Celebrating a Positive Event
This tool, based on the Aftermath of a Regrettable Incident tool, helps couples to process and celebrate what worked and creates the opportunity to discuss how to incorporate this type success into their relationship going forward. Also look at Active Constructive Responding.
Share how you felt, do not say you “felt that way”. Avoid commenting on your partner’s feelings. I felt:
Describe your reality, take turns summarizing and validating each other’s subjective reality.
Speaker. Describing yourself, recount your perceptions, your own reality of what happened to make this a positive event. Focusing on behavior, describe events as they occurred and your feelings at the time. Avoid referring to past events, “the way this happened before”. Talk about what you received from your partner. Describe your perceptions like a reporter, giving an objective minute-by-minute description.
Listener. Stepping into your partner’s world summarize and then validate your partner’s experience by saying something like, “It makes sense to me how you saw this and what your perceptions and needs were. I get it.” or “I can see why this was important to you.” Validation does not mean you agree, but that you understand your partner’s experience of the incident.
Check-in. Do both partners feel understood? If yes, move on. If no, ask, “What do I need to know to understand your perspective better?” After summarizing and validating ask your partner, “Did I get it?” and “Is there anything else?”
As you rewind the videotape of your memory, stop at a point where you had a similar set of positive feelings in the past. Conversely, if this type of experience or feelings were not typical in your own family history, explain that as well and why this positive experience with your partner is important to you. Now tell the story of that past moment to your partner, so your partner can understand why this event was meaningful for you. Share your stories – it will help your partner to understand you. As you think about your early history or childhood is there a story you remember that relates to why this event recalled those memories? Your partner needs to know you, so that they can be more sensitive to you.
Examples: Say how you felt and why it’s important, can you find a theme in your family history for any of the feelings you felt? I felt:
- listened to
- I belonged
- in control
Validation: Tell your partner what part of their story and feelings made sense to you. After summarizing and validating ask your partner, “Did I get it?” and “Is there anything else?”
Each partner affirms what they think they did right that made this a positive event.
- What helped the positive feelings? Share what may have changed from your perspective to bring attention to positive feelings. Which of the following resonate for you?
- I’d been less stressed and irritable.
- I felt more appreciation toward you.
- I was more aware of what you do for me.
- I felt less sensitive.
- I’d been less critical.
- I felt more comfortable sharing some of my inner world.
- I felt more emotionally available.
- I’d been turning toward more.
- I was not so easily upset.
- I’d been less depressed.
- I had less of a chip on my shoulder.
- I’d been feeling more affectionate.
- I made more time for good things between us.
- I’d been a better listener.
- I asked for what I needed.
- I’d been feeling more positive.
- I felt more engaged.
- I’d been better at self-care.
- I felt more present.
- I felt more confident in myself.
- I felt more energy.
- What specifically do you feel was your positive contribution to this even? Everyone brag a bit!
- Tell your partner what you appreciated specifically. Thank you for:
- Being sensitive
- Your help
- Taking / Sharing
- Being positive
- Being gentle
Consider Receiving Gratitude Exercises
Together, plan a way that each of you can maintain what is working.
- Share one thing you can do to create a positive event like this next time (focus on what you can
do, not on what you will not do).
b. Then, while it is still your turn, share one thing you would like from your partner to create a positive event like this next time.
Both partners make agreements about what they are comfortable with in order to continue this positivity moving forward. Write or draw your plan out.
Have any thoughts, questions, suggestions, or comments on this article? Broken link? Wondering how to this can be applied, modified, or adapted to your polyamorous, swinging, kink/ BDSM, or otherwise interesting relationship? Feel free to reach out to me here.