By: Susan Heckler
On a scale of 1 to 10, how happy do you think your marriage is? Marriage is a commitment but it is also a partnership. A partnership is an arrangement in which all parties agree to cooperate to advance their mutual interests. How is that going?
Envision you and your spouse in a row boat. An equal partnership would mean both oars are in the water, stroking in unison, and with equal force. In a perfect world, your row boat would be gliding smoothly and swiftly to the chosen destination. Are you on course? Are you spinning in a circle, going nowhere except round and round and round because only one of you is rowing?
We want you to take a long look at your marriage to determine if you are happy in this relationship. If you are not, your health can easily be affected. This does not necessarily mean a trip to the divorce attorney. There are some simple things you can do to try and set yourself back to smooth sailing.
Were you a happy person as a single? If you were an unhappy person before you met your spouse, did you think getting married would change that? Happy people make for happy marriages. If you were an unhappy person prior, you need to do some soul searching to make yourself happy without relying on someone else to do it for you.
Did you choose your spouse for the right reasons? What attracted you to them? Were you on the rebound? Did you get married for the sake of getting married?
Unhappy people tend to blame themselves first, and eventually their partner. Blaming gives people a sense of supremacy. It feels a whole lot better than self-doubt, but it eliminates the motivation to work on the relationship.
Taking a marriage quiz gives you the opportunity to determine where your marital problems stem from. After scouring the web, these are the best questions I have found to determine this. Thanks to Sophie Keller and Interim, I have compiled a good test. Try to be brutally honest with yourself to get a true score. We all come with baggage, is yours compatible with your partner?
1. How do you both handle a disagreement?
A. One or both of us are loud and volatile. We talk over each other, without listening properly.
B. We discuss our differences, acknowledge if they have a point and try to calmly work it out.
C. One or both of us bottles it up and we become slightly passive aggressive as a result.
Points: A2 B1 C3
2. A general sense of tension in your marriage relationship. All marriages have tense moments, even tense periods of time, but constant tension suggests unresolved problems. The normal condition of a healthy marriage is peace, not tension.
Occasional 2——–4——–6——-8 Constant
3. Are you both happy with the amount of sex you have?
A. No, I want more sex than my partner.
B. My partner wants more sex than I do.
C. Yes, we are both happy with the amount we are having.
Points A3 B2 C1
4. A decrease in laughter and overall happiness. Joy is also the normal condition of a healthy marriage, yet some couples cannot remember the last time both were joyful in their marriage. Rather than energizing them, their marriage drains them. How about your marriage? Do you laugh with each other? Does anything about your relationship bring you joy? When was the last time that simply thinking about your husband or wife brought a smile to your face?
Usually 2——–4——–6——-8 Seldom
5. Do you and your partner have a lot of interests and hobbies in common?
A. Yes, we are best of friends and have a lot of similar interests.
B. No, we really don’t have that much in common.
C. We have some things in common, but it would be nice to have more.
Points A1 B3 C2
6. You are easily distracted and find it hard to give one another your complete attention. Occasional distractions happen to everyone. If you have children, you will have more distractions. Wise couples learn how to focus on their relationship, planning time to pay special attention to each other. Couples in danger believe the lie that there is no time to find. Can you identify with this comment from one of our seminar attendees?
I cannot remember when we had our last heart-to-heart talk. We act like everything else is more important than special times for ourselves. Our lives are a swarm of urgent demands clamoring for our attention.
Seldom 2——–4——–6——-8 Usually
7. The longer that you are with your partner, do you feel that:
A. Your relationship is growing apart.
B. You are naturally growing and evolving together.
C. Sometimes you grow apart temporarily, but you tend to put in effort in order to grow together again.
Points: A31 B13 C2
8. Electronic media takes the place of face-to-face communication. TV can entertain, educate, and enlighten. But do you ever use the TV to avoid each other? Does the TV or the internet dictate your daily schedule? Do you have the willpower to turn them off and do something more helpful for your marriage?
Right amount 2——–4——–6——-8 Too Much
9. After being apart for the day when you see each other do you:
1. Immediately kiss or hug when you see each other?
2. Mumble “hi” then get on with other things?
3. Sometimes give a warm welcome and sometimes not, depending on your mood?
Points A1 B3 C2
10. As a couple, you are not communicating effectively. Every couple develops their own patterns of communication, but sometimes those patterns are unhealthy. If you have put each other in solitary confinement, if you no longer take the time to discuss important concerns, you are in danger.
Discuss 2——–4——–6——-8 Avoid
11. You and your spouse have separate agendas, but no common activities. One couple we know looks great to casual acquaintances. Nice home, prosperous, active in church and very involved in their careers. But if you scanned their date books you would notice that they have no time for each other or for their relationship. In fact, they had developed separate lives. It doesn’t happen in a moment. It happens when we stop thinking as a couple and only think about our individual lives, careers, and activities.
Healthy 2——–4——–6——-8 Little or None
12. Sexual intimacy has become more a bother, less a blessing. Sexual fulfillment is one of God’s most exciting gifts to married couples. A healthy sexual relationship strengthens intimacy, relieves tension, and is fun! Do you both feel sexually satisfied in your marriage?
Fulfilled 2——–4——–6——-8 Frustrated
13. Little things make you angry. You are easily irritated. Irritability develops when we neglect intimacy. We find the tone of our voice becoming sharper. We get offended easily. We avoid each other.
Anger and Irritation:
Seldom 2——–4——–6——-8 Chronic
Essentially, the lower you scored, the straighter you are rowing. You would seem to have a good and balanced relationship. You obviously bring out the best in each other and your relationship is growing and evolving over time. Congrats, you passed the test with flying colors.
If your score is in the middle range, your relationship probably needs a bit of work to take it from good to great. Communication is important. Make an effort; you can easily make your relationship fantastic again you just need to focus on making it happen.
If you scored high, unlike school testing, it is not a good sign. You are probably unhappily married. Scores this high usually indicate a severely neglected marriage. You both need to have a serious heart-to-heart to see if you really want this relationship to work. Your relationship will need a lot of effort to make it work. It is time to drop the blame game and really start listening to each other’s needs. See if you can help fulfill them together or if you really want to. If your relationship was once great, you could potentially make it great again, so long as you are both prepared to put in a huge amount of effort.
Okay, so you have now determined the quality of your relationship. Not so good? What’s the big deal? Millions of people live with dysfunction. Unhappy couples have compromised immune systems, higher blood pressure and faster heart rates than their happy counterparts. Even more alarming, they could be at an increased risk for heart disease, arthritis and cancer. That is not to say a good relationship will make you healthy. Stress, from any cause, is not a good thing.
According to the Mayo Clinic:
|Common effects of stress …|
|… On your body||… On your mood||… On your behavior|
Working on your relationship may alleviate a large part of your stress. If that isn’t enough incentive, think of all of the happiness you are missing out on. Don’t you deserve to be happy? “Enjoy life. There’s plenty of time to be dead.” Hans Christian Andersen