Chapter One

I Do, I Don't: How to build a better marriage


Put It Into Practice 


Your goal throughout the book (and in your life overall) is to translate emotional content into cortical process. This leads to an emotionally healthy and connected relationship. 


Use your own workbook/app. Give each other privacy to think and respond. Then discuss and share with each other.  


Look at page 11 to review Traffic Lights. Now, on page 1, circle what color traffic lights are Ben and Grace in panel 1?

Green Yellow Red 

What color are they in panel 2? Green Yellow Red

Generally, what color Traffic Light are you at home? _____________ 

At work? _____________

With your family of origin (the people you grew up with)? _____________

With your friends? _____________ 


On page 4, panel 2, what do you think Grace and Ben are feeling just before their first couples counseling appointment?  _____________  _____________

On page 5, panels 3 & 5: Does this remind you of your relationship? Yes No

Look at page 8 and page 9 panels 1-2 to review the three brains. Now look at page 6, panel 3.  

Which brain is Ben in? Reptilian Limbic/Emotional Cortical


Look at panel 5. 

Which brain is Grace in? Reptilian Limbic/Emotional Cortical 

How about in panel 6? Reptilian Limbic/Emotional Cortical 

See page 10. When you’re triggered, which is your F-mode? Fight, flee or freeze?  _____________

Describe an instance about yourself that put you in your F-mode:  ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

What brain does your partner tend to go to when upset?  _____________ Share and discuss.

Go to page 11. What does Green light mean?  _____________________________

What does Yellow light mean?  _____________________________ 

What does Red light mean?  _____________________________

What color do you need to be to discuss content? Green Yellow Red

Whose responsibility is it to resume the conversation if either of you get to Red?

The person who was Red The partner of the person who was Red

How long does it take physiologically to recover from being Red? 

3 minutes 30 minutes 3 days

Right now, at this moment, what color traffic light are you?  _____________

Ask yourself this question throughout the day. Maybe jot, draw or hear the color.

Look at page 12, Content/Process. Now look at page 7, panels 1-4. 

What is Content?  _____________  _____________  _____________

What is Process?  _____________  _____________  _____________

When you’ve had a disagreement, can you now see how the content  _____________ wasn’t what you were actually arguing about? Which of these was it actually: hurt sadness a boundary crossed frustration not feeling heard not feeling seen Fill in your own ideas:  _____________  _____________  _____________

On page 14, panels 4-9, what is Content?  _____________ _____________

What is Process?  _____________  _____________

Briefly describe a recent time you were stuck in Content. What was the Content?


How did it go between you? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

How did you feel?  _____________  _____________  _____________

How did you get through it together or on your own?


Look at the ‘What Comforts You?’ page and circle what comforts you, and put a check by what comforts your partner. Share your lists, compare, and educate one another as to your comfort list.

On page 15, panel 2, Jo is thinking about Ben in panel 1. What color are Ben’s parents?   _____________  _____________

What color is young Ben?  _____________

Do you recognize this in yourself? Yes No

Do you recognize this in your partner? Share and discuss.

On page 15, Ben and Grace’s belly hug comforts them both and shifts their Traffic Lights back to Green. How long does it take you to shift back to Green? (Note: Everyone is different. Your time will change as you implement the tools you’re learning.)

On page 16, panel 5, Grace is realizing important disconnects. Is she aware of her Process, too? Yes No

On page 16, panel 6, Ben is becoming aware of his pattern in the family he grew up with. Which tool helps him with this?

Traffic Lights Comfort 3 Brains Content/Process

 What are your takeaways from chapter 1?





Your homework for the next week is on page 17,  panels 4-5.