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The Marriage Counselor
Husband & Wife Cards
W He drops his dirty socks
on the floor and leaves them
there. He never changes the
baby’s diaper. He goes golfing
every weekend with his coworkers, so he doesn’t want to
go away with me for the
He forgets to hang up
his wet towel after his shower
and leaves it on the bathroom
floor. He lets the kids do
whatever they want and I have
to be the strict one. He only
brings me flowers on our
anniversary, but not on other
W He compares my cooking
She talks too much when
I come home and won’t let me
have a little peace and quiet.
She wants me to be more
romantic but I don’t know
how to. She gets angry when I
surf the internet and says I
should exercise instead.
I’d like to play poker with
my friends on Fridays, but we
have to go to tango class.
She’s too soft on the kids and
should be stricter with them.
She’s always dieting, so we
always have salad for dinner
instead of meat and potatoes.
unfavorably to his mother’s
cooking. He eats potato chips
in the evening and gets
crumbs all over the couch. He
doesn’t like it if I buy a new
lipstick, but he thinks it’s
okay for him to spend a lot of
money on magazines.
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I’m tired when I come
home from work, but she
wants me to look after the
kids then and give her a break.
She’s always redecorating and
moving the furniture around
so that I never know what to
expect. Her mother visits us
too often.
She used to wear sexy
clothes, but doesn’t dress up
much now. She doesn’t like
my friends. She wants me to
talk more about my feelings,
but I never know what to say.
He smokes too much in
the house and fills up the
living room with smoke. He’s
a terrible dresser, but he gets
upset if I try to help him
match his clothes. He spends
too many evenings at the pub
with his friends
She’s very focussed on
the children these days and
doesn’t pay much attention to
me. She doesn’t clean the
house as well as she used to.
I’d like to take a little holiday
— just the two of us, but she
doesn’t want to leave the kids
with my mom.
She cooks the same
dinners all the time, and
doesn’t understand that I’d
like more variety. She’s
always on the phone to her
sister when I want to use the
internet. She complains when
I go fishing on the weekend
with my friends.
He only helps with the
housework if I’m very, very
sick. He is too strict with the
kids and always tells them to
be quiet. When he comes
home from work he only
reads the newspaper and
doesn’t tell me about his day.
He only wants to watch
football matches on TV on the
weekends. He doesn’t help
look after our dog, even
though it was his idea to get
the dog. I’m the only one who
worries about our finances
because he isn’t careful
enough with money.
Marriage Counselor (Advanced) Husband & Wife Cards - Lesson Collection Set #3
The Marriage Counselor
Counselor Discussion Cards
What do you think
about this?
How does that
make you feel?
Could you give me
a clear example?
Why do you think
he / she does that?
What have you told
him / her about this?
How long has
he / she been doing this?
When he / she does that,
how do you feel?
What do you say when
he / she does this?
Counselor Advice Cards
I think
you should...
Why don’t
you... ?
You could
try ____ing...
Have you thought
about ____ing... ?
You might
try ____ing...
Perhaps you
It might be a
good idea to...
not... ?
How about...
You might want
to try ____ing...
Could you try
____ing... for a while?
Have you ever
tried ____ing...?
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Marriage Counselor (Advanced) Advice & Discussion Cards - Lesson Collection Set #3
Marriage Counseling Report
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Marriage Counselor (Advanced) Report - Lesson Collection Set #3
Teachers’ Instructions (1/3)
Marriage Counselor
It bugs me. / I resent it when...
It gets on my nerves.
It drives me nuts… / It drives me bananas…
It irritates me... / I am irritated by...
It frustrates me... / I am frustrated by...
It annoys me... / I am annoyed by...
1. Student ability: High Intermediate ~ Advanced
2. Approximate length of lesson: 60+
3. Number of students necessary: 2+
4. Preferred age/maturity: College, Adult
5. Type of lesson: Pair / Group Activity
Language Target: This activity has two
parts: 1) Vocabulary building and a lively
role play that provides fluency practice in
complaining and giving advice; 2) A
grammar extension activity that gives
students a natural context for producing
sentences with gerund phrases with
possessives (as in: His forgetting their
anniversary annoyed her.)
Setting Up: This role play can be done in
pairs, groups of three, or groups of four.
Photocopy and cut up enough role cards:
∞ Pairs: One husband or one wife card per
∞ Groups of three: Three husband and
three wife cards per group
∞ Groups of four: Two husband and two
wife cards per group
As a class, brainstorm phrases to talk
about negative feelings and phrases for
giving advice and making suggestions. Also
introduce some new phrases.
Phrases for Talking About Negative Feelings
I can’t stand... / I dislike..
It bothers me... / I am bothered by...
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Giving Advice/Making Suggestions
You should... / You ought to...
You had better...
Why don’t you... ? / You could....
Have you thought about ...ing... ?
Have you considered ....ing.....?
Have you given any thought to ...ing....?
How about ....ing.....? / Why not....?
It might be a good idea to....
Getting Started: Ask the students to imagine a
married couple who love each other a lot, and
DON’T want a divorce, but who recently
have been having some minor problems.
There is NO abuse and NO adultery in this
marriage. The couple has decided to see a
marriage counselor to help them improve
their marriage.
Ask the students to decide on their roles:
∞ Pairs: one husband/wife and one
marriage counselor
∞ Groups of three: one husband, one wife,
and one marriage counselor
∞ Groups of four: one husband and one
wife (the “clients”) and two marriage
counselors. (A female doesn’t have to be
the wife nor a male the husband. The
role play can be hilarious if students
switch roles.)
