The Five Yeses
The Five Yeses is a simple tool for communication that increases your ability to empathize with your partner. To do the exercise, one person will make a statement about something important to him or her. The second person will then ask yes-or-no questions about that statement until the first partner has given five yeses. One time we taught this skill to a marriage group that we had belonged to eight years before, which had continued to meet after we left. We came back because one of the wives was talking about leaving her husband. We invited him to make a statement, and her to ask questions until she got five yeses.
Husband: I miss you and I want to spend more time with you.
Wife: You resent that I got a job?
Wife: You don’t like having to do more around the house?
Wife: You are jealous that I have new friends and my own income?
She paused. It was clear that she was so intent on her own reaction that she had no idea what he had said. We invited him to say it again.
Husband: I miss you and I want to spend more time with you. Wife- Do you want to spend more time with me, apart from the kids?
Husband: Yes. (#1)
Wife: Do you miss our Friday night dates?
Husband: Yes. (#2)
Wife: Is it ok with you that I got a job?
Husband: Yes. (#3)
Wife: Do you miss me?
Husband: Yes. (#4)
Wife: Do you love me?
Husband: Yes. (#5) That moment changed the course of their marriage. She stayed.