See how you would answer these questions...
How many of these issues do you and your spouse or prospective spouse agree on? How do you handle your differences?
GOALS OF POSITIVE MARITAL BEHAVIOR: (From Time For a Better Marriage, by Dinkmeyer & Carlson)
To be responsible
RELATIONSHIP DESTROYING GOALS:
To excuse shortcomings
To attract attention
To gain power
MARITAL SELF EVALUATION:
Choose a number from 1 to 10, 10 meaning completely true, 1 meaning not true.
I understand my goals and my partner's goals.
I encourage my partner.
I listen to my partner.
I recognize and understand my partner's feelings.
I can see the positive potential in situations.
My communication with my partner is honest and open.
I believe I am responsible for my own positive self-esteem.
I plan and communicate my intentions openly.
I recognize and choose my behavior and beliefs.
I resolve conflict with my partner.
I spend enough quality time with my partner.
We share marriage responsibilities in a fair manner.
We have fun in many different ways.
130 is perfect. 65 is all right. 40 means you have problems. 90 is pretty darn good.
Keep in mind that it is easier to change yourself than to change another person. If your partner is fair-minded, and is interested in the relationship, then if you keep your own score high on the above issues, s/he may bring his/her score up, too.
THE TEN DEMANDMENTS
Rules to Live by to Insure Unhappiness in a Relationship
I. Thou shalt make me happy. (Not the other way around, and I am not responsible for mine own happiness.)
II. Thou shalt not have any interests other than me.
III. Thou shalt know what I want and what I feel, without my having to tell you.
IV. Thou shalt return each one of my sacrifices with an equal or greater sacrifice. (Thou owest me.)
V. Thou shalt shield me from anxiety, worry, hurt, or any pain. (And not the other way around.)
VI. Thou shalt give me my sense of self worth and esteem.
VII. Thou shalt be grateful for everything I do, and clearly show it.
VIII. Thou shalt not be critical of me, show anger toward me, or otherwise disapprove of anything I do. (I say what goes, not thee.)
IX. Thou shalt be so caring and loving that I need never take risks, or be vulnerable in any way.
X. Thou shalt love me with thy whole heart, thy whole soul, and thy whole mind -- even if I do not love myself. (Thou shalt simply assume that I love thee too.)
CHOOSE YOUR LEVEL OF SATISFACTION IN EACH OF THE FOLLOWING AREAS: (on a scale of 10) (from Time For a Better Marriage)
Management of household chores
Social interaction with each other
Demonstration of affection
Meaning of life and spirituality
Leisure and recreation
Time together (quality and quantity)
WHAT ARE THE PRIORITIES OF YOUR LIFE STYLE?
WHAT ARE YOUR AND YOUR PARTNER'S BELIEFS ABOUT YOUR MARRIAGE?
I must be in control?
I have treated you right. You are unfair to treat me this way?
I must please in order to have a place?
I am inadequate?
Use the following skills to divorce-proof your marriage:
Encourage each other often.
Deal with conflict.
Develop the courage to be imperfect.
Support each other fully.
Spend regular time together having fun.
Be aware of choices you can make in your relationship.
Develop shared dreams, goals, and interests.
Have realistic expectations.
Do less of this:
Being unaware of goals
not recognizing feelings
being pessimistic or rigid
not communicating honestly
making excuses, fault-finding
not revealing my goals
failing to plan and to talk together
feeling I have no choices
battling for myself
focusing on winning
(Published by American Guidance Service, Circle Pines, MN)
Of all the people either of you might have married, how did you pick the one you did?
What qualities were each of you attracted to in the other?
Before you were married, what expectations did you have of what marriage would be like? How much is that like your present circumstances?
How much conscious preparation for marriage did you each do before you were married?
What did each of your parents think about the marriage beforehand?
What kind of help did your parents offer when you were first married?
Before you were married, what did each of you think you would be doing 10 years after the marriage? (or 10 years from now?)
What kind of encouragement, problem-solving or other support do either of you expect from your parents?
What did your parents expect you to be doing by the time you had been married 10 years?
What did each of you think the other would look like 10 years after you were married?
What does each of you think you and the other will look like 10 years from now?
How often do you communicate with your relatives? How much time do you spend? How big is the long distance bill?
