Relationship education 3
'No one is perfect until you fall in love'
Quick couple happiness quiz
Score answers: Strongly happy 1. Happy 2. Neutral (undecided) 3. Unhappy 4. Strongly unhappy 5.
Guess your partner's score as well.
How happy am I in the following areas of my relationship?
a. Roles, gender roles, division of household responsibilities 1 2 3 4 5
k. How happy am I with the following areas in my own life?
l. Personal independence 1 2 3 4 5
q. Overall, how happy am I within my relationship? 1 2 3 4 5
Add up scores and discuss. Clearly the lower the score the more happy (or in denial :-) )you are. Adapted from VHK Poon June 2008.
Relationship Compatibility Quiz
As a couple, my strong recommendation for the 15 item quiz below is that you interact with it in these challenging ways:
Discuss not only your responses and the similarity/difference of responses with your relationship partner but also the accuracy and inaccuracy of the two levels of prediction. Do this from the point of view of the mental map you have of your own and each other's relationship world view.
You can deepen your experience of questions like these with the focusing technique, a body-based technique that helps to confirm inner knowing. This method accesses the felt sense of an answer to the questions rather than an intellectual answer. I recommend you use this technique to unfold the answers within yourself first and before exploring it with our partner. Healthy long term committed relationships have mostly discovered this method for themselves by trial and error.
These ways of working with the questions can be far more revealing and uncomfortable than discussing them first. It may raise a whole new set of follow up questions, especially if one or other of your predictions was way out.
A common issue in perception of similarity and difference is that one partner see/hears the truth and the other feel/hears it. One validates information by seeing what the other says (i.e. visual and auditory): 'I see what you're saying'. Whilst the other validates by feeling in their guts what they hear (kinaesthetic and auditory): holding their stomach and saying, 'I really get what you say'.
Catching our sensory preferences early will shortcut later misunderstandings that flow from misperception. How our body experiences difference in a relationship is crucial to how we marry those differences. One uptight, defensive the other curious and open to questioning.
In the long term it is both our pre-marriage traits and how we manage incompatibilities that matters more than how compatible we are. Compatibility will not grow from a personal inventory of traits, but from how we sweeten them. As my grandmother said, honey is more important to marriage than vinegar.
The magic question
What do you know now about each other that you will "discover" a year hence - as if for the first time realizing it's significance.
I wish I could repeat that question over and over in your love-mind, body-knowing because in my experience the seeds of most late arising relationship problems were known at some level of awareness from the outset. That little voice which will name the issue later, was discounted in the beginning for a lack of confidence in a felt sense. Once the issue is named we can manage it. However, unacknowledged we have no leverage to work with it as a couple.
Instructions for scoring
Please read my notes below on the questions before continuing.
Score out of 10 for each of the following questions from: 10 very true to 0 not at all true. Total and take away 10 if you have lived together for less than six months. Divide your total by the maximum possible (150) and multiply by 100 for a Marriage Compatibility Percentage.
This quiz has no proven validity in prediction though devised by Institute for Social Invention (retrieved from globalideasbank.org on 24/09/05). However, less than 50% compatibility suggests at least don't rush to a commitment without counseling or ongoing relationship coaching.
The 15 item quiz
Notes to the questions
Question 1. ‘There is little conflict in our relationship’. Include each of the following areas where normal differences between people arise:
Question 1 does not distinguish between expressed and unexpressed, explored and unexplored, manifest and latent differences. When the seed of difference is left unaware it can grow into conflict.
Ignoring differences in leisure activities for example, does not starve it of food.
The key subsidiary question might again be, what do you know about each other in these areas now that you will "discover" in a year's time - as if for the first time realizing it's significance. Like a 5000 piece jigsaw, sometimes you just have to sleep on it, wait for some time for a latent pattern to be revealed.
Today you can build the skills for working with it, so that if it flowers into a problem you have a management plan. The willingness and the practice of doing that is more important than what may come into awareness in the future.
Question 2. ‘When there is conflict we handle it very satisfactorily’. Also consider conflict that apparently resolves but then comes back to bite you or recycles. It takes time to nail a pattern of recycling conflict.
Question 3. ‘I find myself agreeing with my partner far more often than disagreeing.’ Consider conflict avoidance and conflict prevention as different animals.
Question 14. ’We agree on the extent of freedom within marriage as regards other relationships and I therefore don't think jealousy will be a problem for either of us’. This is really two questions. One about trust, fidelity and boundaries and the other about jealousy.
