- Get two copies of the book so that each of you has your own personal copy and, if you want to make notes of your responses and ideas in it, you can.
- Approach your reading together with “a teachable spirit.” As you consider your relationship, agree that you’ll refrain from staying too much in your head or repeating old, unhelpful patterns of thought. Be willing to go to your heart.
- Take your time. Read the book aloud to each other, one brief section (about 3-5 pages) of a chapter each day. As one of you reads aloud, the other can follow along in his or her own copy of the book so that the ideas are coming in both through your ears and your eyes. Given the busy lives most couples have, it’s realistic to allow three or four months in which to read the book in this manner. Agree that you will stay together, reading at the same pace.
- When you’ve read the day’s section, talk to each other about what things caught your attention and why these are meaningful to you. Consider the questions the author raised.
- Let yourselves fully enter into the stories of the couples in the book. Try reading them as if you were in a play, speaking the lines to each other. It can be surprising and empowering to hear yourself and your partner saying words that, in your own relationship, tend to lead to a meltdown. You’ll find that using a ‘script’ can increase your ‘awareness capacity’ -- the ability to observe your own negative patterns of communication in real time. When you can see the patterns, you can change them – transforming problematic interaction into communication that is grounded in mutual respect and creates greater closeness. You can move from “stand-off” to “stand together.”
(For a similar and specifically Christian book, see Safe Haven Marriage by Sharon Hart-Morris and Archibald Hart.) More information about Susan Johnson’s book is available at: http://holdmetight.net/video.php; http://holdmetight.net/audio_interviews.php.
Johnson, S. (2008) Hold Me Tight. Lebanon, IN: Hachette Book Group/Little, Brown and Company.