust Enhancing Chart technique is to do what your partner requests, whether or not you feel hopeful about the future. I stated to Keith and Natalie, "it is normal to have times when reconnecting as a couple feels impossible. At these moments, try to temporarily strengthen your resolve and continue to work from the list."

-- Guideline # 7 - Revise Your List as Needed
In addition to being positive and specific, respecting the importance of your partner’s requests, responding to different requests on different days, keeping the lists in a visible place, and doing what your partner requests whether or not you feel hopeful about the future, a seventh guideline that can help enhance the Trust Enhancing Chart technique is to revise your list as you learn more about yourself and your relationship.

For example, during a recent party that Keith and Natalie attended, Keith spent the entire evening talking business with a colleague. Feeling neglected, Natalie added to her list. Natalie’s new request read "when we go out together, touch base with me frequently, and put your arm around me. Let me know you’re proud of me by introducing me to all of your friends." Clearly, by working with this technique, both Keith and Natalie were becoming more conscious of behaviors that upset them, and were beginning to be able to communicate more openly. Would your Keith and Natalie benefit from the Trust Enhancing Chart technique?

On this track, we have discussed beginning the process of low cost behavioral change in order to restore trust between partners who have chosen to work towards reconciliation following an infidelity crisis. We discussed constructing wish lists for low-cost behavioral change, and 7 guidelines for increasing the effectiveness of the wish list technique. These seven guidelines for increasing the effectiveness of the wish list technique are be as positive and specific as possible, respect your partner’s requests as being important, respond to different requests on different days, put your lists in a visible place, record the date on the chart when your partner responds to a request, do what your partner requests whether or not you feel hopeful about the future, and revise your list as you learn more about yourself and your relationship.

On the next track we will discuss guiding couples through high cost behavioral change to help a relationship survive an infidelity crisis.

QUESTION 11
What are seven guidelines to enhance the Trust Enhancing Chart technique? To select and enter your answer go to Answer Booklet.


Answer Booklet for this course
Forward to Track 12
Back to Track 10
Table of Contents
Top