Couples that have been together for a long time eventually develop entrenched behaviour patterns that can make their relationship stale, boring but very safe. Two become one with every little decision, everything is compromised and resentment takes hold. That unspoken resentment can take the form of sabotaging the other later.

For instance one partner might insist on not tipping in restaurants and not paying bills until the very last moment, to save every last cent on interest. The other partner agrees to go along with this agrees but privately buys expensive lunches and clothes. Or one partner agrees to go to the other’s parents place for Sunday lunch but at the last minute develops a stomach upset and pulls out. Does this sort of sabotaging sound familiar in some way?

Couples become easily aware of this dynamic when it is pointed out and it can be very easy to correct this with some simple new skills and at the same time put some humour into it.


In week one write down what you would really like your partner to do for you. Be very specific like: take out the garbage, give you a neck massage, cook a vegetarian meal once a week, etc. Next write a list of also what you think they would like you to do for them. Keep a diary and in the second week do one thing a day what you think they would like happen. Do not show each other the list until the end of the second week.

At the end of the second week sit down and each partner tells the other what they liked that happened to them. Then swap notes and every day the third week take one thing from their list and do it for them. At the end of week 3 tell each other how it felt and have an honest feedback session.

If you don’t want to take 3 weeks to change things, write down a list of what you want the other to do for you; initiate sex, buy the fruit and vegetables, buy a sex toy, visit your sister for lunch, etc. Place your paper slips in a jar and discuss each item by listening well. Try to find a compromise or resolution for every topic.

Relationships all get in ruts of established behaviour patterns. Assumptions are easily made on what the other partner wants and expects. So reflect on what you think is the current dynamic in your relationship is and how it became established and then play this ‘pleasing the other game’.

You will be really surprised how this simple fun activity can change the whole way your relationship functions. You will find it very interesting to discover what they secretly would like you to do for them. And wouldn’t you really want to know?


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