Sometimes in rush of our daily lives, we don't even realize we are mad about something. Or sad. We shove everything down just to get through the day. And it builds up. That's why one of my favorite "P.A.I.R.S." tool is "Mad, Sad, Scared, Glad."
Here's some back-ground. It's been almost two months, since my husband and I attended the four-day "Marriage Enrichment Class" taught by the Amazing Duo of Ellen and Chuck Purcell. (If you are living in driving distance of VA, check them out. One of the couples in our class, drove 8 hours to attend their class. At the end of the class, the couple said it was totally worth the drive).
P.A.I.R.S. has been around for 30 years or so and is known and respected by countless therapists (many of whom are trained in P.A.I.R.S.).
I highly recommend attending a workshop…if there is one in your area. But, they are few and far between...so that’s why I’m periodically sharing some of my favorite P.A.I.R.S. tools.
Like the “Daily Temperature Readings," "Mad, Sad, Scared, Glad," feels contrived and artificial in the beginning. But once they become part of your daily vocabulary, you stop feeling so self-conscious.
To do this exercise, it's important to remember to...
1. Always ask your partner if they have ten minutes to do the exercise. If they don't, ask them why and when would be a good time.
2. Sit in the "leveling position." (Both people facing each other, knees touching, looking each other in the eyes and holding hands).
3. Stick to the format of Mad, Sad, Scared, Glad.
4. Save the discussions until afterwards.
5. Hug, Kiss, Give a little Appreciation when you are finished.
Mad, Sad, Scared, Glad Format
1. Person # 1 asks "What are you mad about?" (doesn't have to be about their partner, could be about anything).
2. Person #2 says "I am mad about..."
3. Person #1 repeats back what they heard. If correct, Person #2 says okay. If not correct, Person #2 clarifies and Person #1 attempts again.
4. Repeat Steps 1-3.
5. Person # 1 asks "Is there anything else you are mad about?"
6. If Person # 2 says there is nothing, then you move on to sad.
7. Person #1 asks "What are you sad about?"
8. Repeat Steps 2-6.
9. Person # 1 asks "What are you scared about?"
10. Repeat Steps 2-6.
11. Person #1 asks "What are you glad about?"
13. Switch roles. Person #2 does all the asking and repeating back, while Person #1 does all the sharing.
***Many couples alternate daily Mad, Sad, Scared, Glad with Daily Temperature Readings. (The whole point being, if you airing out your emotions on a regular basis, you will be less likely to have super big blow-outs).
Phew...you got that? It looks more complicated in print than it is in real-life. It's very, very easy to do once you try it a few times.
This exercise only takes ten minutes or so but you feel so much more connected to your partner than spending 2 hours in front of the T.V. together. Try it a few times and tell me what you think.
During our workshop, I was taken aback by the surprising things that came out of my mouth when we were doing Mad, Sad, Scared, Glad. I didn't even KNOW I was feeling those things (which is surprising since I'm a pretty introspective kind of person).
I think this is a particularly powerful tool for partners who struggle to express their feelings. They have a safe space to express exactly what they are feeling. And they are being listened to with empathy. And that's all any of us really want, you know?
Hope you are able to glean a little something from this post. If you missed them, go check out my other P.A.I.R.S. posts on a Daily Temperature Reading and Caring Behaviors.