From The Shen Archive: Just 15 minutes can make a big difference

With a number of relationship and communication programs coming up at The Haven this summer and fall, here’s an exercise you may recognize and which can be great to practice in your relationships at home.

This article by Ernie and Cathy McNally was first published on Shen in 2009. 


Do you have 15 minutes to invest in your relationship?

Over time we can find ourselves busy, slowly drifting apart, wishing it were different, and believing “We just don’t have the time”. When we do have the time, we don’t know what to say.

Here is a simple way to use three five-minute sessions to increase and enhance communication with your partner.

  1. Put a clock, watch, or kitchen timer somewhere you can both see it easily.
  2. Decide on a topic. Some examples are ‘What’s gone on since I saw you last’, ‘Family rules I grew up with’, ‘What I like and don’t like about sports, shopping, my job, etc.’, or ‘How I am with authority’.
  3. Decide who will listen, and who will speak for the first five minutes.
  4. If you are speaking – say whatever you want, anything that comes.
  5. If you are listening – settle in, no matter how hard it is, resist the urge to speak, and just listen!
  6. After five minutes, switch speaking and listening roles.
  7. After the second five minutes – dialogue for the last five! Discuss what you heard or saw; questions, wonderings and assumptions that came up for you; add more information – and if you have more time, great!

With this 15-minute exercise, whatever the topic, if you pause, listen with a willingness to learn more, and speak with a desire to be more known, you will find your relationship deepening and opening to new possibilities – 15 minutes at a time.


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