Exits. We’ve all got them. These are activities we engage in to avoid intimacy with our partners. There are “hard” exits like divorce or insanity and “soft” exits like overeating or watching too much T.V.

Why would we avoid intimacy with our partners?

According to Harville Hendrix, it ties back to childhood where we didn’t get all of our needs met, and we learned dysfunctional ways to avoid recreating this pain.

However, by choosing to be in a conscious relationship, you can work through these dysfunctional behaviors and create intimacy like you’ve never experienced before. And it’s quite healing!

Which activities are the problems?

I’m not saying you have to eliminate activities that you genuinely enjoy and bring you pleasure. But if certain activities are getting in the way of you and your partner consistently connecting, then it’s time to deemphasize them. If you really get honest with yourself, you can discern the harmful exits pretty quickly.

Mike and I reviewed our exits and here’s where we netted out.

Mike’s top exits:

  1. Not being present
  2. Camping out on the Internet
  3. Spending too much time on art projects

My top exits:

  1. Talking on the phone at inopportune times
  2. Doing big, complicated cooking projects
  3. Obsessing about my health

Good news. There’s an easy exercise to help identify, reduce, or eliminate harmful exits. This is from Hendrix’s book, Getting the Love You Want.

Exit Exercise

What you’ll need: One hour, your partner, four sheets of blank paper, pens.

Both you and your partner take two sheets of paper and pen. For 10 minutes, write down your exits. It’s important to be rigorously honest.

As a reference, some exits could include: being too involved with church, spending more time with your children, reading romance novels, shopping, being on Facebook, etc.

Again, there is nothing wrong with any of these activities, it’s only if they become a buffer to having intimacy with your partner.

After you write out your exits, take the other sheet of blank paper and spend 10 minutes writing down what you perceive to be your partner’s exits.

Share your lists with each other. Do this in a kind way. No name-calling, yelling, or blaming. If communication is a problem for you, stay tuned to this series, as we’ll be sharing strategies for healthy dialogue.

Now update your list with your partner’s inputs. Spend some time circling which exits you are willing to limit or completely eliminate for one week.

Take it one week at a time. Reduce or eliminate one exit and devote your extra time and energy to your relationship.

At the end of the week, talk about it. Did it feel any different? Are you connected in a different way? Fine tune as needed and try another week.

This is an ongoing process that never really ends. In fact, Mike and I learned a lot by revisiting this topic for this post. As you continue practicing this technique, you’ll grow healthier and more vital as a couple.

Are you with me? Ready to close some exits?

Once we close our exits, we’re ready to define our relationship vision, the topic of our next video.

▷▷▷ Part 5: Create A Relationship Vision

Learn more about IMAGO and find a therapist at: https://harvilleandhelen.com/