How Happy is Your Marriage?
How to rate your relationship and strengthen your marriage.
On a scale of 1-10, how do you think your marriage rates?
Some marriage therapists believe that it would be beneficial to have couples rate their relationships to get a better sense of their strengths and weaknesses.
Here are some of the categories for you to test yourself, as listed in a recent Wall Street Journal article:
TRUST: There is a sense of trust in my relationship.
COMPANIONSHIP: My partner and I feel connected when we are together even if we are not saying much.
INTIMACY: My partner and I have a good and fulfilling intimate life together.
VALIDATION: I listen and hear my partner. My partner listens and hears me.
CONFLICT: When there is conflict, my partner and I can usually compromise. My partner and I are able to focus on the conflict at hand, rather than bringing in other issues and escalating the disagreement
ASSISTANCE: My partner celebrates with me when something good happens to me. I celebrate with my partner when something good happens to my partner.
TEAMWORK: My partner and I agree on financial budgeting.
BOREDOM: My partner and I like to try new hobbies and activities together.
What’s the Point of Rating?
You may be asking yourself-why would anyone want to rate their marriage? What would the benefit be anyway?
Taking a step back to look at our behaviors, both good and bad, can help us live together better.
Many people wonder why it is that some marriages thrive while others seem to disintegrate. Researchers have relied on these ‘rate your relationship’ observations to figure out the answer to this very question. The responses provide an intimate view as to what a person is really feeling and experiencing.
Rarely do we see ourselves and how we act towards our partners. If we could just take a step back and get a look at our behaviors, both good and bad, we could help ourselves live together better. We could use the info to talk, discuss where we feel strong and where we feel vulnerable. We could try to think about what we can do to improve and change the dynamics. And finally, we can use this eye-opening conversation as a springboard to help our marriages grow more solid.
After all, how can we grow stronger and find solutions if we do not even know where the problems lie? Often we feel frustrated in a relationship, unfulfilled, or unheard. We cannot place our finger on what is bothering us but somehow, a voice inside is giving off a blinking hazard light. Once we are able to identify the area we feel weakest in, we can work together to build and rectify. And it is not that all is bad. We are also able to find areas that we feel strong in, that bring us a sense of security and happiness.
Of course, there are pitfalls to watch out for.
Imagine sitting down and finding out that while you rate your marriage an overall 8.5, your spouse has given your relationship a 4. You have gone through the categories and do not see eye to eye. Sometimes a person is shocked to discover that he or she has been clueless to the extent of their partner’s unhappiness. Perhaps your husband or wife has slowly been emotionally disconnecting and you had no idea.
Of course this could lead to a troubling discussion-even a heated argument. It is crucial that both partners be on the same page in wanting to strengthen the relationship. A genuine desire to energize life together is the key. The mistake is waiting until you feel seriously detached before deciding to seek solutions.
There are definitely ways to make this discussion work more to benefit your marriage instead of harming it. You must be careful not to bring toxic conflict into your home in the way that you communicate your desire to revitalize your relationship. Telling your partner that you rate your relationship a low score in most areas is not a way to encourage growth and solutions.
How to Make This Discussion Work
We are told by researchers that the main areas to think about when trying to rate a relationship include trust, intimacy, companionship, and teamwork. You can decide for yourself which topics are most important to you and the order of their priority in your life.
“Start with the positives,” Dr. Ruskin, a marriage therapist advices. “A good way to begin would be to say ‘I love you and I love us. I would like our relationship to be enhanced and grow for many years. So I’ve been thinking how to do that’.” She then guides the conversation further in a beneficial way:
Pinpoint what is it that you believe you can do to make your relationship better instead of just zeroing in on what it is that your partner needs to do. Give the message that it’s because you love each other that you will both want to help your love grow. This way you resolve to take ownership of your relationship.
Lessen the threat and fear of this discussion by saying that you, too, thought it was a little ridiculous. But it may not be a bad idea to look at the different categories and see where you each feel content or where you feel that improvement can be made. Ask if there is one or two things that you can both think about right now that would enhance the area where you feel diminished. This is not about blaming or complaining. You cannot start bringing up past history. Now is not the time to be reminding your spouse about unfinished arguments and irritating behaviors. If you truly want to build you need to be in a positive mode. Seek solutions, not problems.
Resolve not to grow in your expectations of what you will receive. You would only be setting yourself up for great disappointment. Instead, encourage yourself to focus on what you can do to inspire new spirit in your marriage. It is not about what you are getting; right now it is all about what you are giving. You will be creating an atmosphere of love that can only enhance your life together.
All this takes great courage. Confronting troubling issues takes us out of our comfort zone. Resolving to change behaviors requires bold determination. It is human nature to ask what our partner has done for us lately instead of questioning how we can do better. But if we are earnest in both heart and soul to create a life-long bond, we will discover the force that lies within and bring newfound peace to our homes.