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If you had to give your relationship or marriage a rating on a scale of 0 being terrible to 10 being out-of-this world awesome, what would you rate it? Why would you give it that rating?  Are there certain areas of your marriage where you can’t seem to agree–like finances or household chores?  Do you need to work on how you communicate?  Do you wish for more love, affection, or intimacy?

As a student in a Marriage and Family Therapy program, I recently got to take a series of assessments which measure the health of your marital relationship.  My husband took the same ones, separately.  When we were finished, I had to score them and write a paper on the experience (a 15-page paper!).  These particular assessments determined how satisfied both partners are with the marriage and with their partners,  how you handle disagreements, how accommodating you are to your partner and your partner is to you, and if you are headed for a divorce.  These were simple assessments, probably no more than a minute to complete, that indicate the health and happiness states of your marriage.

So, a little background information here: 

As most of you know:  I’ve been married before.  I would’ve scored very low on these assessments with my ex. This is my second marriage, and my new husband was the first date I’d had in over seventeen years.  Yikes!  I was so nervous on my first date.  I’d met him on Match.com and we had so many things in common, it seemed like his physical appearance was just a freakin’ “cherry on top” bonus.  Before I got back into the dating world, I made sure I had worked enough on myself not to repeat the same mistakes I had with my first marriage.  I worked intensely hard in therapy, and through the help of EMDR, went through the process in fast forward.  I was ready and oh-so-willing in therapy to wade through the muck of a failed marriage, not to mention intense childhood crap, to come out healthy in the end.  Through the process of healing, I learned to love myself and my own company.  I was okay with being alone for the rest of my life, but I also held hope that there was someone out there who was much more suited to me and my values.

And along came Don, the love of my life…

Don and I have an amazing relationship.  I had already known this before I took the assessments, but it’s always nice to see that validated.  We scored off the charts, incredibly high for our marriage assessments for this class’s assessment assignment. I know I have a loving and rock solid relationship with someone I consider my soul mate.  I don’t take my marriage or my partner for granted–I appreciate and recognize the love we share is special–and I know these thoughts are reciprocated.

So what makes a good marriage great?

  • Appreciation of one another and a feeling of gratitude
  • An ability to respectfully ask for what you need
  • Commitment
  • Honesty
  • Shared values
  • Emotional and psychological healthiness
  • An ability to “own your stuff”
  • Continued growth and an openness to growth
  • Fun together
  • Love and emotional connection
  • Consciousness and awareness

These traits of a great marriage are taken from our book The Secrets of Loving Relationships.  Another important aspect of a good marriage is that your communication is positive and respectful.

But, how about you?  What do you think makes for a great marriage?  What ruins a relationship?