When family members get together, is there any topic or person they never discuss? Always discuss? Family scandal, black sheep of the family?
When you were growing up, was there any topic that was never to be discussed? (Sex, death, mental illness or retardation, cancer, parents' finances, parents' sex life, black sheep of the family, religion, politics, ...)
Is there any topic the two of you would never discuss? (Old girlfriend, beau, past sex experience, preferences about sex, annoyances about sees, other partner's shortcomings, the other partner's relatives, behavior and attitudes of the other partner's children...)
Who would each of you ask for advice in selecting clothing? ...making a major purchase? ...making an important financial decision?
What kinds of resources do you believe would help you adjust to major pressures, such as unemployment, serious illness, or a family member needing important help?
What kinds of adjustments would be required if a pregnancy developed unexpectedly? Would one partner quit a job? What is your view on abortion?
What do you believe is the proper discipline for children? What should you do if the two of you disagree?
Should you both have the same friends? Are both of you free to form friendships with other people? Of the same sex? Of the opposite sex?
What would each of your parents have said about how to prepare food? How expensive? Healthy cooking? ...how to serve food? ...save leftovers? ...how to manage money? ...how to raise children?
Are you more like your mother or your father with... (each of the above?)
Should the whole family eat together? In the same room?
Should the family watch TV during meals?
What would your parents have said about using credit? Saving money?
How did your parents settle their differences?
How do the two of your settle your differences? How do you finally decide what will be done?
How is it decided what privileges and responsibilities each person will have?
How do you decide what duties and tasks each of you is responsible for?
Is the role of each person in the family determined by age or sex or tradition of some kind?
Which child should do the babysitting? Which child should help Mom? Dad? Which parent should wash the dishes? Wash the car?
What is each of the children allowed to do now that he wasn't allowed to do a few years ago?
During what parts of the day do you see each other?
What kind of religion do you practice? Is it absolutely important that you should both practice the same religion?
Who decides when mealtime will be?
How do you decide what time to get up in the morning and to go to bed at night?
How does each member of the family let the others know what is going on in his life? At what time of day is this most likely to happen? During what activity?
The following is called the MARITAL RELATIONSHIP CHECKLIST:
Choose, Agree, Not sure, or Disagree:
1. I am pleased with my partner's personality, habits, behaviors and priorities.
2. I am happy about our communication and feel my partner understands me.
3. I am happy about how we make decisions and resolve conflict.
4. I am satisfied with our financial position and how we make money decisions.
5. I am happy with how we manage leisure interests and spend time together.
6. I am pleased about how we express affection and relate sexually.
7. I am satisfied with the way we handle our parental responsibilities.
7.1 Decisions regarding the children are about the children, not about which of us has the say-so, or a struggle for power between us.
8. I am satisfied about our relations with my parents, in-laws and friends.
8.1 I am satisfied with how much time my spouse spends with his/her parents, and with how much s/he tells them about us.
9. I am happy with how we handle our roles as husband and wife.
10. I feel good about how we practice our religious beliefs and values.
11. My partner is as dependable and responsible a person as I am.
12. I am satisfied with how my partner talks with me and I with him/her.
13. When we argue, neither my partner nor I end up blaming the other for the problem.
14. My partner is as careful as I am not to spend too much money.
15. My partner makes time and has energy for recreation with me.
16. My partner's interest and drive for sex are similar to mine.
17. My partner agrees with me on how to discipline our children.
18. My partner is not overly involved or influenced by his/her family and neither am I.
19. In our marriage, my partner is as willing to adjust as I am.
20. Religion has the same meaning for my partner as it has for me.
21. When I am angry with my partner, I seek out a friend or relative to take my side against him/her.
The following is another marriage inventory:
Select agree or disagree:
