What’s Wrong With My Partner/ Our Relationship? And What Happens When I Dwell On It?(From ACT With Love, Ch 1)The purpose of this worksheet is to get clear about the most common judgments and criticisms you makeabout your partner – and the effect it has on you and your relationship when you get caught up in them,dwell on them, buy into them. Over the next few days, take note of all the thoughts you have about what iswrong with your relationship or your partner. Each day, take a few minutes to jot some of these thoughtsdown, and reflect on what happens to your mood, your attitude, and your relationship when you get allcaught up in these thoughts?Thoughts about what’s wrong with mypartner/ our relationshipfrom ‘ACT With Love’How does my mood changewhen I get caught up in/ dwellon these thoughts? Russ Harris 2009www.act-with-love.comWhen I buy into or dwell onthese thoughts, what effectdoes it have on myrelationship?

Identify the DRAIN In Your Relationship (From ACT With Love, Ch 2)D – Disconnection, R – Reactivity, A – Avoidance, I – Inside your mind, N – Neglecting valuesDisconnection: How do I disconnect from my partner? (E.g. do I get bored, irritable, stop listening? Do Igo cold and distant? Do I close off/shut down? Am I distracted rather than present?)How does my partner disconnect from me?Reactivity: How do I react impulsively or automatically, without stopping to consider what I am doing?(E.g. do I yell, snap, swear, storm off, say hurtful things, criticize, blame, accuse, sneer, jeer?)How does my partner react impulsively or automatically?Avoidance: How do I try to avoid or get rid of my painful feelings that are related to the issues in thisrelationship? (E.g. do I use drugs, alcohol, food, cigarettes? Do I withdraw or stay away from mypartner? Do I try to distract myself with TV, computers, books, going out? Do I avoid talking to mypartner about the issue?)How does my partner seem to avoid or get rid of his painful feelings?Inside Your Mind: How do I get trapped inside my mind? (E.g. do I worry about the future, dwell on thepast, relive old hurts, rehash old arguments, stew over everything that’s wrong with my partner? Do Iget caught up in judgment, blame, criticism? Do I get caught up in thoughts of rejection, betrayal,abandonment, or being controlled?)How does my partner seem to get trapped inside his mind?Neglecting Values: What core values do I neglect, forget about, or act inconsistently with, when I amdisconnected, reactive, avoidant, or inside my mind? (E.g. do I lose touch with values such as beingloving, kind, caring, generous, compassionate, supportive, fun-loving, easygoing, sensual, affectionate?)What core values does my partner seem to neglect, forget about, or act inconsistently with?from ‘ACT With Love’ Russ Harris

If you’re unwilling to work at your relationshipIf you’re not willing to work on your relationship, then you’re effectively choosing to prolong yourdifficulties or make them worse. If this is where you’re at right now, then take a few days to keep a dailyrecord. At the end of each day, fill in the chart.Notice the effect of “giving up” on your health and vitality.Notice what this choice to “give up” is costing you—in terms of emotional pain, wasted time, wastedmoney, wasted energy, and further damage to your relationship.Notice any actions you take that seem to improve your relationship or enhance your own well-beingand vitality.from ‘ACT With Love’ Russ Harris

If you’re unwilling to work at your relationshipMany people don’t feel like working on their relationship. You might think it all seems too hard or it’spointless, or you shouldn’t have to, or the fault is all with your partner. The problem is, if you’re notwilling to work on your relationship, then you’re effectively choosing to prolong your difficulties ormake them even worse. So if this is where you’re at right now, then take a few days to notice what thisattitude is costing you. At the end of each day, fill in the chart.How did refusing to work on myrelationship – thereby making itworse – affect my health andvitality today?from ‘ACT With Love’ ch 3What did refusing to work on myrelationship today cost me in termsof emotional pain, wasted time,wasted money, wasted energy, andfurther damage? Russ Harris 2009Did I do anything today thatseemed to improve myrelationship? What was it?