∞ Give out a role card to each student who
is playing a client and allow them a
moment to read over their cards. Each
role card has 3 complaints that the
husband/wife has about their spouse.
∞ Students now role play a marriage
counseling session. The spouses (clients)
should try to express their complaints
with emotion and talk about their
Marriage Counselor Adv. [Lesson Collection Set #3 – Lesson 12b]
Teachers’ Instructions (2/3)
feelings. Clients may refresh their
memories by referring to their role card,
but discourage them from simply
reading it to the counselor. Encourage
students to expand on the ideas on the
role card. Remind them to try as often as
they can to use the phrases for talking
about negative feelings. In groups of
three and four, the spouses should
alternate giving their complaints.
Reports. If the students did the role
play in groups of four, each pair of
“counselors” pool their notes and work
together to complete the Counseling
Report. If the students did the role play
in pairs or groups of three, each student
should try to complete the Counseling
Report on their own and only later, if
necessary, consult with their partner(s)
for assistance.
• The counselor should try to be
sympathetic and should also give some
advice or make suggestions. Encourage
the students to often use the phrases for
giving advice and making suggestions
and to ask questions like: So, how does
that make you feel? In groups of four,
the counselors should both give advice.
Before the students begin working on
their Counseling Reports, model how
they can use the comments from the
clients to write sentences which contain
gerund phrases with possessives. Here
are a couple of examples:
• To do the Grammar Extension
activity, it is very important that the
counselor(s) write down brief notes
about the spouses’ complaints. In a
pair, the counselor is responsible for
recording the comments of only one
client. In a group of three, the counselor
must write down the comments of both
clients. In a group of four, one counselor
will record the comments of the
husband, and the other counselor will
record the comments of the wife.
• Allow the role play to continue until all
the complaints have been discussed or
after a certain period of time elapses.
Monitor the speaking of students and
make notes of errors that later can be
written on the board and corrected.
• Have the students change roles. Hand
out role cards to the new clients and
proceed as before. (Groups of three will
need to do the role play 3 times so that
each student gets a chance to be the
counselor — therefore, you may want to
keep the time limit shorter for groups of
Grammar Extension
After the role plays are finished, the
students write up the C o u n s e l i n g
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Notes in a notebook:
He brings flowers — anniversary only.
She feels frustrated.
Counseling Report: She is frustrated by
his bringing her flowers only on
their anniversary.
Notes in a notebook:
He comes home — she talks a lot.
Bugs him.
Counseling Report: Her talking a lot when
he comes home bugs him a lot.
Of course, students are not going to
be able to reproduce the actual words
that the client said. Their goal is to
convey some of the complaints and
feelings that were expressed in the
counseling interview. Circulate and
monitor students’ writing, giving
assistance as needed. Individual students
should write at least 3 sentences using
the structure; pairs should write at least
5 sentences. In the section Advice to
Client, they should write another 2 or 3
sentences about what the counselor(s)
said to the client.
When all the Counseling Reports are
finished, have students post them
around the room using blu-tack or tape.
Allow the students to walk around the
room and read them. They always find it
Marriage Counselor Adv. [Lesson Collection Set #3 – Lesson 12b]
Teachers’ Instructions (3/3)
interesting to read their own comments
interpreted and written up by others.
Variation 1: If students need help using the
phrases (or if they forget to use them),
provide each pair/group with a set of
Husband/Wife Phrase Cards, a set of
Counselor Advice and Discussion Cards.
Before the wife can make her complaint,
she must draw a H/W Phrase Card and use
it in her complaint. Similarly, the
husband must draw a H/W Phrase Card
and use it with his complaint. The
counselor draws one Advice Card and one
or two Discussion Cards, and uses them
when responding to the clients. When the
clients move on to the next complaint,
everyone in the role play draws new cards.
Variation 2: Use the role cards for a
“Messenger” activity which offers oral
practice of gerund phrases with possessives.
Put the students in groups of three: one
husband, one wife, and one messenger. Put
all the husbands at one end of the room and
the wives at the other; the messengers must
pass complaints between spouses and help
them to work out their problems.
For example, a wife says He never
listens to me when I talk about my
feelings. That bothers me. The messenger
then goes to the husband and says Your
never listening to her when she talks about
her feelings bothers her. The husband must
agree to change his behavior in some way
and then may say his own complaint. The
messenger then tells the wife what the
husband has agreed to do and also tells of
the husband’s complaint. The wife must
agree to change her behavior before she can
say another complaint, and so on. Change
roles after about 5 minutes, so that each
group member has a chance to be the
Building Fluency: Allow students some time
to talk about their own relationships with
neighbors/ roommates/siblings/parents, etc.
Encourage them to use the Phrases for
Talking about Negative Feelings and to try
saying some gerund phrases with
possessives. You could add Phrases for
Talking about Positive Feelings (such as:
....makes me happy, ...thrills me, ....makes
me feel proud, etc.)
Writing Practice: Students write a paragraph
about one of their relationships. They try to
include a few gerund phrases with
Similar Lesson:
(Lesson Collection Set #1 – 02)
Marriage Counselor (1)
(Lesson Collection Set #3 – 12a)
[A simplified version.]
Contributed by Sherry Maisey
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Marriage Counselor Adv. [Lesson Collection Set #3 – Lesson 12b]