Couple having fun role play

Role Play: A Quick Way to Improve Your Marriage

Role play is the effective alternative to talking about problems with your spouse, that brings improvement rather than conflict.

improve your relationship with role play
You can improve your relationship using role play and have fun at the same time.

When you use role play with your spouse, you directly put into practice a new way of behaving toward each other. This is far better than the indirect route of trying to convince your spouse to behave in a way you like more.

Most people try to talk with their spouse about problems when tensions are high. This only leads to more tension and more problems. Because role play is done at a time when you are getting along well, there is no tension. It can even be fun. 

Simply put, role play is “play acting” a different way of doing things than you usually do. It can be done by just you or you and your spouse at the same time. It doesn’t lock either of you into changing, but is just a little experiment to see if a new way of interacting would work better.

An example of how to use role play to help your marriage:

The situation

A long time ago, my wife and I practiced role playing what I should do when she interrupts me while I am using the computer. Before the role playing, my lovely wife would come behind me and put her arm around my neck in kind of a headlock position. She was being affectionate, but it rendered me unable to move, and was somewhat uncomfortable for me.

Requesting role play

My usual response was to wait it out. I know a good martial art move to deal with this, but considered that wasn’t the best response. But, my “waiting it out” was also not what my wife was wanting. I asked her if we could use role play to make this situation better for both of us (being careful not to complain and to make it positive).

If she had not agreed, I would not have asked again at that time. However, she did agree.

Role reversal

Then I asked her to sit at my computer as I had been. I told her I would do to her what she did to me. I wanted her to show me what she would like me to do in that situation. I came behind her, and put my arm around her neck the way she had been doing with me. Then I said, “Show me what you would like me to do when you do this to me.”

Demonstration by spouse

She thought for a moment, then turned the chair around and stood up to face me. I was holding her loosely enough that she could do that. “What’s next?” I asked. Thinking more, she said, “Hello,” and kissed my neck before bursting out laughing. I laughed with her. It was a fun exercise. Then, I said, “Let’s stop here and just practice up to this part.”

Role reversal 2

Then we traded places and I sat at my computer while she came up behind me and grabbed me, though not as tightly as she had been doing. I turned my chair around, stood up, said “Hello,” kissed her neck, and then burst out laughing as she had (we have a lot of silliness in our relationship work). Then we did it again without the laughing outburst.

Role reversal 3 with additional step

Then we traded places again. She sat down at my computer and we repeated the exercise. This time, after she kissed my neck, she continued to embrace me and went another step, by asking me, “What shall we do?”

Role reversal 4, practicing the additional step

We traded places yet again. I sat at my desk, she put her arm around my neck, I turned around in my chair, stood up, gently kissed her neck several times, continued to hold her and in my best sexy voice asked, “What shall we do?”

It probably sounds more complicated than it was because it takes a lot of words to do what we can simply show. If instead of doing role play, my wife and I had talked about our expectations and discomforts it could have created a big problem where only a little one existed.

Couples usually make their relationships worse by talking about problems rather than working on enhancing the relationship. Talking is only helpful for miscommunication. Once differences are clear, further talking about them only creates more distance.

Instant relationship improvement

Role play is brief, specific, memorable, and positive. It fosters empathy and understanding without any needy behaviors. Having your partner demonstrate the response he or she would like you to have, by reversing roles, can bring immediate results and relationship enhancement.

12 Success tips for improving your relationship with role play

  1. The best way to introduce any new idea to someone is by appealing to their interests rather than your own. Wait for some change that might benefit your spouse before trying this technique.
  2. You can also start by role playing a date, where you behave the way you would like your spouse to behave.
  3. Role playing should be fun. If your partner tenses up, then try again at some other time. Don’t push on.
  4. Role playing is a good way to practice any new skill. For example, as a student I used to role play being a therapist with other students who pretended to be clients.
  5. Do not criticize or remind your partner of past negative behavior.
  6. If the new behavior is long or complicated, practice only part of it at a time. Trying to make too many changes, too quickly, is one of the reasons people have difficulty improving their relationships.
  7. You can role play at home how your spouse wants you to behave in a social situation.
  8. Role play is not costume play. If you want to dress up like superheroes for your sexual adventures with your spouse, that is up to you. That is not what this technique is about, however.
  9. When working with your partner have him or her switch roles with you to show you how they would like you to be.
  10. Be willing to make your partner feel good about his or her role playing, no matter how lousy they actually are at it. One of the keys to a happy relationship is making your partner feel loved and accepted just as they are. That will actually help them to improve.
  11. Be willing to improve your relationship by doing things that are not natural for you, as long as they don’t violate your morality or harm your marriage. 
  12. Don’t gloat. If role playing shows your spouse his or her unreasonable behavior, don’t make your spouse feel bad about it. Never get satisfaction out of making your spouse feel wrong.

I am always ready for my wife’s ideas and she is for mine. She is my girlfriend and I enjoy doing all kinds of things with her. We want to be great for each other. Role playing is a perfect fit for that.

Role play ideas for marriage improvement

What would your spouse like you to do better? Is it the way you respond to questions? Well, then use role play so your spouse can demonstrate how he or she would like you to respond. Is it the way that you respond when touched? Is it some kind of behavior initiation like doing an activity, having, sex, or planning an activity? Have your spouse show you, in behavior, how he or she would like you to do that.

You can also ask your spouse to show you how he or she would like you to respond when you are criticized, blamed, or ignored. This is a more advanced form of role play that you should only do if your relationship is basically good and you have successfully used role play for lighter things. Just as with positive things, have a good attitude and don’t gloat. Stop immediately and give your spouse a hug and a kiss if things start to go wrong.

Strive to never do anything to hurt your spouse, even if you think he or she deserves it.

Behavior change leads to relationship improvement

What I have taught you here is a marriage enhancement technique that won’t work if you and your spouse have significant conflict. If you have significant problems, learning to change the way you interact with your spouse will bring the best results.

Marriage coaching is a good place for one spouse to learn behaviors for ending conflict and re-interesting another spouse in the relationship. Marriage counseling does not work for such a divided couple. It just further divides the couple and often ends in amicable divorce.

Marriage coaching is only for one person. It is not a couple’s approach. Working collaboratively when your spouse is unmotivated will prevent improvement and will create more distance.

Do not try to persuade an unmotivated spouse to work together with you. Resentful or reluctant participation is worse than no participation at all.

Marriage coaching can help you to make changes in yourself that will create more desire in your spouse to be with you and to treat you well. I have been helping people to do just that for nearly 30 years. If you would like to work with me, I would be happy to help.

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