1. I believe our marriage is reasonably happy.
2. My spouse almost always responds with understanding to my mood at a given moment.
3. The husband should be the head of the family.
4. There are some things my spouse and I just can't talk about.
5. My spouse and I don't have much in common to talk about.
6. It is sometimes easier to confide in a friend, than in my spouse.
7. My spouse and I often remain silent for long periods when we are angry with one another.
8. I believe a preschooler is likely to suffer if the mother works.
9. My spouse has never been sexually unfaithful.
10. My spouse and I enjoy doing things together.
11. The one thing my spouse and I don't fully discuss is sex.
12. I have never felt better in my marriage than I do now.
13. My spouse is forever checking up on how I spend our money.
14. Some things are too upsetting to discuss even with my spouse.
15. My spouse sometimes likes to engage in sexual practices to which I object.
15. During our arguments, some of the things I say are just to be hurtful.
16. During our arguments, some of the things my spouse says are just to be hurtful.
17. When upset, my spouse sometimes does a lot of little things just to annoy me.
18. I have never been sexually unfaithful to my spouse.
19. Some equality in marriage is a good thing, but by and large, the husband ought to have the main say-so in family matters.
20. There are some sexual behaviors I would like but which my spouse doesn't seem to enjoy.
21. My spouse is so touchy on some subjects that I can't even mention them.
22. My spouse often fails to understand my point of view on things.
23. There are some things about my mate that I would change if I could.
24. My parents' marriage was happier than most.
25. I nearly always gain complete sexual satisfaction from intercourse with my spouse.
26. A lot of arguments with my spouse seem to be about trivia.
27. Even when I am with my spouse, I feel lonely much of the time.
28. I am sometimes reluctant to express disagreement with my spouse for fear that s/he will get angry.
29. My spouse readily admits an error when s/he has been wrong.
30. Only in emergencies should the wife contribute to the financial support of the family.
31. My spouse and I communicate very simply through the exchange of glance.
32. I feel sometimes like my spouse is "lecturing" at me.
33. When arguing, we manage quite well to keep our discussion on the central issue.
34. My spouse likes to share his/her leisure time with me.
35. When I'm upset, my spouse usually understands why without my telling him/her.
36. I often wonder what it would be like to have sex with someone other than my spouse.
37. Just when I need it the most, my spouse makes me feel important.
38. About the only time I'm with my spouse is at meals and bedtime.
39. A woman should expect her husband to help with the housework.
40. I would like my spouse to express a little more tenderness during sex.
41. When disagreements arise, they are settled in a peaceful, fair, and democratic manner.
42. Before marrying, I was quite eager to leave home.
43. Before marriage, my spouse or I was pregnant.
44. My spouse's feelings are too easily hurt.
45. It's only natural for a man to be bothered if his wife makes more money than he does.
46. My spouse and I almost always discuss things together before making an important decision.
47. Having children has increased the happiness of our marriage.
48. Having children has not brought all the satisfactions it should.
49. A large portions of our arguments are caused by the children.
50. My children are treated exactly the same as his, and ours.
51. Words don't seem to have any impact on kids these days.
52. My spouse shows a great deal of enthusiasm in our children's interests and accomplishments.
53. Our children do not show adequate respect for their parents.
54. My spouse supports me in my disciplining of the children.
55. Before having children, I didn't realize how much of a burden raising a family would be.
DO YOU HAVE AN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP?
From "Why Women Get The Blues," by Brian Greer, M.D., and Carla Greer. (modified slightly for this purpose.)
An abusive partner:
...may want to control you by keeping you dependent on his approval and by lowering your self-esteem.
He (or she) may blame you for things that have nothing to do with you.
He may focus anger on you that he feels toward other people he fears (his mother, father, boss, etc.)
He may get you to blame yourself for the problems in the relationship.
He may think of you as someone who only exists to make him happy and to cater to his needs.
He may have no idea of emotional and spiritual inimacy with a partner, because he always needs to feel in control.
He may only be able to feel powerful by making you powerless.
SEPARATE YOURSELF FROM THE ABUSE
* Realize that you're not responsible for his/her emotional health. You can't fix him/her.
* Stop any enabling behavior like paying gambling debts, covering up his/her drinking problem, etc.
* Plan more time by yourself or with friends, away from your partner.
* Develop a support system that will give you a sense of family and esteem. This could be a close group of friends or an actual support group. (A church group, a club, or Al-Anon might be useful ideas for you.)
* Start doing things that you used to enjoy, but haven't done because of this relationship (such as listening to music, writing poetry, going bike-riding or to the movies.)
* Don't yell or get overly emotional when you're together. When s/he says something abusive aimed at turning you into someone you're not, STEP AWAY FROM THE COMMENT. Don't let what s/he says enter you and change you. Stay cool, confident and strong. In other words, don't give up your power to him/her.
