20 WEEKS TO A BETTER BOND designed by me
This “twenty week program” is meant to help couples center themselves and prepare for marriage or strengthen an existing marriage /relationship. Couples may also wish to condense the program to twenty days. This is not mandatory for any of my couples; it is only suggested for those who desire informal counseling and to strengthen their commitment after a time of discontent.
Why “20?” In a longer marriage ceremony I used a number of times, I drafted and spoke the following line: “since you have twenty fingers together, every twenty days try to adopt a new habit, pursue and an adventure or learn something new to strengthen your marriage.”
Week 1: Describe or list your best and worst qualities. This is an introspective exercise; sharing is not necessary.
Week 2: Write your partner’s biography.
Week 3: Share the biographies you wrote. Enhance them by learning more about each other — fill all gaps.
Week 4: Describe or list what you love about each other. Also consider what may irritate you; contemplate whether these little things really matter.
Week 5: Share what you love about each other.
Week 6: Do something new together.
Week 7: Discuss your existing finances. Create an overall plan to make sure you both generally agree on the household budget. Be realistic when defining a need and want.
Week 8: Discuss whether or not you wish to adopt pets or have children in the future. If so, how do you plan to raise them? What values do you hold? Do you have differing parenting styles? If so, do those differences complement or contradict each other?
Week 9: Host a family dinner with both your families or sets of close friends. If you live apart, call your families and chat about life and love.
Week 10: Discuss how you feel about one another’s families.
Week 11: Play hooky. Do not go to work, do not respond to the cell phone, and do not answer e-mails. Do nothing. Relax. Eat something in a way with each other that you’d never eat in public (you’d be horrified to see how I eat pizza with only family present). Nurture your mutual sense of intimacy and trust. If you can do nothing together and still feel happily content, great!
Week 12: Remember that mental list of “this annoys me about you?” Even if you can’t forget those irritations, forgive or at least promise to forbear them.
Week 13: Think about how you’ve frustrated your partner and find a way to atone, make amends, or compromise.
Week 14: Discuss your shared and separate dreams. Write them down to reconsider in the future.
Week 15: Gifts do not need to cost much. Find a free, yet deeply meaningful and memorable way to reflect your appreciation for each other.
Week 16: Write a love letter or pick a song that best captures the love you feel for your partner.
Week 17: Revisit your memories by composing a written or oral love story. You may even wish to revisit a site that has special meaning for you.
Week 18: Create a list of things you’d like to do together in the future. Be reasonable.
Week 19: Pick something off your list to accomplish or to begin to accomplish.
Week 20: Celebrate. Do something special for your partner.