5 Hardcore Relationship Exercises

By Kendra Holliday | August 12, 2022

David Wraith and me

David Wraith and me

Want a better sex life? Then start communicating better! Push past your comfort levels, people, and communicate FOR REAL.

Open, and honest. You gotta be vulnerable.

Here are some bold ideas to get the ball rolling (pick the right time and place to do these! Carve out some quality time, don’t attempt to knock it out on the way somewhere, unless it’s a road trip):

1. Institute relationship check-ins. Do as often as needed – daily, weekly, monthly… My partner and I do it about twice a year, when our schedules are especially stressful and it’s a challenge getting our physical and emotional needs met.

Think about this:

Are you getting your physical needs met?

Are you getting your emotional needs met?

If the answer is no to one or both of those, what would need to be different?

How about your partner? Do you think they’re getting their physical or emotional needs met?

If they were asked, do you suppose they might answer differently?


Have you heard of Daily Temperature Readings? It’s a concept that allows you to explore the following key points:


*New Information


*Complaints with recommendations

*Wishes, hope and dreams

Covering these points can help you find out if you’re on the same page, or even reading the same book!

2. Tell each other three things you don’t like about each other (or five, if you’ve known each other for more than two years. 🙂

This is hard to do! It might seem like a counter-productive exercise, but it can really bring to light small things that can easily be remedied. For instance, my partner told me he didn’t like how I habitually ran ten minutes late. He found it disrespectful. I thought it wasn’t that big of a deal, but knowing that it bothered him allowed me to actively work on that habit and improve my timing.

My daughter told me she didn’t like me texting while driving. I have to admit, it took me watching this documentary about how texting kills or maims to put a stop to that dangerous habit (thanks David Wraith for bringing it to my attention!)

I hate texting as it is, and I sure as hell don’t want to crash into someone because I’m doing it. So if you ever text me and I don’t respond right away, be glad knowing I’m not killing Amish families. Who knows – this conversation may have saved lives!

3. No matter how silly, share it. If you don’t, it will only fester and grow. Months later, it will erupt like a volcano and cover your loved one in ashes, freezing him or her in a hopeless state of helplessness and agony. Like Pompeii.

Don't erupt on your partner.

He didn’t have a chance.

Don’t erupt on your partner. It can be fatal to your relationship.

Trust me – I’m the QUEEN of silly thoughts! I’m glad my partner is mature enough to handle me telling him his dirty bathroom is bugging me or that I felt resentful he had sex with someone in a place we hadn’t yet had sex. So petty – let it go. Address it and move on.

Let’s not forget The Four Horsemen: Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness, and Stonewalling. Read this article for an in-depth description of these traits that can poison relationships.

Four Horsemen of Apocalypse, by Viktor Vasnetsov. Painted in 1887, Wikimedia Commons

4. List five words that pertain to you. Next, list five words that pertain to your partner or child. Compare lists. It’s so interesting seeing how people describe themselves, and how others describe you. For instance, one my daughter’s words to describe herself is “ambitious.” That surprised and pleased me. One of the words my partner used to describe himself is “stern.” This did not surprise me. 🙂 One of the words I describe him as is “loyal.” Oh, and “MANLY!”

My five words that describe me are: Compassionate, sexy, loving, smart, organized. How about you?

Note that these five words are subject to change and are not set in stone!

5. Write a letter to your loved one as if you may not see them again. For instance, the night before I underwent surgery, I wrote my partner and my daughter love letters. Here is an excerpt from the letter to my daughter:

Pay attention to the joys of life. You can have as much fun as you want, as long as you take care of your duties and obligations and don’t hurt other people.

Make sure and get a college degree so you can get a good paying job (maybe in science?) and be able to take care of yourself. I want you to be independent and not have to rely on someone. Be good at more than one thing. I want you to spend time with people who energize you, not drain you. Live life on your own terms, not someone else’s. YOU are in charge. Make good, healthy choices that lead you to happiness. Have romances. I’m leaving you money – travel the world! Find someone who realizes how special you are and treats you with respect.

Be brave, you can do it! Replace the fear with love!

She keeps the letter on her nightstand. During surgery, my heart stopped for ten seconds. We’re all so glad it started again!

Now go forth with your brave, beating heart, and be authentic with your loved ones. (Don’t forget to include yourself in that special category!)

Bonus link: Reid Mihalko’s Formula for Difficult Conversations

Helpful vocabulary
Tact: 1. a keen sense of what to say or do to avoid giving offense; skill in dealing with difficult or delicate situations.
2. a keen sense of what is appropriate, tasteful, or aesthetically pleasing.
3. touch or the sense of touch.

Respect: esteem and honor for a sense of worth or excellence in a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability.


bimotarich 2014-03-30 00:30:35

great list…. keeping relationships healthy is a difficult task that we far too often put off or expect to happen automatically…


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