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The following sub-categories show how the VisionCircles methodology may be used to aid the resolution of virtually any situation. You may view all programs in turn or explore freely at your own discretion.


Marital Communication

Step One - Observe

1. What am I saying to myself about the quality of our conversations?
2. What am I thinking, feeling and doing about my concern to improve our communication?
3. What is most important to me in communicating with my spouse?
4. What tendencies am I experiencing most when I think about improving my communication?

Circle One: What am I saying to myself about our quality of communication?

“We’ve been married eight years now and things have been running pretty smoothly. Our two kids are in school…were both working .. I get home early enough from my teaching job to spend time with them … but Mike’s job keeps him away too much. I’m getting that uneasy feeling that things are becoming too routine. We don’t share our thoughts and feelings the way we used to. Maybe… Mike and I are drifting apart. We used to talk more … do things together. The romance … the closeness seems to be fading. Maybe, I’m making too much of this. Maybe, this is all very normal… I don’t know. What am I going to do about this?”

Circle Two: What am I feeling, doing, and thinking about improving my communication with my spouse?

(Pages 29 and following in the workbook will provide more information about each step.)

_____ I feel worried about __________________________
_____ I feel anxious about __________________________
_____ I feel hopeful about __________________________
_____ other _____________________________________

_____ I’m avoiding talking to my spouse about my feelings regarding my concerns.
_____ I’m spending more time sharing my concerns with my friends.
_____ other _____________________________________

_____ I’m giving myself excuses … like, this is normal … to avoid talking to my spouse about it.
_____ I’m assuming it’s not a concern for him.
_____ I’m watering down my expectation about intimacy.
_____ I’m remembering when we shared our inner lives with each other.
_____ other _____________________________________

Circle Three: What are the ideals or values that are most important to me regarding communication?

_____ Intimacy …. closeness in spirit and body …. is important to me.
_____ Mutual underdstanding is important to me.
_____ other _____________________________________

Circle Four: Which tendencies am I experiencing most as I think about improving my communication with my spouse?

_____ confusion (I’m not clear about how to approach my spouse about this.)
_____ dependence (I’m waiting for him to bring up the topic.)
_____ rebellion (I’m angry with myself and my spouse because we’re not confronting this.)
_____ skepticism (I’m losing hope that our communication will improve.)

_____ order (I realize that communication is the glue that strengthens relationships.)
_____ control (I’m beginning to get a handle on this concern.)
_____ system (I see how this concern affects the other areas of my life.)
_____ certainty ( I feel confident and hopeful that I can improve my communication with my spouse.)

Supra (more than) rational
_____ vision (I clearly see that intimacy of body and spirit is the foundation of our marriage.)
_____ freedom (I’m ready and willing to search for ways to improve our communication.)
_____ change (I’m ready to adjust my thinking and behaviors to actualize my vision.)
_____ creativity ( I’m searching for new ways to realize intimate communication.)

Step Two - Sort Out

1. What are the positive and negative behaviors, thinking and emotions in each circle?
2. What do I need to change?

Circle One:

In my self-talk I need to focus on my vision of intimacy. I need to talk to myself more affirmatively about discovering ways to share my thoughts and feelings with my spouse about improving our communication.

Circle Two: Identify negative behaviors, thinking and emotions that I need to change.

Negative behaviors  Positive behaviors
- avoiding to talk to my spouse about my concern
- seeking conversations elsewhere
change to
- talking to my spouse
- planning time to spend with my spouse
Negative thinking  Positive thinking
- giving myself excuses to avoid facing the issue
- assuming that my spouse is not concerned
change to
- concentrate on the importance of intimacy
- focus on the reasonable expectation that
my spouse will respect my concern
Negative emotions  Positive Emotions
- worry
- anxiety
change to
- hopeful
- confidence


Circle Three: Identify and reflect on the ideals (values) related to my concern about communication with my spouse
- I need to focus my attention on the ideal of intimacy.

Circle Four: Identify the irrational tendencies that I need to minimize and the rational and supra-rational tendencies that I need to strengthen
- I need to minimize my confusion about what to do and maximize my vision by focusing on my ideal of intimacy.
- I need to minimize my dependency on waiting for my spouse to say something and maximize my freedom by expressing my feelings.


Step 3 - Connecting Ideals to Practical Ideas

I need to discover practical ideas that will translate the ideal of intimacy into specific actions.

In this step I want to view my concern about communication that I described in Circle One:
- from the vantage point of my supra-rational tendencies of vision and freedom
- from the viewpoint of my rational tendencies of order and control
- from the viewpoint of my ideal of intimacy

To discover the best practical ideas that will help me improve my communication I need to:
- question (eg. Why is intimacy so important to me?)
- use my memory to get in touch with intimate experiences
- use my imagination to think of analogies and thought experiments


Why is communication so important to me? ________________________________________________

Why is intimacy so important to me? _____________________________________________________

What skills do I need to develop to communicate effectively?
____ listening to myself
____ pay attention to body language
____ reflect the content and the emotions of the person talking to me
____ clarify my thoughts before speaking
____ use “I messages” to express my feelings instead of talking about them as things
____ other ______________________________________________________

Memory exercise

Think of a time when you felt intimate and communicative.
At that time: I was (describe behavior) ____________________________________________
I was thinking _____________________________________________________
I was feeling ______________________________________________________

Human communication is like ...

Jazz musicians listening to each other
Conducting a philharmonic orchestra
The organs of the body interacting with each other in feedback loops
Gravity … when the bodies are closer the attraction is stronger

Similarities between above analogies and communication

- Musicians come together to make music; in communicating we are trying to make something happen together such as, intimacy.
- Musicians need to listen to each other; in communicating we need to listen to each other’s feelings and thoughts.
- Musicians have preferences in their music based on talent and interest; in communicating we need to pay attention to the interests and abilities of each other.

Thought experiment

If we set up the right conditions at a time and place without distractions, and if we are doing something that we both enjoy, then we can share our thoughts and feelings.

Some practical ideas that can be deduced from the above exercises:

The feeling of intimacy emerges when we are doing something together, and we are listening to each other.
The feeling of intimacy emerges when we contribute to each other’s growth by responding to each other’s needs.
The feeling of intimacy emerges when we express our vision of what is important to us.

Step 4 - Act

In this step I want to make a plan of action using the above practical ideas to improve the quality of our communication.

Strategy - to set up conditions conducive to doing things together and to sharing thoughts and feelings

Plan of action:
1. During this week I will approach Mike about taking a weekend retreat.
2. I will express my motivation to take time away from the routine, so that we can have time to relax.
3. We will plan our retreat together.
4. In the planning stage I will listen to Mike’s feelings about where he would like to go and what he would like to do.
5. I will express my feelings about slipping into a routine that is cooling our communication.
6. I will ask him if he shares the same concern.

Step 5 - Re-evaluate

1. Assess the results of my plan.

After executing my plan:
I feel _____ less anxious _____ more anxious about the quality of our communication.
I feel _____ more intimate _____ less intimate with my spouse.
I feel _____ more hopeful _____less hopeful about realizing our vision of intimacy.
We _____ agreed _____ disagreed on the importance of paying attention to the quality of our communication and the need to take regular retreats.

2. Making adjustments if I did not experience all the positive results that I expected.

If I have not experienced significant changes in strengthening my rational and supra-rational tendencies regarding my concern about marital communication, then I will review my responses in Steps One and Two to find out if I have assessed by behaviors, emotions and thinking accurately. Then, I will review Step Three to search for more effective practical ideas to improve our communication.