The Resilient Relationship Quiz

Relationships are sometimes tough. We get caught up in our day-to-day lives and we forget to nurture our relationships. We just expect them to be resilient in crisis. Sometimes it’s helpful to slow down and take a moment to reflect on the relationships we often take for granted.


So here’s a quick quiz. Listed below are seven questions and their respective response options from which you can choose.  There are no right or wrong answers. Just choose the first answer that comes to mind without thinking a lot about the question.

In the last week, how often have you…

  1. By the end of the day, said or thought more negative things about your partner (even though you said you were only kidding) than positive things?

a. Never            b. 2 – 3 days    c. 4 – 5 days    d. everyday

  2. Found yourself asking “What’s in it for me?” when your partner asks you to do something?

a. Never     b. Less than half the time     c. More than half the time     d. Almost Always

  3. Tried to avoid having a discussion when your partner indicated a desire discuss something of concern?

a. Never     b. Less than half the time     c. More than half the time     d. Almost Always

  4. Been less than completely candid or honest with your partner, even on little things?

a. Never     b. Seldom     c. A few times     d. Frequently

  5. Actually thought about doing something to help your partner or the relationship, but just never got around to it, i.e. you just failed to follow through?

a. Never     b. Seldom     c. A few times     d. Frequently

  6. Found yourself unable to resist temptation and did something that would upset your partner?

a. Never     b. Seldom     c. A few times     d. Frequently

  7. Heard your partner say something like, “You just don’t get it.” Or perhaps, “You just don’t understand me.”

a. Never     b. Seldom     c. A few times     d. Frequently

(c) George S. Everly, Jr., PhD, 2018.

Each of the questions was chosen to loosely and  respectively tap into one of the 7 Characteristics of Resilient Relationships listed below (see Psychology Today August 24 post 7 Characteristics of Resilient Relationships, When Disaster Strikes… blog), however the questions actually represent, or exemplify, the opposite of the characteristics I believe foster resilient relationships. Take a look at the characteristics I believe actually do foster resilience and their corresponding questions.


1. ACTIVE OPTIMISM; POSITIVITY – It would seem this characteristic is especially important as it sets the stage for the evolution of the other six characteristics. Research over the years has documented the powerful effects of optimism on health and well-being, but here I’m suggesting something more. Rather than a “passive” optimism wherein the partners hope for the best and believe good things will happen, active optimism goes beyond passive belief. Active optimism is the characteristic wherein partners in a relationship truly believe in their ability to make good things happen. As a result they don’t simply wait for good things to happen, they actively work so as to achieve shared goals and to make their dreams come true. Frequently saying or thinking things that are critical of one’s partner however, as indicated in question 1 above, may suggest a lack of underlying optimism.

 2. “THE THREE OF US”: TENACIOUS DEVOTION AND TRUST; IDENTIFICATION WITH THE RELATIONSHIP – Devotion is the “glue” that holds relationships together. Devotion is trust and fidelity. Research has shown that trusting relationships are more productive and enduring that those that lack trust. It is normal that forces will emerge that strain a relationship. These forces will come from outside of a relationship as well as from within the relationship. But devotion seems to be a form of immunity to divisive forces. I’ve been struck by a number of couples with whom I’ve spoken who referenced this notion of the “three of us.” By that they mean there is you, there is me, and there is the relationship itself, and that makes three! For these unique couples they defined devotion as not only devotion to the other person, but as devotion to the relationship, to “us.” This devotion to the relationship, to the “us,” appears to give great resilience to the relationship. Question 2 above, however, confronted your sense of selfishness which is contrary to the prescriptive “us” orientation.

3. CONNECTEDNESS VIA COMMUNICATIONS – Communication is the life blood of a relationship. There is no such thing as an information vacuum. When partners fail to communicate imaginations are allowed to run wild. Remember, the human brain is biologically wired to be negative. So left to its own devices the mind reverts to negative thoughts and to worry. This natural tendency can be averted by open, honest, and frequent communications. Communicating effectively is not easy, and sometimes it’s stressful. It seems to be a cornerstone for a healthy relationship, however. Question 3 above challenged you to consider your inclinations for open communications.

4. HONESTY BUILDS TRUST – Communication is important, but it must be honest. One of the best ways to show devotion and to build trust is to follow a moral compass that has as its four directional compass points: honesty, integrity, fidelity, and ethical actions. Question 4 asked you about your inclination to be less than honest with your partner.

5. ABILITY TO ACT DECISIVELY ON BEHALF OF THE RELATIONSHIP – Words are important, but actions more so. As Abraham Lincoln once noted, “Actions speak louder than words.” Relationships built solely upon words are built on pillars of sand. Both partners must be able to act for the well-being of one another as well as the relationship. How many time times have potential relationships never been realized because of a failure to act? In other instances, relationships are paralyzed with indecision. They often die or never realize their full potential. Remember the maxim, “Anything worth having is worth failing for.” It’s one thing to think positively, but it’s another to translate positive intention into positive action. Question 5 asked you about your ability to follow through.

6. SELF-CONTROL SO AS TO ACT IN THE INTEREST OF THE OTHER AND THE RELATIONSHIP – As mentioned earlier devotion to “us” seems to be important in forming and sustaining a relationship, but it doesn’t mean losing “me” in the process. So there is an ongoing challenge of trying to meet the needs of me, you, and us. It requires self-control, often resisting temptation. But self-control is not selfless. Question 6 asked you about your ability to resist temptation.

7. PRÉSENCE D’ESPRIT – Finally, by présence d’esprit I mean a collective presence of mind for the relationship. Partners in the relationship appear to not only be flexible in their attitudes, but they seem to be “on the same wavelength.” They can finish sentences for one another. They often anticipate what the other is thinking. In resilient relationships, this flexibility seems characterized by a sense of calm, perhaps even strength drawn from not only within oneself but from the other, as well. It may be reminiscent of Aristotle’s synergy: The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Question 7 asked you how “in sync” you are with your partner.

So what should you do with this “quiz?” It’s not about a “score.” It’s not about getting it “right.” The quiz can be a powerful tool to foster discussion between partners. It can be a tool that helps you grow closer. Ask your partner to take it. Then sit down and compare answers…that takes courage! You can repeat the quiz once a month if you want to gage progress.

After both you and your partner have completed the quiz for yourselves, there is another exercise you can try. If you are really courageous, ask your partner to fill the quiz out in the manner they expect YOU would fill it out. You do the same, but for your partner. By doing this exercise you will be able to compare your actual responses to the responses your partner expected you have. And vice versa. Obviously, this only works if you have not already shared your responses with your partner!

Remember, this simple quiz is just a tool to get partners thinking and communicating. It’s not a substitute for counseling.

© George S. Everly, PhD, 2018.


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