Is your relationship in balance?

LEAF-editA relationship can be considered a combination of Commitment, Intimacy and Passion. Think of these qualities as three sides of a triangle. Very few relationships make a perfect triangle, but if yours is way out of balance you may be feeling frustrated, angry, or resentful. Find the shortest side of your “love triangle”, and focus on improving things in that area first. Use the definitions below as a guide.

COMMITMENT Commitment is how dedicated you are to keeping your relationship alive and healthy, or how true you are to your partner. Here are some synonyms: fidelity, responsibility, obligation, duty, seeing things through. Commitment in a relationship means that most obstacles can be overcome, and there is a willingness to be faithful even in bad times. On a scale of one (practically no commitment) to ten (A lot of commitment), how would you rate your level of commitment?

INTIMACY The closeness in a relationship, the things you share with your partner that nobody else knows, the secrets and the common experiences. Intimacy is much more than sexuality and physical closeness, it’s how comfortable you are being with your partner. Can you express yourself openly without any fear of criticism? Do you know they are really listening when you are speaking? Can you be vulnerable without getting hurt? Intimacy in a relationship is what makes you friends and makes you feel each-other’s presence is familiar and comfortable. On a scale of one (almost like strangers) to ten (extremely comfortable and close), how would you rate the level of intimacy in your relationship?

PASSION Passion is the energy in a relationship. The desire to rush home from work just to be with your partner. Passion is the immediacy, the lust, the eroticism, the romance, and the enthusiasm for being together and working things out quickly when there is a problem. On a scale of one (no passion, boring and routine) to ten (fiery and exciting), how would you rate the passion in your relationship?

Examine how your “Love Triangle” would look if each side were one of the qualities described above. Ideally, all three should be in balance. Here a few of many ways a relationship can be unbalanced.

COMMITMENT and INTIMACY without PASSION: This kind of relationship is not in danger of falling apart, but needs some creativity and motivation to ignite the spark it once had.

PASSION and COMMITMENT without INTIMACY: This is like a fatal attraction. Something drives these two partners to be with each-other, but the underlying disappointment is that they cannot seem to make the relationship any deeper, or get to know each-other’s innermost thoughts, desires, and wishes.

PASSION and INTIMACY without COMMITMENT: This relationship feels like a one night stand. The attraction and fire is there, but there is frustration and insecurity about how long it will last.

Communication, by the way, can improve any side of the “Love Triangle.”

PATH FAMILY-editThe following ten questions measure general satisfaction in a relationship. Although the items were selected from authoritative sources and reflect actual symptoms, this test is not intended to replace the diagnosis of a licensed professional. Please BOOKMARK this page for easy access in the future - information is updated daily!

INSTRUCTIONS: Place a check next to the statements that you AGREE with.

Sometimes I feel that my partner doesn't really know who I am.

My partner and I have sometimes gone to sleep at night without having settled serious arguments.

I become jealous when I think my partner finds someone else attractive.

Currently, my partner is unaware of some of my most important desires, interests, and preferences.

I find it difficult to express my deepest feelings to my partner because I often think he/she is not really listening.

When it comes to finances, my partner and I usually cannot agree on how to set priorities.

I am not positive that my partner remains attracted to me.

I find myself no longer buying my partner small romantic gifts the way I used to.

In the past year it has become more difficult to tell what kind of mood my partner is in...

Sexuality in my relationship is sometimes disappointing.

YOUR SCORE IS:

INTERPRET YOUR SCORE:These scores are designed to give you an indication of difficulties you may be having. The tests on this website are NOT intended to replace actual consultation with a professional, nor to result in actual clinical diagnoses. If your symptoms are intense, persistent or become uncontrollable, you are encouraged to follow the therapeutic advice on these pages, discuss your difficulties with family and loved ones, and seek professional assistance through the services available from this website or elsewhere.

0 to 3 - Your score may reflect some of the normal ups and downs of a modern relationship. Use some of the techniques on these pages to enhance the intimacy between you and your partner. It may help to review your responses with your partner, emphasizing that you are content in most areas. If your score was 0, your relationship is probably relatively balanced and emotionally healthy.

4 to 6 - There may be some serious problems with how you and your partner communicate. The two of you may have to work hard to achieve a strong sense of intimacy and commitment. There may be deeper interpersonal issues preventing you from being close to your partner (especially with a score of 6). Use the suggestions on these pages as a start, however, also consider seeking further professional assistance. It may be helpful to analyze your responses with your partner and begin working on the most important issues first.

7 to 10 - Your relationship is in serious trouble! Your score indicates lack of communication and intimacy in several different areas. If you have checked off most of the items on the list, there are few areas that do not need improvement, including how you communicate, interact, and function as a couple. With scores nearer to 10, you may want to rethink the benefits of remaining in your present situation. The suggestions on these pages may not be enough to put your relationship back on track. Professional counseling may be necessary if you choose to work on these problems.

Ten things you can do to improve your Relationship NOW

OCDONE Always make time to talk about how your day went. Even ten or fifteen minutes spent in conversation can help the two of you stay in touch and feel closer. As simple as this seems, schedule this time together and take turns relating some of the events of the day. Try to choose a time that is not extremely hectic. You may have to practice just listening to your partner, especially if you both have very busy days.

