couples playbook

The Couples Playbook

Written by Rob Giltner, MAMFT

The process of self-soothing is extremely important.

  • When an individual feels flooded (emotionally overwhelmed) she/he may begin to have over 90bpm and it makes it very difficult to listen to understand, offer empathy, and dialogue. This may then result in stonewalling, criticism, and defensiveness.
  • Antidote to flooding is self-soothing. Being aware that you are flooded and that your partner might be flooded is the first step to avoid causing damage in a relationship.
    • What triggers you and your partner to feel flooded?
    • What ways does your partner soothe?
    • What is something your partner does that soothes you?
  • Couples who soothe are extremely more likely to come back to the argument and discuss the problem in a rational and gentle way leading to a solution.
    • Steps to manage flooding:
      • Being mindful
      • Pause
      • Soothe
      • Ask for a Break (not avoidance)
      • Come back to the problem

The act of accepting bids.

  • Couples have small moments throughout the day that build up and can “make or break” a relationship.
  • Bids are bids for connection.
    • Ex. Come sit with me while I read.
    • Do you love me?
    • Is it cold in here?
    • What do you think of this outift?
    • Look at this meme.
    • That cooking class looks fun.
    • I am so tired.
    • Did you see that?
    • I am fine.
  • Couples need to accept influence to accept the bid.
    • Accepting, understanding, and allowing your partners perspective, feelings, and needs into your decision-making process as a couple.
    • Find the emotion in the bid and turn towards.
  • Managing failed bids.
  • Couples must repair after failed bids because small moments can create lasting scars. Ex. A partner might be feeling lately that her partner is annoyed or frustrated towards her. She offers a bid to connect to feel valued. If her partner is not aware of the bid it has failed and she may be left feeling rejected and not important and that feeling can grow.
    • The Script to repair after failed bids:
      • Understand your partners subject reality. (Both partners have their own subject reality)
      • Communicate your understanding, make meaning of it.
      • Admit some role.
      • Offer empathy.
    • Ask follow up questions:
      • How have I/we been expressing needs for loneliness?
      • How have I/we been expressing needs to be alone?
      • Is there a better way I/we can express needs?
      • Is there a conversation we need to have but have not?
  • Understand the triggers
    • Events related to influence.
    • Events related to acceptance.
    • Events related to affection.
  • Triggers that go unnoticed can grow into emotional wounds that can corrupt relationships.
  • Find the “seeds” (dreams within conflict) to heal wounds.