How Did You Meet Your Partner?How did you first meet your partner?Aside from looks, what did you find most attractive about him/her?What personal qualities did you most admire about him/ her?What did you enjoy doing together?What did your partner do that made those times enjoyable?Describe one of the most enjoyable days you’ve ever spent together. Where were you? What didyou do? How did you interact? What sort of things did you say and do to each other? How was yourbody language?What do you miss most about the early days of your relationship?What do you see as your partner’s greatest strengths, best personal qualities?On Reflection:Can you contact any sense of warmth or appreciation for your partner? Or do you merely see him asa burden, an obstacle, a hassle?What happens when you take time to reflect on her strengths and positive qualities? Do you see herat all differently?Do you find it hard to acknowledge his positive attributes because you are so focused on his flawsand weaknesses?from ‘ACT With Love’ ch 5 Russ Harris

You’re Both HurtingTake a few minutes to write about the major issues in your relationship. Do this with nonjudgmentaldescription rather than with harsh judgment and criticism. For example, write, “Greg does not oftenhelp out with the housework” instead of “Greg is a lazy bastard.” If you notice a harsh judgmentslipped past you, just make a mental note of it. Silently say to yourself, “Aha! There goes ajudgment!” or “There’s judging!” Then cross it out and write something nonjudgmental instead.Write about the painful emotions you have experienced as a result of these issues. What painfulthoughts and feelings have you struggled with? If the main feelings you notice are anger, fury,resentment, rage, or frustration, then see if you can “go deeper.” These are typically surfaceemotions. Beneath the angry exterior, you will usually find something like hurt, sadness, guilt,shame, fear, rejection, loneliness,Acknowledge, openly and honestly, that this relationship has been painful. You have suffered. It hasnot been easy. Given what you have been through, it’s completely natural to feel the way you do.Now this is the most challenging part: take a few minutes to reflect on how your partner has alsosuffered. He or she may never have spoken about this to you, so you may have to use yourimagination here. Think about what it must be like for your partner to be on the receiving end ofyour complaints and criticisms. If she tends to cut off, go quiet, and withdraw, then what must thatbe like for her—hiding away and closing down in order to cope? If she tends to brood, dwell, andrehash the past, how painful must that be for her—suffering again and again by replaying old eventsthat can never be undone? If he gets angry and yells, then how unpleasant must that feel for him tobe eaten up with anger and resentment? Surely there is no joy or pleasure involved; how much musthe suffer, lost in his rage?from ‘ACT With Love’ ch 5 Russ Harris

How I try to control my partnerSpend some time reflecting on everything you have ever tried doing to control your partner—then assess how effective it was in the short run and what it cost you in the long run.What my partnersays or does that Idon’t likeWhat I have said or done to Did my actionsstop or change mychange mypartner’s behaviorpartner’sbehavior in thelong term?Did my actions enhance and enrichour relationship in the long term? Ifnot, what has this cost in terms ofhealth, vitality, pain, wasted time,bitterness, anger, regret etc.From ‘ACT With Love’ ch 7 Russ Harris 2009 www.act‐with‐

Who do I want to be in this relationship?Imagine that it’s ten years from now, and you have gathered together your closest friends andrelatives to celebrate the last ten years of your relationship. This could be a small intimate affair inyour family home or a plush affair in a fancy restaurant. It’s your imagination, so make it look howyou want.Imagine that your partner stands up to make a speech about the last ten years of your lifetogether—about what you stand for, what you mean to him/her, and the role that you have playedin his/her life. Imagine your partner saying whatever it is, deep in your heart, you would most like tohear. (This is not about what they would realistically say—it’s about what, in an ideal world, youwould love to hear them say.) Imagine them describing your character, your strengths, and the waysin which you have contributed to the relationship.Close your eyes now and take a couple of minutes to imagine this as vividly as possible, then writeanswers to the questions below.What sort of personal qualities do you want to bring into play in your relationship?What character strengths do you wish to employ or develop?How do you want to behave or act on an ongoing basis?What do you want to stand for as a partner?Suppose we asked your partner to describe the ten things he or she most appreciates about yourcharacter or personality. In the ideal world, what would you most love your partner to say?from ‘ACT With Love’ chapter 7 Russ Harris