TWO Understand that there IS such thing as a good argument. As long as honest feelings were expressed and eventually understood, and as long as there was some conclusion where both partners believed that something was accomplished, then you had a successful argument. Extremely abusive language, sustained hostility, or open threats are NOT part of a good argument.

Avoid knots in communication, or recurring circular arguments that keep going nowhere without ever getting resolved. These snarls of circular logic seem like endless loops and can take on a life of their own. Try to get at the underlying issues behind these kind of arguments, and view them as a puzzle for the both of you to solve. Attempt to see the humor in some of these patterns. Here’s an example:

I am angry that she did not call me to say she would be late.
She resents that I am angry that she did not call to tell me she would be late.
I am hurt that she resents my anger at her not calling to tell me she would be late.
She did not call me to tell me she would be late because she wanted to see if I would be angry that she did not call.
Now I am mad at her for trying to see if I would be angry if she did not call me to tell me she would be late.
She has called me immature because I am mad at her for trying to see if I would be angry if she did not call me to tell me she would be late.
I told her it was mean of her to not call me just to see if I would be angry at her for not calling to tell me she would be late.

You can see that the above argument is going nowhere. If you followed it, you can also see that there are no real issues being discussed or resolved, only underlying anger and petty word play. Try to think of disagreements as opportunities to improve or understand your partner better. Though difficult to develop, this attitude will make almost any argument easier to resolve.

THREE Don’t forget to maintain the “little courtesies”, such as saying “please” and “thank you” and generally showing respect and recognition for everyday things. Even simple the little things become more important, not less so, as relationships mature. Get small, thoughtful gifts even when there is no occasion. Give your partner cards, even when it is not their birthday. Bring home flowers, or a special dessert, or just take time out to show your partner how much you appreciate the everyday things they do. The little things are most likely what attracted your partner to you in the first place.

FOUR Never rely on your partner (or anyone else) to make you happy. Only you can do that. Have your own hobbies, interests, pastimes, and activities separate from your partner. Although it is a goal of a healthy relationship to enjoy things together, doing everything together can result in boredom, resentment, and feeling trapped. If you get satisfaction from your daily activities, you will be more relaxed and content when spending time with your partner.

FIVE Do not assume that your partner will automatically know what your feelings, needs, wants, and preferences are, or what mood you are in. Of course, don’t assume you know what your partner is “really” thinking or feeling. Don’t rely on ESP. Even close partners are not mind readers. If you want to know what your partner is thinking, just ask. If you want your partner to know how you feel, tell them. Take what your partner says at face value, and stop second guessing.

Sexually, learn how to ask for what you want. Again, don’t assume your partner has ESP or Psychic powers. A little bit of talking while being affectionate will help your partner understand your preferences. Don’t be afraid to ask for and give feedback. learn how to listen.

SIX In a healthy relationship, both partners are always growing and improving. Healthy relationships should bring out the best in us. They should inspire, motivate, and enhance our creativity and well-being. If you are waiting for your partner to “change” or actively attempting to make them into something they are not, you may be very disappointed. Individual personality, habits, and general style are not likely to change very much. What you see is what you get!

SEVEN Learn how to accept the natural ups and downs of a relationship. Nothing is perfect, and love will always be accompanied by a certain amount of hurt, tension, frustration, misunderstanding and jealousy. If your relationship is mostly healthy, with a reasonable amount of communication and a minimum amount of anger and resentment, and if you continue to find both you and the relationship growing for the better, you have very little to worry about. It’s those people who never argue that usually make us suspicious!

EIGHT Recognize some of the differences between males and females. MEN: Women enjoy conversation, communicating in groups, and expressing detail verbally. They dream in more detail, interpret situations in terms of personal motives, feelings, and consequences, and appreciate positive feedback for personal accomplishments. Women want to hear words of support and understanding, not advice, suggestions, or harsh criticism. WOMEN: Men enjoy variety, respond well to good-natured challenge, and place a high value on personal space and privacy. In social situations, men are more likely to interpret events at face value. If men display their sensitive or emotional side, be sure to give them positive reinforcemnet. Stereotypes can be very dangerous, but recognizing real differences between men and women is vital in good communication.

NINE Every relationship can benefit from a periodic change of pace. Try a new restaurant. Take a trip to a nearby location chosen at random. Rent a hotel room even if you have privacy at home. Experiment with fantasy. Try a style of clothes that you have never worn. Learn how to be playfully unpredictable. Creativity will keep a relationship fresh. For a sense of romance, try looking at old photographs of you and your partner, read cards and letters that you have sent to each-other, or recount what your first few dates were like.

TEN Give yourself reinforcement after you have successfully tried one of the techniques to improve your relationship, even if the outcome was not exactly what you wanted. It is very important to be “self-rewarding”. Both you and your partner should reward yourselves for working together. Try listening to a favorite CD
together, playing a game, or going out together to a movie, or for some special dessert.
These suggestions are only the beginning! For more about intimacy and balance in relationships, click on the next button below. As with all the advice on these pages, the suggestions are not meant to be a substitute for individual therapy or relationship counseling, but can be used as a starting point for improvement. If you feel that you have a serious problem with anger, abuse or miscommunication in your relationship, please inquire about services available through this website, at the private practice of Fred L. Holtz, Ph.D., or seek other professional sources near you.