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Jeff Lutes

Take Your Partner's Temperature

Filed By Jeff Lutes | January 31, 2012 5:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality
Tags: gay and lesbian relationships, PAIRS, relationship advice, same-sex couples

Last week Seal and Heidi Klum announced they are divorcing after seven years of marriage. Some reports suggest that Seal had an anger problem. Whether that's the case or not, the couple told People Magazine they still love each other but have "grown apart." Sadly, this is consistent with what iStock_000000917083XSmall.jpgresearch shows as the number one reason couples (gay or straight) split up - a slow dissolution of the friendship between partners.

How can couples in the LGBTQQI community reduce the chances that this will happen to them? How do you nurture and attend to your love relationship in an intentional way, while also juggling careers, home maintenance, hobbies, civic duties, relationships with friends and family of origin, finances, parenting, etc? How do you keep the spark alive, minimize resentment, and reduce the number of toxic fights that tear at your connection?

For the past two years I have been prescribing a nifty little tool to many of the couples in my psychotherapy practice and the majority of them report that it has helped tremendously. It's called the "Daily Temperature Reading" (or DTR) and was originally developed by the groundbreaking author and psychotherapist, Virginia Satir. Satir contributed greatly to the understanding of family systems, self-esteem, and human interaction.

The professionals at the Pairs Foundation have refined Satir's original DTR into an exercise that couples can complete in about 15-20 minutes. The exercise guides couples to share on five items that research shows are key to maintaining a strong connection and reducing misunderstanding; Appreciations, New Information, Puzzles, Concerns with Recommendations, and Wishes/Hopes/Dreams.

The DTR is even available as a free iPhone App. Take a peak at this short video that quickly explains the process:

One quick disclaimer: The screen saver of the DTR App has the image/outline of a heterosexual couple, but I have found the staff at the PAIRS Foundation (www.pairs.com) to be inclusive and affirming of the LGBTQQI community in their classes.

While PAIRS encourages daily practice (as the name implies), many of the couples I've had the honor of working with report significant results even if they are only able to do the DTR a couple of times during the week and once on the weekend. The tool provides a structured "check-in" that helps each partner know what is going on in the heart and mind of the other. Having that information helps couples avoid, or at least minimize, the number of unexpected misunderstandings that lead to hurt feelings and resentment.

Give it a try and let me know what you think!

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