Marriage Assessment

This activity is designed to help you assess your marriage relationship. For each of the statements below, rate yourself using a scale from five to one. Five equals almost always, four equals usually, three equals sometimes, two equals seldom, and one equals almost never. Once you have finished rating yourself in terms of all of the items, add your ratings together and divide the total by fifteen. The result will be a marriage score. Generally, marriage scores of 4.0 or higher are found in happy, successful marriages. Importantly, though, you will want to give attention to any item where you have given yourself a rating of three or less and especially to those items where you have given yourself a rating of two or less. In these cases, the first step is to talk about the marriage area with your partner. The next step is to talk with your therapeutic instructor about the specific problem area. He/she will have advice and suggestions specifically related to this marital area. Following the suggestions will lead to your being more effective with that specific area.

Anytime you are experiencing difficulties within your marriage, keep in mind that the only thing you can do is to be the most skilled, the most effective friend-partner-lover you are capable of being. Go back to this activity, rate yourself and be sure to maintain your personal marriage score at a 4.0 level or above for two or three months, being very careful that no area continues at a level under 3.0. Also be sure that you are giving equal attention and emphasis to all three core dimensions: to being a friend, to being a partner, and to being a lover. Neglecting one of these core dimensions or putting off working on it is equivalent to deciding to let your marriage fail.

1. I am clear about what is most important to me in my marriage.

2. I have good personal habits.

3. I am fun to be around.

4. I am willing to take the first step to improve things in my marriage.

5. I keep hassles and arguments short, to the point and under control.

6. I do not try to change my partner.

7. I am open and up front with my partner about what I think and feel.

8. I am clear about what my partner sees as most important in our marriage.

9. I manage involvement and relationships with relatives (or ex-relatives) in ways that make sure they do not interfere with my marriage.

10. I am a good money manager.

11. I do my share to keep our bills from getting out of control.

12. I am sexually skilled.

13. I enjoy sex with my partner.

14. My partner enjoys sex with me.

15. If I were my partner, I would like being married to me.


If both the client and his spouse rate the client high on all fifteen elements in this activity, she is clearly a marriage-effective individual.

Your experience and expertise need to be a rich source of information, suggestions, and specific advise. At the same time, though, you must be prepared to enlist the services of supplementary instructors who specialize in the specific interpersonal areas needing additional attention. Simply keep in mind that the approach is educational, competence-based, and oriented to increasing skill and interpersonal effectiveness.

Focusing on the current activity, the individual's being clear about what is important to him within the marriage should always be one of the first focal areas within the process involving the individual and you. In fact, this area should be discussed even if the individual and his spouse see no particular problem here.

The client should articulate the four or five things that are most important to him, the most important benefits of being married. Similarly, clarity should be developed in terms of what is most important to his spouse.

Suppose that each spouse has five items on their 'most important' list. It may be that some items appear on both lists, although you will find that almost always there are items on each list that are not on the other. The result is ordinarily a list of seven or eight factors that the couple have on their 'most important' list when the two lists are combined. Here is the critical factor. For the marriage to be successful, all of the elements on the combined list need to be understood and responded to in the marriage if the marriage is to be successful. Both individuals need to derive from the marriage all that they see as really important. At an importantly fundamental level, this is what they understand as a successful marriage: deriving those benefits that are viewed as most important. As an instructional focus, you will want to incorporate all of these elements into the marriage enhancement plan.

Being fun to be around may be one of the most important qualitative ingredients within an effective marriage. Being fun to be around, of course, gives emphasis to the quality side of the variable, the quality of life within the marriage. A point for instructional focus relates to being fun in terms of its being a continuing and ever present factor in the marriage. Of course, there are those difficult times, times when things are frustrating, times when things are more serious. The perspective needs to be one that understands and takes into consideration the continuing nature of both the serious times and the fun times. They are interactive and continuous processes that represent important threads within 'the tie that binds.' Sometimes one is more apparent than the other. Over time, though, the importance of both fun and seriousness need equal attention. In fact, if one is going to be emphasized more than the other, the marriage would be well served if the balance is in favor of having fun and being fun to be around.

The last item in the activity incorporates and summarizes what may be the central and essential ingredient in being married with style, all the time, on purpose. 'If I were my spouse, I would enjoy being married to me.' Keep in mind the idea of style as being all the time, on purpose. 'Would you always enjoy being married to you? Are you a model of effective marriage functioning? Would it be comfortable for you if your spouse were to function in a manner defined by your functioning for the next six months?'

Importantly, this does not mean that the spouse behaves exactly as the individual behaves. Rather, it means that the behavior of the spouse is based on the same assumptions, skills, attitudes, and priorities as are the behavior and functioning of the client. Almost always, a commitment on the part of the individual to marriage participation that meets this criterion has the effect of improved marrital interaction and substantially increased socioemotional gain for both participants in the marriage.

