How strong is your relationship?
Take top relationship therapist Andrew G Marshall’s quiz to find out how resilient you and your partner are
How often does your partner let you know how much he or she appreciates you by saying thank you, I love you or giving a compliment?
a) I’m sure he or she means to, but it gets lost in the hurly-burly of day-to-day living.
b) All the time.
c) Only when he or she is after something or trying to sweet-talk me after a row.
d) On special occasions when I’ve made a particular effort or when I’ve dropped pointed hints.
2 At a party, an attractive stranger shows a lot of interest – nothing happens beyond sharing a laugh and a joke, but you had a really good time. On the way home, your partner asks about it. How do you reply?
a) Tell the truth: “It was fun, no big deal.”
b) Make a barbed comment: “It’s been a long time since you’ve noticed me like that.”
c) Deny everything: “Don’t be so stupid. You’re imagining it.”
d) Go on the attack: “That was nothing in comparison with how you behave.”
3 If your partner had to describe your attitude to love-making, which of the following would he or she choose?
a) Always willing to the point of being a bit of a pest sometimes.
b) An equal partner for an exciting and rewarding love life.
c) I enjoy sex when we get round to it but am often too stressed by work and family commitments.
d) Sometimes, I agree to have sex just to keep things on an even keel.
4 When there is a major dispute between the two of you, how is it most likely to be resolved?
a) I will back down and keep the peace.
b) My partner will huff and puff, but generally accepts when I have the stronger case.
c) They don’t generally get sorted and we have several such no-go subjects.
d) We talk it through and although it takes time, we’ll find a compromise.
5 When your partner is stressed, how does he or she deal with it?
a) Talks it over with me.
b) Forgets by having a drink, going for a run, playing computer games, opening the fridge or some other distraction.
c) Bottles everything up and explodes from time to time.
d) Offloads on to friends or family.
6 When your partner does something irritating, such as forgetting to pick up something on the way home, what do you think?
a) For goodness sake, get your act together.
b) Why did I trust her or him? I should have done it myself.
c) If he or she loved me, my needs wouldn’t be such a low priority.
d) My partner is really busy and has a lot on his or her mind.
7 How flirtatious with others is your partner?
a) I’ve had a gut reaction that somebody might be more than just a friend, but I’ve either squashed it or my partner has denied it.
b) My partner has a big ego and loves to be the centre of attention.
c) My partner always treats everyone in the same open and friendly manner.
d) My partner has friends with whom they may flirt but gets defensive when I ask any details about their social activities or what they’ve been talking about.
8 How many of the following statements apply to your relationship? Choose all that apply. If none applies, move on to the next question.
• We were childhood sweethearts and we have had no other significant relationships.
• One of our parents died in the last 12 months.
• One of us is dreading or recently dreaded a milestone birthday.
• Several of our friends got divorced recently.
• One of us travels a lot for work involving overnight stays.
• One of us has a lot of extra stress at the moment.
• We’re moving house or about to.
• Our youngest child is about to go to university or will do in the next two years.
• There’s an elderly relative who needs help.
• We have two children under the age of five.
• One of us suffered a major health problem in the last six months.
• I can name at least six of my partner’s friends or colleagues at work.
• I could explain my partner’s life philosophy.
• We have talked about our plans for the future together during the last 12 months.
• We share a common interest or pastime – beyond the children or the house.
• I can name someone who annoyed my partner, beyond me, in the last three months.
• My partner knows what’s been worrying me lately.
Now add up your score
1 a = 2, b = 1, c = 4, d = 3
2 a = 1, b = 2, c = 3, d = 4
3 a = 3, b = 1, c = 2, d = 4
4 a = 2, b = 3, c = 4, d = 1
5 a = 1, b = 4, c = 3, d = 2
6 a = 3, b = 2, c = 4, d = 1
7 a = 4, b = 2, c = 1, d = 3
8 Various life stages and stresses can undermine relationships. Score two points for each that described your situation.
9 These statements are about connectivity between you and your partner. Subtract one point for every statement with which you agreed. If none is applicable, add two
Up to 12: high resilience
Life is hard and it throws up all sorts of problems. Fortunately, you have each other’s backs and know how to communicate effectively and sort problems out before they become serious. However, I hope – with question eight – that I’ve drawn your attention to the life events that test relationships. Talk about the implications of your particular circumstances together and double-check that all the ramifications are out in the open.
13-24: good resilience
With medical tests there’s “fine fine” and “fine but we need to keep an eye on things” – and you fall into this category. You have good communication skills, which are vital for relationship health, but they might need brushing up. It’s equally likely that you sometimes take each other for granted, especially when tired and stressed. It takes five nice things (compliments, flirty texts, saying thank you, hugs) to combat a single nasty one (being short, sarcastic, not looking up from your phone) but a ratio of 10 to one helps love to thrive. How could you up your score?
25-34: OK resilience
You love each other – and that’s great. However, you’re hoping being in love will smooth over all the problems and let your partner know you still care despite being wrapped up in your job, the kids and the general stresses of life. Worse still, your interpretations of his or her actions have turned from guesses into solid “facts”, and that’s building a wall of misunderstanding and distrust. You need to improve your communication: learn to ask for what you need (rather than expect your partner to know), be able to say no or maybe to each other (where necessary) and negotiate when there is a disagreement.
35+: in danger of being overwhelmed
You knew you were in a dark place before you started doing this test, but you had no idea how to make things better. When you’ve tried in the past, you have ended up listing or describing the problems – which makes each other defensive and angry (and makes matters worse). Let’s take the issues as given and instead focus on solutions. Ask each other questions: how are we going to resolve our relationship problems? What changes do we need to make? How can we be certain to stick to these resolutions? If you find yourselves getting upset again, it means you’ve stopped asking each other open questions. Acknowledge each other’s upset and try again, when you’re both calmer.