How to Create a Healthy Relationship…Take the Quiz!
I am frequently asked by couples, especially those having difficulty getting along, if the way they behave towards each other is “normal”.
Normal in psychological terms is the equivalent to average. What those couples really want to know is whether they are like most other couples or are they really different or extreme or behaving abnormally.
Healthy or Unhealthy
I prefer thinking of relationships as not so much normal or abnormal but healthy or unhealthy. The health of a relationship, much like the health of any organism, is measured by it being free of “dis-ease” and how well it functions.
If we consider that each system in our body needs to be functioning well in order for us to feel well overall, that same principle could be applied to a relationship and its systems.
How the couple functions in each of the systems of their relationship will determine whether their relationship is healthy.
For example: How well do they communicate their ideas, thoughts and feelings to each other? How well do they co-parent their children? How well do they do intimacy? How well do they care for one another? How well do they plan for their future together?
If you were concerned that you were getting sick or feverish you would take your body temperature using a thermometer. If it was pretty close to 98.6 degrees, you would not have a fever.
But what do you use to take your relationship’s temperature? Moreover, how do you know if you your relationship is healthy or unhealthy?
There are many elements that go toward creating healthy relationships. What follows is an explanation of some of the more important components of a healthy relationship.
There will also be a really good quiz you and your partner can take that will give you a grade on how healthy your relationship actually is.
Do you have the following components in your relationship?
Every couple argues…that’s a fact. It is how they argue that makes the difference.
In an unhealthy relationship discussions lead quickly to arguments and often escalate, becoming highly destructive. Partners can lose sight of what they wanted to accomplish in the first place by letting themselves devolve into anger and frustration.
Ultimately this can result in spouses holding each other in contempt and thinking of each other as enemies.
In a healthy relationship couples will generally try to correct or change the pattern of behavior that created the argument. Partners will learn to be more tolerant of each other and not so sensitive to every remark.
Each partner will make an effort to own or take responsibility for his/her role that led to a regrettable event and carefully consider how to alter their perception and behavior for the next time.
Later on the couple might even take the time to review what happened, being mindful to keep the conversation productive, not accusatory. The healthy couple wants to always remain friends, even if there are disagreements.
Do You Really Listen to Each Other?
There is no substitute for effective communication, which includes really listening to each other.
In unhealthy relationships couples will often misunderstand or misinterpret each other’s remarks or intentions. One partner might make an assumption about what the other should know and be disappointed when the other partner doesn’t deliver, respond well or meet the other’s needs.
Communication is a learned skill. Some people may have learned it earlier than others but it can be learned at any time.
In healthy relationships couples tend to work at improving the communication between them. Partners will often check with each other to make sure there are no misunderstandings.
Do You Feel Safe and Trusting or Fear You Will Be Misunderstood?
In unhealthy relationships partners tend to be tentative about what they say to their spouses. If they express dissatisfaction or sadness about something they fear their spouse might accuse them of complaining or being critical.
A partner might just want to vent or use their spouse as a sounding board, but has become concerned that the other will misunderstand their intention.
Being empathetic is being able to put yourself in your partner’s place and feel some of what they feel. It not just being sympathetic to your spouse, but being personally connected to their pain or joy.
In healthy relationships partners often find great comfort in realizing that their spouse understands what they are going through and allows them to express it.
Is There a Real Sense of Honesty?
Truth is essential for trust to grow. Without trust the love bond is seriously compromised. But honesty is not just about being truthful.
Honesty is also about being prepared to take responsibility for your role and your behavior. Not shifting blame in order to escape consequences, but being adult enough to accept them.
This type of mature behavior requires a good sense of self-worth and a willingness to self-examine.
Is There Mutual Respect and Support?
In healthy relationships, partners feel supported by each other. They can still disagree, but the sense that they are on the same team and are there for each other is not called into question.
People want to feel that they are held in high regard, esteemed or honored by others. They especially want this from their partners.
This does not suggest they don’t joke or poke a little fun at times, but it does mean that the fun they poke or the joke they make is not mean-spirited or intended to truly hurt or humiliate the other.
Successfully managing life pressures while staying connected and strong as a couple requires that you learn how to treat yourself and your partner with dignity and respect.
The Healthy Relationship Quiz
Do you know how healthy your relationship is? Have you even thought about it?
You may think that it really doesn’t matter or that your relationship is doing just fine. In that case you can take the following quiz just for fun.
On the other hand you may have real concerns about your relationship and not know how to make it better. In that case this quiz can help guide you both to the areas that need more help.
In any case taking this quiz will only take a few minutes.
I have reviewed a number of relationship quizzes and decided to offer you one from the Boston Public Health Commission. I like this quiz and its format for scoring.
It allows for couples to take the quiz together and to come to an agreement about their answers.
It also helps a couple to improve their score as they become aware of which areas in their relationship need more effort.
HOW DID YOUR RELATIONSHIP SCORE?
Score of 0-8: This relationship has room for improvement. A healthy relationship needs both people to contribute equally. A score between 0-8 indicates that the relationship is either one-sided or nobody’s trying very hard. This relationship might work with combined effort and commitment, but it may be time for a reality check for both partners. Does this relationship feel good to you?
Score of 8-12: Your relationship has potential but it might take a good amount of work. If this is a relationship that you and your partner want to continue to be in, you both need to pick a few areas to work on in order to make this a more healthy relationship. Make it a shared goal with your partner to increase the number of X’s in the Both People column.
Score of 12-16: You’re on track for a healthy relationship! Healthy relationships take time and effort and you are both definitely working at it. You have high levels of trust, support, fun, equality, and respect in your relationship. Both partners should keep up the good work in this relationship, there is always room for improvement!