Part 1: Helping Couples Resolve Conflict

Part 2: Healing Soul Wounds : The GIFT Exercise

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” (replace negative thoughts). The exercise consists of five steps. In order to follow the steps, couples need to answer the following questions.

  1. What is the behavior that my mate does that triggers my anger? Complete this sentence, “When my mate does (this)…, I feel (this)….”
  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 in 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 counselour to discuss this with).
  3. What do I do when feel I this feeling? What is my behavior?
  4. 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 the 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.

Finally, this technique (&  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.

Editor’s Note:

To know more about what it means to experience Jesus’ love talk to a mentor.

What is unconditional love? Listen to Karen’s story.

Read Related:

Two Sentences That Changed Our Marriage

How Do I Stop Fighting With My Spouse? – Part 1

5 Tools for Building Marriage: Part 1

Written by Drs. Beverly and Tom Rodgers

Drs. Beverly and Tom Rodgers

Beverly and Tom Rodgers have been Christian counselors for over 30 years and hold PhD’s in Clinical Christian Counseling. Together they have written 4 books. They developed a model of therapy called the Soul Healing Love Model; which they teach to leaders across the globe. The Soul Healing Love Model is used in counseling centers and small groups.
Together they facilitate relationship workshops for couples, singles and families worldwide. They have been married for over 30 years and have two grown daughters and most recently a grandson.