One Day Before Your Next Joint Session
1 – At least one day before next joint session, decide which unresolved frustration will be discussed during the upcoming session. The first time, one of you should assume responsibility for suggesting (via text message) the unresolved frustration that you will discuss in the session. If the other disagrees, s/he should text back a counter-proposal. If you are having a hard time agreeing, flip a coin. In subsequent weeks, you can alternate who gets to choose and notify the other via text.
2- There is one area that should be excluded: Unresolved frustration about how your partner acted during a previous disagreement. For example, you might not like the fact that during a disagreement your partner was criticizing, accusing, being defensive, rationalizing, shutting down, walking away, acting high and mighty, having a “tone,”etc.]. This may be your number one source of frustration. In fact, during the argument, you may have stopped arguing about your differences and shifted to arguing about how you were arguing! If you want your partner to change the way he acts during disagreements, complaining to him about it in retrospect won’t get you there. The best way to get your partner to change the way he conducts himself during disagreements is to react effectively — as the disagreement is unfolding — the next time he acts this way.
(Reacting effectively during disagreements is the subject of Chapters 2 and 5, summarized in the Recalibration Protocol and also in the recordings. Your therapist will help each of you individually to strengthen your skills.)
The bottom line: In your upcoming joint session, avoid talking about how your partner acted during the previous disagreement. Instead, prepare to go back to the original topic that sparked your frustrating exchange. Prepare for a “do-over” during the session.
3- Separately, prepare for the upcoming session by:
- Going through the steps of the Recalibration Protocol, determining in retrospect which steps you could have done better back in the previous frustrating exchange.
- Reviewing the Steps for Getting on the Same Page After a Frustrating Exchange, visualizing yourself implementing the formula when you re-visit the topic in your upcoming joint session.