Note: This is the first of a two-part series.
What are the issues, conflicts or problems in your relationship? Take the following questionnaire to find out. Underline all that applies:
- We are becoming emotionally distant. We have difficulty just simply talking to each other; we are staying emotionally in touch with each other less; I feel taken for granted; I feel my partner doesn’t know me right now; my partner is (or I am) emotionally disengaged; we spend less time together.
- There is spillover of non-relationship stresses (such as job tension) into our relationship. We don’t always help each other reduce daily stresses; we don’t talk about these stresses together; we don’t talk about stress in a helpful manner; my mate doesn’t listen with understanding about my stresses and worries; my partner takes job or other stresses out on me; my partner takes job or other stresses out on the children or others.
- Our relationship is lacks romance and passion. My mate (or I) have stopped being verbally affectionate; my spouse (or I) express love or admiration less frequently; we rarely touch each other; my partner (or I) have stopped feeling very romantic; we rarely cuddle; we have few tender or passionate moments.
- We are having problems in our sex life. Sex is less frequent; I (or my mate) get less satisfaction from sex; we have problems talking about sex; each of us wants different things sexually; desire is less than it once was; our love making feels less loving.
- Our relationship is not dealing well with an important change (such as the birth of a child, a job loss, move, illness or death of a loved one). We have very different views on how to handle things; this event has led my partner to be very distant; this event has made us both irritable; this event has led to a lot of fighting; I am worried about how this will all turn out; we are taking very different positions.
- We have a conflict about children. We have a conflict about whether to have a child. We have very different goals for our children; we differ on what to discipline children for; we differ on how to discipline our children; we have issues on how to be close to our kids; we are not talking about these problems well; there is much tension and anger about these differences.
- We have a conflict concerning in-laws or relatives. I feel unaccepted by my partner’s family; I sometimes wonder which family my spouse is in; I feel unaccepted by my own family; there is tension between us about what might happen; this issue has generated a lot of irritability; I worry about how this will turn out.
- One of us is flirtatious outside the relationship, or may have had a recent affair, or there is jealousy. This area is a source of a lot of hurt; this is an area that creates insecurity; I can’t deal with the lies; it’s hard to reestablish trust; it’s hard to know how to heal over this.
I will continue this questionnaire in next week’s column.
Source: The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman and Nan Silver (Three Rivers Press)