If you have a car, how often do you take it for maintenance? Twice a year? If annual inspection is required where you live, you likely take your vehicle for a check-up at least once per year. A car is an investment; it’s a good idea to maintain it so that you can rely on it when it’s needed. The same can be said for intimate relationships. Making time for a relationship check-up, and going in for maintenance on a regular basis, can go a long way toward preventing serious problems down the road. Take this short quiz to see how you, and your relationship, are doing:
1. I am satisfied with my physical appearance. Yes or No
2. I do not engage in exercise every week. Yes or No
3. I engage in self-care activities every week (make time for activities that recharge or rejuvenate me). Yes or No
4. I don’t have the time or energy to take care of myself due to my duties and obligations to work, my relationship, and/or family. Yes or No
5. We are able to talk through any conflicts and disagreements we might have. Yes or No
6. My partner and I often are not on the same page with one another (are off rhythm, not in tune, or not on the same wavelength). Yes or No
7. My partner and I communicate very well with each other. Yes or No.
8. Issues or problems in our relationship and/or family do not get resolved. Yes or No
9. In the past week, I experienced sexual desire for my partner. Yes or No
10. I feel disappointed, discouraged or indifferent about sex in my relationship. Yes or No
11. I am very comfortable telling my partner what I like, don’t like, and what I would like more or less of when it comes to our sexual activities together. Yes or No
12. I feel that my partner does not find me attractive. Yes or No
13. I can be 100% myself in my relationship. Yes or No
14. I feel like partner does not know me well, or doesn’t really “see” me. Yes or No
15. It feels like my partner and I are growing in the same direction, and that we share the same values, goals and priorities. Yes or No
16. It’s best that I keep very personal things hidden from my partner. Yes or No
Scoring: For the odd-numbered items, assign one point next to each “Yes” answer. For the even-numbered items, assign one point next to each “No” answer. Now add up the points.
Interpretation of Total Scores
14-16: You are going for the gold in the Relationship Olympics. Your score suggests you experience a great deal of satisfaction and connection in your relationship. You make time for both yourself and your relationship, striking a balance in terms of needs and priorities.
9-13: You are doing okay in your relationship, but there’s room for improvement. Some areas may require more energy and attention. What areas? Keep reading.
8 and below: Trouble in paradise. But you knew that. You may not feel heard, seen or understood in the relationship. There is a sense that long-standing patterns of resistance, and recurring problems and disappointments, are organizing the relationship, and a feeling of being “stuck”.
If your total score for a block of 4 questions (1-4, 5-8, 9-12, 13-16) was 2 or less, this indicates an area requiring attention and improvement. A total score of 2 or less for the first 4 questions indicates that you may not be satisfied with your appearance or physical condition (perhaps you never have been, or this is a new phenomenon for you), and/or may be having difficulty finding, or making, time to take care of yourself. Time must be set aside for “healthy selfishness”, that is, being able to take care of you so that you can be more present and available in your relationship with others. Think of it this way: The only person that you can predict with 100% accuracy who will advocate for your needs is you. So, be your own personal advocate, and reserve time to take care of yourself. Every week. (For more about self-care and what those buzz words really mean, click here).
For the block of questions #5-8, a total score of 2 or less indicates problems with communication and conflict resolution in the relationship. Going to a couples therapist might help, unless of course each partner’s take away becomes how to more effectively annihilate their partner’s perspective and opinions and how to simply stonewall during conversations. What I am saying is that it’s not just a question of communication skills, it’s a question of patience, care, and willingness to really listen to one’s partner and understand where they are coming from. It’s about soft starts instead of going straight to harsh criticism. It’s about hanging in there and hearing one’s partner, when you really just want to retort, defend, blowback, or disappear. (How emotionally intelligent a partner are you? Click here to find out).
Over questions #9-12, if you scored 2 or less total, you probably do not feel “sexy” in your relationship and are not very satisfied with the sex. Are you able to communicate your sexual likes and dislikes, or express something you’d like to try? A sex therapist may be able to help. If your total score was a 0 or 1 over these four questions, consider that last time you hugged, touched or kissed one another. Perhaps due to unresolved conflicts, you do not like each other very much right now. If the problem could be physical in nature, medical evaluations can help shed some light on what is happening and not happening in the sexual relationship. There could be arousal difficulties (difficulty with lubrication, or becoming erect), or other bodily changes making it more difficult to maintain excitement or achieve orgasm.
Lastly, over questions #13-16, a total score of 2 or less suggests that you are not completely comfortable being yourself, or sharing everything that makes you you, and/or you do not feel your partner knows you well as a person. You may also feel like you are not growing together, but instead apart. Sitting down and having a conversation about the ways you are growing, and asking about the ways your partner is growing, and how the two of you are going to prioritize these things in your relationship is a good start. It’s important to be able to talk about relationship goals and life values, and where each of you is headed today, not when you first met. Because life happens, and so does change.