I would advise you to consider non-jealous possessiveness as a healthy and productive expression of devotion rather than 'a weakness' to overcome. This is to be contrasted with insane or morbid jealousy.
That is a complex issue when combined with patterns of cyclical uproar driven by a rageaholic, or by alcohol or other drugs. Morbid jealousy combined with stalking, such as following you when you have an appointment, telephoning you at odd hours, searching through your handbag, is a whole other problem.
Question 15. ‘Our sexual relationship is extremely good.‘ That's the phrasing of the original question but 'extreme' and 'good' could be qualified because sexual and satisfaction vary so much over a year let alone over the average 20 years of a marriage and following kids. It depends on the point of view, culture and developing knowledge of wants and needs and each of these are subject to changes due to age and health.
Extract from Psychology Today article:
'Compatibility is overrated. The similarities or personality traits that attract people to each other may not hold up over time. You might be attracted to someone because you both love to ski, but then one of you blows out a knee. When people are divorcing, they'll say, "We have nothing in common." But they have kids, a house and 30 years of shared experience. Values about money and children run very deep and are important. The surface one--antiques, sports, travel and gourmet coffee--don't matter. William J. Doherty, professor and marriage and family therapy program director, University of Minnesota
Sensitivity to the issue of compatibility may be in and of itself a sign of trouble. My research shows that there is no difference in the objective level of compatibility between those couples who are unhappy and those who are happy. But the unhappy ones think compatibility is important to a good marriage--but don't think they have it. When people say, "We're incompatible," that usually means, "We don't get along very well." People overemphasize the effect of personality or values. And they under emphasize the extent to which easy, congenial temperaments aid marriages. Ted Huston, psychology professor, University of Texas, who runs the PAIR project, a longitudinal study of married couples
People assume compatibility as a baseline requirement, then want more. "I want him to fit in with my family and do all the things I love to do--and he should be sexy, and he should take me out to coot places." I think you can have an even more fulfilling relationship if you respect each other's worlds, and learn a little bit from each other. I always think of the phrase, "You've met your match." You really do want someone who challenges and spars with you. Nancy Slotnick, dating coach, founder of cablight.com
I recently asked myself: What would social science have to say to a matchmaker? Damn little. Measures of personality don't predict anything, but how people interact does. Couples need to feel they are building something together that has meaning. How does a relationship support what you see as a mission in life? This is the existential part. You must also connect emotionally. How much do you respond to each other's bids for attention? Does your partner turn toward you with equal enthusiasm? You need to ask questions and constantly update your knowledge of one another. And you need the ability to hear your partner's delight and take it in . John Gottman, founder-director of the Relationship Research Institute, Seattle
The biggest reason people get divorced is they grow apart. I don't see many marriages that can be saved, and I don't know that it's possible to save marriages. Counseling doesn't work; by the time couples get to the lawyer, their positions are very hardened. Raoul Felder, divorce lawyer who has presided over the dissolution of some 8,000 marriages
A couple needs to be within one standard deviation of each other in intelligence (10 points in either direction).--Neil Clark Warren, founder of eHarmony.com and creator of a questionnaire that attempts to match couples
Personality is important, but no one really knows how to match personalities up. People are sometimes attracted to like personalities and sometimes to different ones. Relationship skills, on the other hand, can always be improved, and they'll help any two people--with any two personalities--to get along better. Robert Epstein, PT West Coast editor
If a man comes home late, his wife may get angry and ask, "Why didn't you call?" Instead, she could say, "Honey, I was worried about you. Did something happen?" People must look for the best in each other. Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis, author of The Committed Marriage, and founder and president of Hineni, an organization festering Jewish heritage
There is no such thing as a compatible couple. All couples disagree about the same things: money, sex, kids, time. So, it's really about how you manage your differences. If there is chemistry, then the whole courtship is about convincing yourself and others that you are compatible. But, really, you create compatibility. And then, eventually, maybe in 25 years, you will become soul mates. Diane Sollee, founder and director, Coalition for Marriage, Family and Couples Education
People might agonize and think, Do we have the same likes and dislikes? But people are not aware of how powerful self-fulfilling prophecies are. We have expectations in a relationship, and we tend to make them come true. The most satisfied couples are those with overly rosy views of each other.' Lisa Diamond, Assistant Professor of Psychology and Gender Studies, University of Utah.
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