Replace your weekly date with a Rose Bud Thorn
A wealth of research shows that couples who regularly communicate proactively and respectfully about their feelings in the relationship tend to have the highest levels of satisfaction. Introducing: Rose · Bud · Thorn (RBT), a ritual exercise for you and your partner to regularly check in on how you’re doing as a couple. Keep reading to learn all about RBTs from our Head Clinician Benu Lahiry, LMFT.
Your first RBT
Create an account or log-in here to do your first RBT.
About 5 years ago, I was having a particularly challenging day at work. I was frustrated by the constant miscommunication from my leadership team at the community mental health organization where I worked. There was too much to do, too much turnover, and I just couldn’t slow down. I was underpaid, undervalued, and overworked. All the classic signs of being on the verge of a meltdown. I felt on edge, and it was really impacting my relationship with my spouse. I was going home every night and just dumping my baggage on him without even realizing it.
So, on that challenging day, like any professional procrastinator, I spontaneously decided to stop working early and visit my best friend and 4-year-old godson for dinner. Their family had a dinner ritual that they never missed: as they ate, they took turns swapping their roses, buds and thorns from the day. I remember thinking “How cute. I haven’t ever thought to do this!” I didn’t think much of it, thinking it was more of a cute activity for my friends were doing for the sake of entertaining a child and have something to talk about. But as I sat there listening, I noticed myself naturally slowing down and taking stock of the day. I specifically started to think about how I related to people (I’m a therapist after all!). From the moment I woke up next to my spouse, to my interaction with my Uber driver, to the barista at the coffee shop. How did these people experience me? Especially that day. I was so in my head.
I suddenly remembered that my husband kissed me goodbye that morning and wished me a good day upon leaving. Did I even say it back? I couldn’t remember, but all of the sudden, I was dying to know what his experience was throughout the day. What was his experience with me? Did me not acknowledging his goodbye from that morning impact his day? I normally would brush it off, but for some reason that day, it stuck with me. These were small moments that added up. Was this why I was feeling so down?
It wasn’t anything revolutionary, or life changing, but it did help me notice my thoughts and experiences in a more organized way. I came away from that dinner with my godson promising that I would also implement this ritual into our evening. A ritual where we talk about us. How we’re impacting each other, and how we’re bringing that into our day-to-day. How might our relationship impact the way we interact with others, our jobs, and the world? We’ve been doing our RBTs ever since.
The Ours philosophy
At Ours, we believe strongly in two things when it comes to supporting healthier relationships:
- The power of predictable, repeatable structure; and
- The importance of tracking progress over time.
That’s why we created an RBT just for you and your partner to use on a regular basis. We set out to not only make it easier for you to both share how you are individually experiencing your relationship – those beautiful ups and downs – but also to track how you’re doing as a couple over time. Our goal is to make connecting with your partner easier access, digestible and engaging at the same time. RBTs take only 10 minutes to do and can totally change the trajectory of your relationship. And, they’re fun!
Try it yourself
Create an account or log-in here to do your first RBT.
The RBT framework
Each person shares a rose, a thorn, and a bud from their perspective in their relationship. You can take turns doing all three at once or each take a turn sharing a rose, then a thorn, and then a bud.
- Rose: Something that went well in your relationship. It could be a personal achievement, a moment of joy, a happy memory, something you overcame together, the way you treated each other or anything that brought happiness.
- Thorn: Address a challenge, frustration, or something that didn’t sit well with you. This could be an opportunity to bring something up to your partner that bothered you or that you wish had gone differently in your interaction with one another. Feeling statements work well here so you’re not being accusatory. Another way to begin talking about a frustrating moment is using the phrase “the story I tell myself is…”
- Bud: Share something that you want to be intentional about as a couple heading into this next week. Discuss something you want to start doing, change or just bring awareness to.
How to make the most of your RBT
Choose your date & time
Choose a day of the week to sit down with your partner to do your RBT. Why weekly? Well, a weekly check-in provides a consistent rhythm and allows for reflection on recent experiences without feeling overwhelmed. I particularly like Sundays as it helps me reflect on the previous week, and what I’d like to change in the week to come.
Set the stage
Being in a comfortable and relaxed setting is key. It could be a cozy corner at home, over a meal, during a walk, in the car or any place where you and your partner feel at ease and can engage without distractions.
Make it fun
Create a ritual that you both look forward to! The important thing here is to make this enjoyable for both of you. Light a candle or play some music. Do it in a fort that you build in the living room. Anything that sets the mood and signals that it’s time to check in.
After your RBT
After you both have shared, try to deepen the conversation. Explore certain emotions that came up. See where you’d like to explore more. As you continue weekly with your RBTs, you may notice patterns. If you’re in therapy, this is a great time to talk about what you’d like to bring into the session. If you’re stuck, notice that. It’s okay to call attention to it!
Always, always, always conclude RBTs with gratitude for each other’s openness and commitment to the work that the practice of sharing. This reiterates the importance of the shared connection and the value of this ongoing dialogue in strengthening your relationship.
If appropriate and timely, I try to make couples reflect on what they appreciate about their partner has shared at the end of every session. It promotes a sense of connectedness as you end sessions and need to continue throughout your day.
“But you’re a couples therapy company,” you might be wondering. “Why are you building ways for couples to engage outside of sessions?”
Well, simply put, we believe in setting you up for success outside of therapy sessions. Our goal is not to keep you in therapy forever, but to provide you with tools that can help you stay connected and empowered in your relationship, even during challenging moments.
At Ours, we value giving couples access to tools that promote productive communication at all times, whether you’re actively engaged in therapy or not. Whenever you need or want it. RBTs are just the beginning, and we’re thrilled to have you join us on this journey.
By the way: RBTs are brand new! If you have any feedback, let us know at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rose · Bud · Thorn
Begin your ritual exercise for you and your partner to regularly check in on how you’re doing as a couple.