Values-Guided ActionsWrite about little things you could do – simple, easy values-guided actions -- to enhance yourrelationship. Following are a few ideas to get you started. Although we’re focusing here on the threecore values of connecting, caring, and contribution, obviously these are not the only importantvalues in a relationship, so please add others of your own.Words: What can you say to your partner that promotes a deeper sense of connection or shows himthat you care? How about “I love you,” “I’m here for you,” “Let me know how I can be of support,”or “I appreciate having you in my life”? Even simple phrases such as “Thank you,” “I’m sorry,” or“Please forgive me” can go a long way if said genuinely. Consider text messages, cards, and e-mailsas well as the spoken word.Gestures: What actions can you take that contribute to your partner’s health, well-being, andvitality? This might include anything from cooking dinner, fixing the car, or organizing a night out, tohelping your partner with her chores or tasks, or giving small gifts such as flowers or CDs.Physicality: How can you facilitate connection and caring physically? Consider hugging, kissing,holding hands, stroking hair, back rubs, sitting together on the couch, and so on.from ‘ACT With Love’ chapter 7 Russ Harris

How To Create Psychological SmogThis exercise shows you what happens when you hold on tightly to your thoughts, turning them intoa thick “psychological smog”. Pull your journal or worksheet out once again, and using the examplesin chapter 8 as a guide, write down as many “smoggy” thoughts as you can identify:ShouldsNo Point TryingIf OnlyPainful PastScary FutureReason GivingJudgmentsI Know WhyDeep-Seated FearsOkay, so now you’ve got a long list of “smoggy thoughts.” The next step is to read them through andbuy into them as much as you can. Give them all your attention, dwell on them, believe them, gettotally absorbed in them. The aim is to make the psychological smog as thick as it can possibly be, toget so absorbed in these thoughts that you basically lose touch with everything else. Do this for atleast a minute, then answer the questions below.When we get lost in the smog, we soon stumble into the quicksand of painful emotions; so what areyou feeling right now?How do you feel toward your partner right now?Does dwelling on these thoughts help to improve your relationship – or make it worse?Right now, do you feel like you want to act on your values—to care for and connect with yourpartner? Or do you feel more like giving up, running away, or lashing out?from ‘ACT With Love’ chapter 8 Russ Harris

The Values GapSuppose a miracle happened and your partner suddenly turned into your perfect “soul mate”: nofaults at all, no annoying habits, always there for you, able to meet your every need, want, anddesire . If that happened, then how would you change? Please take your time to seriously considerthis and write your answers below.What would you stop, start, do more of and less of?What sort of partner would you try to become? What sort of personal qualities would you develop?What attitude would you cultivate toward your partner?How would you speak to him/her when you wanted something?How would you respond to him/her when they were in pain?How would you treat him/her when they made a mistake or screwed up?Is there a gap between the way you’d ideally like to behave as a partner – the values you’d like tolive by -- and the way that you actually are behaving?What is stopping you from living by your values right now?What do you fear might happen if you did start to live more by your values?What do you think needs to happen first before you can start living more by your values?Do you believe your partner should change before you do? If so, what do you expect your partner todo?from ‘ACT With Love’ chapter 8 Russ Harris

The judgmental mind—part 1So what does your mind say to you when it really wants to beat you up? When your mind turns intojudge, jury, and executioner—when it lays out all the evidence about what’s wrong with you, judgesyou as not good enough, and sentences you to suffer—what does that sound like? If someone couldlisten in to your thoughts, what would they hear your mind saying?Take a moment to jot down some of the things yo