There are iPhone apps out there that want my job. Applications like “DTR: daily temperature reading,” “Mind over Marriage,” “Marriage Fight Tracker,” and “Fix a Fight” are programs that do virtual couples therapy. No couch and no, well…human contact necessary.
Belinda Luscombe tested them out for Time, so we have some tidbits from her on how these marriage iPhone apps work. The first one — daily temperature reading, is based on an established technique of Virginia Satir (a pioneer of family therapy). She told couples to communicate 5 pieces of information to each other “appreciations, new information, puzzles, concerns, and hopes.”
In the 70’s, Satir had in mind that the two people would be in the same room when this happened, but now you can send this info to your spouse while standing in line at the grocery store.
To bring up the ways in which this lacks would just be too obvious, so here is what I like about the idea:
It forces you to practice certain tried-and-tested language. When I work with couples, there is training that goes into being direct, owning your feelings, not just your gripes with the other person, acknowledging the other’s POV, etc. Satir was practical — she wanted us to hone a skill for communicating in a specific way, and it takes practice to master the words sometimes.
Couples therapy can be very directive. I’m known to interrupt one person and coach them to rephrase things. Oh, and lots of couple’s therapists send clients home with homework — sometimes note writing is involved. Not so different than iPhone app-ing your spouse, really.
Now back to reality. No, Fix a Fight will not actually fix your fights.
It will let you record your fights and play them back, though. How many times have you argued about something you said — one person swears they didn’t say it, the other person swears they did. As long as you hit “record” before things get heated, now you can just go back to the iPhone for the verdict.