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

Activity 2: Collaborating To Enhance Your Relationship

Activity time: 30 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Newsprint
  • Easel
  • Markers
  • Low-stick masking tape
  • Newsprint sheet with prepared questions (see Preparation)

Preparation for Activity

Write the following on a sheet of newsprint, leaving room to add to the list:

Essential Collaboration Skills

  • The ability to engage in healthy conflict
  • The ability to juggle divided loyalties
  • The ability to solve problems

Description of Activity

Ask participants to recall the collaborative experience they thought of during the opening guided meditation. Invite volunteers to call out one word or phrase that describes how that experience made them feel. Quickly list the responses on a blank sheet of newsprint. No discussion is necessary. When a variety of words and phrases have been listed, post the sheet on the wall.

Offer these or similar words to focus the activity:

Collaboration within a relationship involves partners actively seeking ways to help each other feel fulfilled. Each supports the other's dreams and works to help the other reach and grow. They pool their resources of knowledge, experience, and skills to more creatively and effectively solve problems. Partners can collaborate most effectively and compassionately when they work together in an atmosphere of trust, respect, and flexibility.

Explain that the activities in this workshop will help couples build collaboration skills in three areas. Post the list of essential collaboration skills that you prepared in advance. Invite participants to name other skills they think facilitate collaboration. Add these skills to the list.

Once participants have generated a list of skills, ask:

  • What are some of the benefits you have experienced when you use these skills?
  • Has anyone ever had the experience of making a wiser decision through collaboration than you would have on your own? If so, how did that work?
  • Has anyone ever had the experience of making a less wise decision through collaboration than you would have on your own? If so, what did you learn from that?
  • What are ways we can use collaboration to bring out the best wisdom of the couple or group, rather than the lowest point of agreement?

Explain that working well collaboratively can generate excitement as partners work toward a shared vision or goal. It can give both individuals an increased sense of empowerment, because they feel confident in the support and encouragement of their partner. At the same time, collaboration can create a more interdependent relationship. With collaboration, both partners have the freedom and ability to solve complex problems, to explore possibilities, and to grow.