In this post I will share some of the variables that can be experienced from a life long commitment or marriage. The purpose is to create somewhat of a road map to help you and your partner to identify the strengths of your bond and those areas that could use some attention. This could also be used as an assessment tool either with or without a therapist – to use this as such simply rate each variable as a 1 – 10 (10 is perfect and 1 is absent) knowing that anything below a 5 could use some attention/intention ;).
I came up with this list after noticing a trend as a couples counselor = most people seem to be signing up for a life long commitment (marriage) without ever discussing the parameters of that commitment. What do you need from your commitment in order to live a happy and healthy life? = below are some possible suggestions. Why would someone get married? = to reap the benefits of the variables below. Why would someone be married if none of the variables below are present – this is a difficult question that many are struggling with… I believe it would be helpful to intentionally nurture the below items.
Shared Resources and Labor – the world is a difficult place to navigate alone and it is often easier to share responsibilities and resources. Are you both sharing in the work relevant to responsibilities such as child care, chores, finances, planning, and utilities management etc.?
Co-Parenting – How is your team doing at collaborating in creating and implementing consistent parenting strategies? Are you a team?
Supporting the Authentic Growth of your partner – How are you all doing at facilitating an accepting and supportive space for your partner’s true self to bloom and prosper? How validating and acknowledging are you both of your partners authentic self and do you help each other to better know and radiate that authentic self? Are you both allowed to be who you really are?
Acceptance – Do you accept each other unconditionally? Do you accept each others ‘faults and imperfections’ (and perhaps not label them as faults)?
Emotional intimacy, empathy and depth – Is there space and ability to facilitate deep emotional expression that is received with compassionate empathy, support and kindness. Do you both share and support the weight of your individual and relational emotional experiences?
Attunement – are you seen by your partner? Are your core selves and your emotional selves seen and resonated with by each other? do you know each others’ emotions and needs even without verbalization?
Meetings Needs – Do you meet each others needs? to seek to know each others needs? do you share your needs? Do you help each other to better understand and identify what you both need? Do you communicate your needs directly?
Shared meaning – Do you collaborate in creating a relational narrative which serves to fulfill a joint sense of purpose? Existentially – does the relationship provide a meaning which is congruent with your shared and individual values and belief systems?
Physical Intimacy – especially in a monogamous relationship you are dependent on your partner to fulfill your sexual and physical comfort needs. Are you and your partner sexually satisfied? Are you hugged, kissed, cuddled with and otherwise physically nurtured?
Loyalty – can you count on each other to stay loyal to the agreements of your (likely unwritten) relationship contract? What is your loyalty to your relationship compared with your loyalty to your self interests in the moment or future?
Trust, Security, and Predictability – Is there honesty and transparency in your relationship? Do you have faith that your partner will do as you say? can you count on your partner? do you both follow the agreements of your relationship?
Safety – Is your partnerships a place of safety and respite? is your relationship free of fear, oppression, and manipulation?
Soothing and regulation – When you need emotional support can your relationship provide nurturance? when you are overwhelmed, stressed and or anxious can you and your partner sooth each other – regulate each other? Does your connection provide your with a sense of calmness – is it restorative?
Commonality – do you share common interests with your partner? does your relationship provide the opportunity to share enjoyment in activities?
Friendship – do you like your partner? do you enjoy spending time with each other? Do you enjoy sharing your life experiences with each other? Do you enjoy sharing with your partner?
Solutions and team work – do you work well with your partner in creating and implementing solutions and strategies? If there is a problem are you able to collaborate in finding a fix?
Communication – is there effective listening and clear articulation in your your communication? is communication open and honest? Does communication produce feelings of mutual understanding? is there reciprocity in the relationship? are your non-verbal signals and other bids for engagement received?
Motivation and dedication – does your relationship encourage the motivation and dedication necessary to achieve your authentic ambitions? does the relationship provide assistance for the growth of your individual and relational potential? Is growth supported in a variety of realms: vocationally, relationally, academically, physically, spiritually etc.?
Validation and Acknowledgement – do you acknowledge and validate the positive things that you each do for the world and for your relationships? are your good deeds, positive actions, and noble intentions noticed?
Romance – Does the relationship provide for the artistic aspects of love? Is there surprise, passion, lust and excitement in your relationship. Do you court and flirt with each other? Is there thought, time, space, and planning put into engaging romantically with your partner?
Adventure and Novelty – does the relationship provide the opportunity for new experience – for you both to challenges yourselves to grow and encounter new things and new challenges? Does your relationship offer a cure for the trials of comfort and monotony?
Playfulness and humor – Does the relationship nurture your young uninhibited free self? is there laughter and smiles? is there spontaneity and silliness?
Spirituality – does your relationship serve your spiritual growth – does it serve to answer the meaning of life?