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Goals for Couples in Relationship Education:
Couple Skills to Create and Maintain Intimacy


Developed for PAIRS Foundation by Don Adams, Ph.D.
Former President, North Carolina Psychological Association

  1. Confide in one another regularly with emotional openness and empathic listening.

  2. Complain to one another regularly (without attacking) including requests for change. Can listen to complaints without defensiveness.

  3. Resolve differences and conflicts by seeking to learn rather than to prevail. Use fair fighting that involves confiding, empathic listening, complaining with requests for change, and contracting, effective win-win solutions, all without manipulation or dirty fighting.

  4. Agree upon areas of autonomy, areas of consultation, and areas of mutually shared ownership and decision-making.

  5. Clarify hidden assumptions and unspoken expectations to minimize misperception and misunderstanding.

  6. Help one another heal pains and disappointments, resolve emotional allergies, and clarify hidden assumptions. Conjointly heal and resolve emotional allergy infinity loops.

  7. Meet basic needs for sensuality, appropriate sexuality, physical closeness, bonding, and intellectual and emotional sharing with one another.

  8. Follow clear, equal, negotiated boundaries regarding what is private and not shared with others outside the relationship.

  9. Initiate change when the status quo (division of roles, responsibilities, and privileges) is not satisfactory. Follow through on negotiated changes.

Learn more:

PAIRS Definitions and Expressions

autonomy – independent thinking and behaving.

bonding – being closely connected to another by emotional and/or physical feelings of affinity.

confide – to trust another with the secrets of one’s heart and mind.

dirty fighting – to use blaming, criticizing, and insulting tactics as a way of arguing for one’s position – any escalation in response to another’s sharing of upset, disappointment or point of view.

emotional allergies – intense over-reaction to subtle triggers or behaviors by another that are unconsciously reminiscent of past painful events.

emotional openness – to confide one’s personal feelings to another.

empathic listening – to listen so intently as to sense what it feels like to be in the other shoes, to understand and be deeply sensitive to their feelings.

fair fighting – to argue or negotiate honestly and directly for what one wants without blaming, humiliating, insulting, or demeaning the other, including awareness of individual beltlines.

hidden assumptions – underlying, unarticulated beliefs that motivate and impact one’s behaviors and perceptions.

infinity loops – a pattern of reacting to a perception with thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that in turn elicit a pattern of thoughts, feelings, and behavior in the other, thus creating an ongoing pattern or loop of reactivity that can continue indefinitely.

requests for change – to know the change one wishes for and to ask for it unambiguously.

sensuality – reactions of pleasurable bodily sensations evoked by a range of touch, aroma, sight, sound – pertaining and appealing to sensory gratification.

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