Many people are clear about what a “healthy relationship” looks and feels like. But some are not, particularly if they’ve had a history that hasn’t demonstrated this for them to see. If you fall into the “not knowing” category, there are many routes you can take to assess the quality of your relationship (aside from your instincts). You could read a book about relationships, take an online quiz or ask your friends. You could even go to a therapist to help find answers. But if you’re contemplating marriage, it’s important to be clear on where you are starting from. Most start from very positive, secure places but this isn’t always the case.
If you want to quickly ascertain the quality of your own marriage or relationship right now, in this moment, I have a tip. Ask yourself the following question:
“As a whole, do my partner and I have a tendency to turn towards each other – or away?”
Let that question settle in for you and notice what comes up. An important area to contemplate is the way you handle conflict. Does it usually end in shut-downs, hostility, resentment and a lack of repair attempts by one or both of you? Or do you eventually sort through it in way that’s not emotionally damaging?
The reason that this question is telling is that it offers a quick snapshot of the level of emotional safety you feel together; the quality of your attachment and whether or not you feel secure to lean on the other.
If your answer was, “Yes”
Good for you! You should be proud to know that it appears things are going well with your partner and you both feel secure.
If your answer was, “No”
Don’t worry. There are many things that block people from a secure intimate attachment and these issues can be worked through. Now you can begin to more deeply explore why you don’t feel like you can turn towards each other. The more you understand this and work to make change before you get married, the better!
The depth of security issues really dictates the best ways to work on your relationship. Depending on what resonates more with you, a couples therapist or church pastor can help. There are also workshops for couples located all over the country (and world). If the conflict and resentment levels are manageable but can benefit from change, a self-help route might be more your speed.
Now that you’ve taken the first step to assess the quality of your relationship, my hope is that you are proactive in positive change, if it’s needed. A loving, secure, happy intimate relationship is one of the most rewarding of human experiences.