FamilyLife Blog

Healing Soul Wounds: The Digging Deeper Exercise

by | Mar 23, 2020 | Conflict, Marriage

The Digging Deeper Exercise is a spin-off of the GIFT Exercise. This technique allows couples to dig deeper into our psyche to determine our soul wounds so that we can understand our reactivity. It then helps us to separate emotion that belongs in the past from emotion that belongs in the present. This develops what is known as Intentionality, which is giving a situation only the emotion and energy that it deserves. Intentionality is acting in a healing way, no matter how you feel.

The Digging Deeper Exercise provides a way for couples to be intentional and “renew their minds” (or replace negative thoughts). The exercise consists of five steps: 

  1. What is the behaviour that my mate does that triggers my anger? Complete this sentence, “When my mate does ________, I feel ________.” 
  2. Identify the root of this anger using The GIFT Exercise. Is it Guilt, Inferiority, Fear, or Trauma?
  3. Ask yourself, “When have I ever felt this feeling before?” Look back to your childhood for a soul wound that may be triggered. (If you have trouble with this, as many people do, pray that the Lord will show you; trust Him to do so. Or find a counsellor to discuss this with). 
  4. What do I do when feel I this feeling? What is my behaviour? 
  5. What do I really need? (This is not the surface need, but the deeper need in your soul.)

We encourage couples to write down their answers to these questions and share them with each other. 

The Digging Deeper Exercise organizes the healing process in such a way that couples can plainly identify their deeper issues. Couples also identify changes that will enable healing. 

These two communication techniques, (GIFT and  Digging Deeper) in the Soul-Healing Love arsenal are helpful for couples because they incorporate three key ingredients that researchers (*) have found in successful, happy married couples. These are: 

  1. Validation or active listening 
  2. Leveling or expressing real feelings and emotions 
  3. Editing, which is finding non-defensive ways to express oneself.
  4. Finally, this technique (and The GIFT Exercise) helps couples understand themselves and each other (*). Knowing why we (and our spouse) are so emotional or reactive can help us see ourselves and our spouse through God’s eyes (with unconditional love) and love our spouse, unconditionally. It is the unconditional love of the Lord Jesus Christ that heals our childhood wounds (Jeremiah 30:17). With the tools of the Soul-Healing Love Model we can better receive healing and give that healing to our spouse. 

We can be like Christ — a healing agent to each other and fulfill the mandate to love one another as Christ loves us. To quote one couple that uses the model regularly, “These tools gave me a practical way to be ‘Jesus-with-skin-on’ to my wife.” After all, isn’t that what we as Christians are striving for?

Used with permission.
* Gottman, John, J. Gonso,J., Notarius, C.,& Markman, H., A Couples Guide to Communication, Research Press, 1978.