* Release your feelings of rage when you're away from him/her. Keep a journal of your feelings, the situation and your response. This will help to reinforce your detachment and will let you see your progress in handling him/her.
* Never let him/her question your right to your feelings. They are real and they are yours.
Regardless of what s/he says, inside yourself, remember that you own your own thoughts and feelings.
* Respond to insults carefully so that you remain powerful and detached. Remember that his/her insults are a reflection of HIM, not of you.
* When your partner asks you to do something that doesn't feel right, learn to calmly say, "no."
* Don't become mean or vindictive like him/her. A person's greatest victory is to make you be like him!
TRY USING ONE OF THE FOLLOWING COMEBACKS WHEN S/ HE'S ABUSIVELY CRITICAL:
(Assuming your spouse is not PHYSICALLY abusive)
1. "Let me clarify what you have just said: You said...? Is this exactly what you meant?
2. "You're not making sense now. Let's talk later." (Then walk away.)
3. "It's hard for me to hear this now. Let's try later." (Then walk away.)
4. Change the subject. Ask an unrelated question or make an unrelated statement. This tells him that what he is saying is of no importance to you, and that takes away his power.
This is useful if the person is simply being abusive. If the person is trying to solve a problem, then always changing the subject would make the situation worse.
This therapist's additions:
5. Take the statements s/he implies, and say them in clear language.
Example: "I can do it! Why can't you do it?" A: "Well, you must be smarter than me."
You would be making explicit what was implicit in the speaker's statement.
For example, s/he was implying in some way that s/he is better than you, so long as you don't equal his/her feat. If you agree with this, how can s/he disagree? If they then disagree just to be oppositional, then they are saying that they are not superior, after all.
...or, "I don't care about that!" A: "Well, things I say are pretty boring."
or, "Maybe you could make a list of things you want me to talk about, and things you don't, and I could be more interesting."
Again, the speaker maintains a game only so long as his/her meanings are only implied. Once they are clearly expressed, then s/he may deny that they meant that, or be embarrassed that they had inferred it. If they admit that this is what they mean, then they are also admitting that they had an abusive intent. No need for you to say so; they can see that.
...or, "I know. I'm just the scum of the earth." (You're not taking them seriously.)
I know, if I'm so proud of it, I must be really hopeless. I know, if I'm not even ashamed, I should really be ashamed of that. Yeah, I guess if I'm not ashamed of that, I should be even more ashamed. I can't imagine how you tolerate me."
6. "Oh. I see."
7. "I didn't realize you felt that way."
8. "Hmm. That's interesting."
9. "Oh. I didn't realize that."
The more senseless the insult, the better a matter-of-fact answer works to deflect it. For example: "You're pathetic!" "Oh. I didn't realize that." You are communicating that you are not playing the game today. Or, "How pathetic am I?"
Other person: "You think you're so good." A: "How good do I think I am?" Other: "A lot better than you are." A: "How good am I really?" Other: "Not half as good as you think you are." A: "O.K.")
10. Or, just "O.K."
11. "Thank you for sharing that with me."
12. "Don't you have anything to say for yourself?" "Nope."
Again, this serves notice that you are not playing the abuser's game by his/her rules today.
Notice: This does not work if the abuser gets physical, or is drunk. In that case, an insincere apology might deflect physical aggression.
13. Statement: "I wouldn't be so proud of it!" Answer: "Well, that shows that you're a superior person." (Bringing the implied meaning of his statement out into the open. After all, what s/he would do has nothing to do with it. S/he is implying that you are inferior to him or herself.)
14. Consider -- if the other person makes an accusation, do they actually believe it? If they do not believe it to begin with, then why bother to argue with it?
Remember, you are not responsible for what s/he says. That is just something s/he is doing. A name s/he calls you does not make you that thing. A false accusation does not make it true. If a person called you a chair, that wouldn't make you a chair, and you don't need to prove you're not a chair.
You are under no obligation to prove untrue everything a person says about you. Avoid getting into a head game, in which your accuser is also your judge and jury. It is likely your accuser does not believe anything s/he says, so why bother to disprove it?
