Couple’s Sculpting Exercise

Libby Gilbertson, ABD, MEd, LMFT, Director of Quality Assurance

Posted by: Libby Gilbertson
ABD, MEd, LMFT, Director of Quality Assurance
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Couples Sculpting Exericse

Are you and your partner in need of a check up for a better understanding about the status of your relationship? We inspect our cars every year, but forget to reevaluate our relationships as time goes by. No matter how long you have been with your partner or what type of relationship you choose to be in, the activity can help you see where you are at in your current space and then define where you would like to be.

Exercise:

Taking turns, one partner will sculpt the other as if they are made of clay and completely malleable. Position your partner into a shape of the way you see them. It may be intimidating to begin, but there is no right or wrong way to complete the sculpt. Every couple is unique and each person within the couple has their own perspective.

A lot of emotions will come up during this activity. At first it may seem silly and uncomfortable, but once you hold the sculpt it can bring up your underlying feelings about what it feels like for each of you in this relationship. The purpose of the sculpt is to facilitate communication through the visualization of the space and energy present between you and your partner.

Examples:

If you feel really close to your partner you may place yourself sitting together, hugging. An example of someone feeling like the other blames them a lot could be positioning them as standing with their arm and finger pointed out towards you. After you have them in the place that feels most true to your experience of the person, position yourself in reference to them how you feel. Hold this for 1 minute without talking.

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Following the activity, ask yourself these questions. If you feel comfortable push yourself to discuss them with your partner.

  • How did you decide who went first?
  • How similar or different were each of your perspectives?
  • What did you learn about yourself?
  • What did you learn about your partner?
  • What roles did each of you play for the other one?
    • Supportive equals
    • One above the other showing a power difference
    • One person smaller more like parent/child
    • Distancer/pursuer
    • Withdrawn
    • So close you look like one
  • How much space was between you? Why do you think this happened?
  • Were you touching? What does the touch imply?
  • Where were you looking?
  • What did your body feel like in the position you were in?
  • What do you feel in your body now?
  • What feelings were brought up for you?
  • When have you felt this way before?
  • What was challenging?
  • What came easily for you?
  • What made sense about your partner’s perspective?
  • What still confuses you?

Now switch partners and repeat. Hold for 1 minute and then review the same questions from the second partner's perspective.

After each partner has gone and you have asked yourselves the questions. Position your partner the way it felt you first met. Hold for 1 minute each, then review the questions.

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Finally, position your partner the way you would like their relationship to be. This represents the ideal image of how you would like your relationship to be. Hold this position for 1 minute. Switch partners and repeat.

  • How have your sculpts evolved?
    • From when you met to the current scuplt?
    • Current to ideal?
    • When you first met to the ideal?
  • What has shifted over time?
  • How have different life events restructured your sculpt?
  • What emotional reactions came up with each phase?
  • What are ways each of you can work towards your ideal?
  • How similar or different are each of your perspectives? Why is that?
  • What feels challenging?
  • What feels achievable?

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Advanced couples:

If you can take a video recording of yourselves in the proces,s watching yourselves do this activity will give you an objective look into your dynamic.

Another exercise can give you a deeper understanding of the interactive dance that plays out in your relationship. Each partner takes a turn playing their partner's role by acting out movements, but still without talking. This can show you even more about the give and take that takes place between you and your partner.

Healthy couples tend to have more flexibility in the roles that they play as different stressors impact them, whereas couples who are struggling may find themselves reacting in the same negative patterns no matter what problem they face. These roles may have worked for you in the past, but have lost their effectiveness over time or across different situations. If you find this to be true of your relationship, it would be beneficial to see a professional to shake up your cycle and help you step out of the rigid roles you participate in to find better solutions in the future. Call us at the Center for Growth to schedule an appointment - (267) 324-9564.