towards reducing the tension between them. In any case, they
are practicing interacting as separate, responsible,
autonomous, and respectful people, not as people who are
defined and judged by others. The exercise increases intimacy.
With some thought, you can see how the exercise cuts
through many "games," such as the I-want-total-intimacy
pursuer with the I-want-space distancer or the I'm-the-boss
with the I'm-so-helpless partner. These relationships, like so
many, are based on self-put-down, restricted views of our
needs and potential.
You may not need to continue this exercise for a long time.
Use it as long as it is beneficial. After increasing communication
in this way several times, it is important to try the next one
(even if you haven't made much progress thus far). Ideally, the
next exercise should be added so that you are doing both #1
and #2 together for a while.
On designated days, say Monday, Wednesday, and Friday,
one partner gets to make one "intimacy" request. On Tuesday,
Thursday and Saturday the other partner makes one intimacy
request. (Sunday is a day of rest.) The requests must be
reasonable and do-able that day; it can't be unrealistic, like
"adore me forever," or a demand for an uncontrollable feeling,
like "forgive me for last night." The request must also be made
clear in terms of the behavior involved, for instance if you ask
for "some attention and tenderness," it needs to be spelled out
as "take a long walk with me," or "help me decide tonight what
courses to take," or "give me a back rub," etc. Since this
exercise is to increase intimacy, offensive, disgusting,
disturbing, inconsiderate requests must not be made. Some
couples may want to make certain areas off limits, such as sex
or money matters. Within these limits, however, the other
partner agrees in advance to carry out the intimacy request.
After several days, two or three requests could be made.
For couples made up of "givers," who never think of
themselves, and "takers," who never do for others, this
exercise is an eye-opening experience. Likewise, for couples in
a power struggle who have trouble thinking in terms of shared
or equal power, this experience opens up vistas. They will find,
in small ways, at least, that it is safe for someone else to be in
control. The pursuer-distancer couple will also have to change,
with the distancer shifting from always running from his/her
partner to specifically thinking "how do I want to be closer." We
don't have to have problems to ask for and do nice things for
When exercise #2 has been worked out, a simple change
should be made so that both are in control of the intimacy. On
your day to make "intimacy requests," you can now make as