How to reconnect with your partner using a simple script tool...

Psychosexual therapist Cate Mackenzie explains a communication exercise, pioneered by coach Hedy Schleifer, to build connection, openness and authenticity between disconnected couples

by Psychologies


3 minute read

When one or both partners are not fully present, they are ‘high desire’ or ‘low desire’ in terms of connection. The high desire partner is the octopus and the low desire partner is the turtle – pursuer and distancer. We can all be either.

In therapy, an octopus says: ‘We don’t connect and it’s their fault!’ Turtle will huff: ‘Yes, it’s all me.’ In bridging, partners take turns to work through the script, below. It encourages both to open their hearts and connect, while listening and looking into the other person’s eyes. For some, it may be the first time they’ve allowed themselves to be vulnerable. The speaker is ‘the host’ and the listener is ‘the visitor’.

How to reconnect: a simple but powerful script

Host: I would like to invite you to the neighbourhood of… (This could be any scenario that is causing pain or a block in communication, say, ‘my childhood’.)

Visitor: I hear you say you would like to invite me to the neighbourhood of… (repeats the other person’s words, say, ‘your childhood’). I am with you. Is there more?

Host: I feel…

Visitor (validates): So that makes sense to me… (Validate the other person as much as you can in words.) Now, I am curious: What do you feel about what I just said?

Host: I feel…

Visitor: Can you give me a snapshot of what these feelings remind you of?

Host: I see a picture of… (Describes this.)

Visitor (validates): So that makes sense to me… (Validate the other person as much as you can in words.)

Host: States what they would like more of in their life.

  • I would always want…
  • I would never want…

Visitor: Tells a story about the other person by relaying the pieces of information they have just heard.

Visitor and host: Appreciate and thank each other and explain what the space between them feels like now.

Image: Getty