If the person is behaving foolishly, you have no need to take responsibility for that, or even to prove that s/he is doing that.
Remember, it is impossible for one person to play tennis. Somebody has to bat the ball back, or s/he can't play at all.
Why Women Get The Blues (up to #4)
Globe Communications, 5401 N.W. Broken Sound Blvd., Boca Raton, Fla.
SOME COMMON PROBLEMS OFTEN OBSERVED WITH COUPLES:
1. Do you take the time to have fun together?
2. Do you ever take time together without the kids?
3. Do you ever sit *calmly* and discuss problems, without accusations? If you are having problems, reserve 30 minutes per week to do this. Don't count blowups in your 30 minutes, as if that means you have already had a discussion.
If your religion requires a "family conference" time with the husband in charge, don't count that if the wife is not allowed to have her say. Arrange another time each week when you calmly discuss things both ways. (Website's additional comment.)
4. Do you eat together at least one meal per day? Is the TV turned off when you do?
5. Would you have enough money to live reasonably, if you had less? Would it solve any problems if you worked less overtime, or if the two of you had only one job?
6. Do you work the same shifts, or have the same days off?
7. Do you kid yourself where fidelity is concerned? You really can't live two lives and make it work.
See page: Are you being abused?
ARE YOU A RESCUER?
Judge your answers to the following questions as Seldom or never, Sometimes or occasionally, or Frequently. X is a significant other in your life, such as spouse, boss, parents, friend, relatives, or colleague.
1. Is is hard for you to take time for yourself and have fun?
2. Do you supply words for X when s/he hesitates?
3. Do you set limits for yourself that you then exceed?
4. Do you believe you are responsible for making X happy?
5. Do you enjoy lending a shoulder for X to "cry" on?
6. Do you believe that X is not sufficiently grateful for your help?
7. Do you take care of X more than you take care of yourself?
8. Do you find yourself interrupting when X is talking?
9. Do you watch for clues for ways to be helpful to X?
10. Do you make excuses, mentally, or openly, for X?
11. Do you do more than your share, that is, work harder than X?
12. When X is unsure or uncomfortable about doing something, do you do it for X?
13. Do you give up doing things because X wouldn't like it?
14. Do you believe that you really know what is best for X?
15. Do you think X would have grave difficulty getting along without you?
16. Do you use the word "we" and then find you don't have X's consent?
17. Do you stip yourself by thinking X will feel badly if you say or do something?
18. Is it hard for you NOT to respond to anyone who seems to be needing help?
19. Are you resented when you thought you were "only trying to be helpful?
20. Do you give advice that is not welcome or accepted?
In reviewing your answers, do you think they are healthy, once you give it some thought? Have they been healthy for your relations with others?
Adapted from The Wellness Workbook, by John Travis and Regina Sara Ryan, published by Ten Speed Press, Berkely, CA.
In marriage, learn to say and hear, ‘no’
- By Charlotte Lankard For The Oklahoman
A healthy relationship happens when two people know themselves and are willing to be known.
Three simple questions can help. What did you always want as a child and not get from the important adults in your life? And when you didn't get it, what did you feel? And then how did you behave?
This will typically help you be aware of your own needs — and your partner's — and help you understand patterns of behavior when needs are not met.
If you can exchange this information with each other and are willing to give to the other what he or she has always wanted, your odds of loving one another well will increase.
Too often, however, these needs go unaddressed because individuals are unwilling to ask or are simply unaware. When this happens, it is easy to fall into bad habits — manipulating, seducing, threatening, issuing ultimatums or engaging in power plays.
It is a matter of maturity to understand you will never get 100 percent of what you want from any relationship, and neither will you be able to give 100 percent of what your partner wants from you.
A willingness to hear “no” from your partner is vital — and to hear it without pouting, collapsing, throwing a tantrum or denying feelings, such as saying “It doesn't bother me … I don't mind.”
Equally important is learning to say “no” to your partner. Integrity and self-respect mean being willing to identify your limits and boundaries.
When you don't agree, learn to negotiate alternatives. If you struggle, seek help.
Don't rush when choosing a life partner. Take your time. Know yourself — and choose someone who also knows himself or herself. If you do, the going will be much easier and more rewarding.
Charlotte Lankard is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice.