A good marriage may be enriched, a shaky marriage improved and a troubled marriage might be saved, says counselor James Kilgore, if partners would take 15 minutes a day for one month to work toward revitalizing the relationship.
A couple can begin Kilgore's "do-it-yourself marriage month" on the first available Saturday. For the concluding exercise -- which may take longer than the others -- Kilgore suggests planning an "escape weekend." Notes should be taken and saved. WEEK ONE: Self-Disclosure
1. Who are you? List 20 things that describe you. For example, I am a man (or woman), a father, a sensitive person, a great joke-teller.
2. How do others see you? Pick 10 significant people in your life. Write down how each of them sees you. My employer/employes see me as . . . My mother sees me as . . .
3. What do you consider (besides people) to be the essentials of your life? Imagine your home is on fire, and quickly list the 10 things you would rescue.
4. If your physician told you that you have 6 weeks to live, how would you spend the next 42 days? WEEK TWO: Sharing
1. Take turns sharing what you remember about your initial impressions of your partner. It may be the first time you met or your first date. What attracted you most? What attracts you now?
2. Choose one or two people who were the most influential in your life before the age of 12. Describe these people to your partner and tell why they were important.
3. Pick one or two of the happiest memories from your school days and share the experience.
4. In your premarital years, what were your one or two most embarrassing moments? Describe the events and talk about your feelings. WEEK THREE: Self-Disclosure
1. Read your notes from the first two weeks' exercises. Are you seeing trends in your thinking? Are your feelings about yourself or your spouse changing?
2. Concentrate on your major life assignment -- your job and/or family role. What are its most satisfying factors? What elements are the most discouraging and unfulfilling?
3. List and describe the interests you might pursue if you were free of the obligations and commitments of marriage.
4. List two or three things you would like to change about yourself -- physically, emotionally, socially or spiritually. Why?
5. What items in your spouse's life would you like to change? Make a list of your partner's irritating habits, basic conflicts or undeveloped talents. You need not show this list to your spouse. WEEK FOUR: Sharing
1. Tell your spouse 10 things you think he or she can give to you, in order of priority. Be as concrete as "a new shirt" or as abstract as "time alone." Then list 10 things you can give.
2. List five strengths you have as a couple. Don't overlook your children, your physical looks (are you a handsome pair?), your shared beliefs.
3. Talk about at least two areas you feel your spouse should consider for improvement. It may help to begin, "I think you would be a happier person if . . . "
4. Discuss thoroughly how you feel your life would be different if you were divorced. Concluding Weekend
Let each partner write a paragraph or two about what he or she has learned in the past 29 days. Then write about what you think your spouse has experienced.
Finally, try to summarize in a paragraph the present state of your relationship. Exchange the papers and read silently. Now talk it over.