Friends Within Marriage

This activity includes thirty statements related to being friends within marriage. As a dimension of the core triad, friendship is an essential element; and difficulties within the friendship relationship may have as much to do with the success or failure of the marriage as anything that may negatively impact the relationship.

1. I am decisive and able to make up my mind about things.

2. I am able to set priorities and decide what is and is not important.

3. I am consistent and predictable.

4. I am able to snap back from losses, disappointments, and those times when things do not work out the way I want them to work out.

5. I have good personal habits.

6. I am assertive with my spouse about what I want and need.

7. I am fun to be around.

8. I am gentle and tender with my spouse.

9. I am relaxed.

10. I am considerate of my spouse's feelings.

11. I listen patiently and carefully.

12. I am accepting and understanding with my spouse.

13. I am willing to give my spouse the benefit of the doubt.

14. I am willing to take the first step to improve things or to make things better.

15. My spouse can count on me.

16. I avoid blaming, threatening, or accusing my spouse.

17. I am helpful to my spouse.

18. I am clear with my spouse about what I want or need.

19. I am positive and supportive with my spouse.

20. I keep arguments and hassles short, to the point, and under control.

21. I hang in there when there is conflict or tension in our relationship.

22. I am tolerant of my spouse.

23. I talk with my spouse.

24. I spend time playing with my spouse.

25. I am open and up front with my spouse.

26. I deal with the ups and downs in our relationship.

27. I have faith in my spouse and convey that faith to him/her.

28. I am comfortable with and accept the changes in our relationship over time.

29. I do not try to change my spouse.

30. I am good at being a friend within our marriage.

Partners in Marriage

This activity works in the same way as the last activity, except this activity focuses on being partners within marriage. Use a five-point scale to rate yourself on each of the items in the activity with five equals almost always, four equals usually, three equals sometimes, two equals seldom, and one equals almost never. You will also notice that the items have been divided into subareas of the partner relationship. Once you have finished, add together your ratings for all partnership items and divide by the total number of statements. This will give you a partnership rating. The same technique can be used for developing a rating within each subsection of the partnership items below. The goal is to maintain a score of 4.0 or higher for all partnership items and within each partnership area. When problems develop, coming back to this activity will be a useful way of keying in on the problem points. Try to get your partnership rating up to 4.0 or higher and keep it there for two or three months as a way of positively responding to the problem points.


1. I keep my bills under control.

2. I effectively manage my money.

3. I avoid unnecessary financial difficulties or obligations.

4. I have and follow a budget.

5. I am satisfied with the material possessions I have.

6. I involve my spouse in major financial decisions.

7. I understand and take care of my financial rights and responsibilities.

8. I deal effectively with the financial difficulties that arise from time to time.

9. I contribute my fair share to the financial dimension of our relationship.

10. I am careful not to place too much or too little emphasis on financial matters.


11. I understand and am sensitive to what my spouse wants for himself/herself.

12. I am clear about what I want for myself outside of my marriage.

13. I understand and respond to the special ways my spouse wants me to show love and caring.

14. I understand how to be and am an active and involved participant in our marriage.

15. I maintain healthy relationships and involvements with friends and relatives - including ex-relatives as appropriate.

16. I relate comfortably and effectively to my stepchildren. (If not applicable, give yourself a rating of '4'.)

Lovers Within Marriage

This activity focuses on you as a lover within your marriage. Using a scale from five to one with five equals almost always, four equals usually, three equals sometimes, two equals seldom, and one equals almost never, rate yourself on the statements below. Once you have finished, add your ratings together and divide by the total number of statements. The result will be a lover score from 1.0 to 5.0. Effective lovers within the marriage relationship maintain a lover's score of 4.0 or higher. If difficulties should develop in your marriage relationship, it will be useful to come back to this activity, rate yourself on the statements, and try to maintain a lover's score above 4.0 for a few months. Frequently, this part itself will result in significant improvement in the overall marriage relationship, including improvement in the friendship and partnership dimensions of the marriage.

1. I am sexually attractive.

2. I make sure that there are enough sexual opportunities.

3. I anticipate sex with my spouse with pleasure.

4. I talk with my spouse about my sexual wants and needs.

5. I am careful not to place too much or too little emphasis on sex.

6. I respond to my spouse's sexual wants and needs.

7. Sex with my spouse is easy and comfortable.

8. I am easily sexually aroused.

9. I am sexually skilled.

10. I function well sexually.

11. I have good sexual timing.

12. I accept my spouse's sexual values and beliefs.

13. I do not make sexual demands on my spouse.

14. I place more value on good feelings and a positive relationship than on specific sexual activities or techniques.

15. I pursue sex with my partner only at appropriate times and in appropriate places.

16. I remain sexually faithful to my spouse.

17. I have let go of past sexual and/or romantic involvements and relationships.

18. I do not accuse my spouse of inappropriate sexual or romantic activities or interest.

19. I do not bring up past sexual or romantic involvements or relationships of mine or my spouse's.

By Gary A. Crow, Ph.D. March 24, 2017