Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Principled Commitment: An Adult Program on Building Strong Relationships

Activity 4: Rights In Relationship

Activity time: 30 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Writing paper (at least one sheet per couple)
  • Pens or pencils
  • Tables or hard surfaces for writing
  • Optional: Copies of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (see Preparation)

Preparation for Activity

  • Set up tables, or find books or other hard surfaces for writing.
  • Optional: Print copies of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (up to one copy per couple). These can be used for participants' reference as they think of rights they'd like to uphold in their relationship.

Description of Activity

Invite participants to pair up with their partners. Distribute writing paper and pens or pencils. Introduce the activity using these or similar words:

The concepts of human rights and human dignity go hand in hand. The United States Bill of Rights and the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights are statements of how a government ought to respect its citizens and preserve their dignity. Movements that fight for civil and human rights often do so to protect the dignity of people who have been marginalized and oppressed.

What rights do you want to affirm in your relationship - rights that can help each of you uphold one another's worth and dignity? Some examples might be the right to ask for help, the right to say no, the right to honest communication, the right to build friendships . . . the list goes on.

I invite you to work with your partner to generate a list of rights for your relationship. These can be rights you already affirm, consciously or unconsciously. They can also be rights you'd like to establish for the future. Your list of rights can be helpful down the road as you develop your couple covenants.

If you've printed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, show participants where they can find a copy for their reference.

After twenty minutes of work in couples, ask the group to re-gather. Discuss with participants:

  • How was that exercise for you?
  • Was it easy to think of rights?
  • Would any couple like to share a "favorite" right they came up with?
  • What from this activity can help you in treating one another with dignity?

Encourage couples to continue discussing rights in the coming weeks, especially if they found some controversies in their discussion. Talking about these controversies can be fruitful and helpful in developing a shared understanding of the relationship.