It was irresistible. One of those love quizzes – “score the strength of your marriage or relationship” – you know the sort. Testing romance, compatibility, communication. So I took a few minutes and went through the questions.
First I answered from the perspective of my current relationship, now three years old. As for the result: “Great relationship!” The score landed me in the top tier, explaining that we go through bumps like everyone, but all the foundational elements of a strong bond are present.
Following the directions one more time, but answering with respect to my marriage, the score dropped me down to the bottom of the barrel, with a somewhat politely worded designation: relationship concerns.
Further elaboration suggested there were fundamental flaws that may be a challenge to overcome.
Cosmo Quiz, Anyone?
So how do I feel about this sort of compatibility quiz and its findings? How would you feel? Like you were dumb during marriage but you’ve gotten smarter (or luckier) in the years after?
Now I can’t say I put great store in this sort of evaluation anymore than I gave much credence to long, long-ago Cosmo quizzes on sex appeal, whether or not a guy “liked me,” or if “it” could possibly be the big L. You know. Love.
But the questions surprised me. They took an approach that seemed atypical, at least to me, not that I’ve glanced at anything of this sort in a very long time. Still, the quiz touched on the beginnings of the relationship, support of one’s interests and goals, jealousy or regret in a hypothetical, one character question and viewing the relationship through the eyes of an outsider – in other words, a friend.
There was also a question relative to what you might say to your children looking back, as to why you stayed in the relationship, and the value of it to them.
Questions Get Us Thinking
How often do we look at our own actions and choices from the outside in? Would we see more clearly if we viewed our lives as if we were viewing that of a friend? Might we see the situations we’re living with more clearly?
One of the aspects of this quiz that was informative was going back to my relationship beginnings. Some people put so much store in the beginning, they forget about whatever takes place later on. But in looking at those early days, they focus on romance, outings, fiery sex. They don’t necessarily reflect on the warning signs – behaviors that prove to be problems in the future, that we see, that register, but we turn a blind eye.
Even so – aren’t we all typically at our best as a relationship commences? If this is us at our best, shouldn’t we pay more attention to bad behavior?
Reflecting on my current situation, I realize that certain elements of rapport were there right from the start – critical elements at that – and no red flags of any sort. This wasn’t the case in my marriage. That alone is enlightening!
Do Beginnings Predict the Future?
I believe in the importance of beginnings, though I don’t believe we should dwell there. Nor do I believe that they are entirely predictive of the future, but they certainly are telling: Beginnings are typically fun, exciting, romantic… the “good” always outweighs the “bad,” though it’s inevitable that real life will eventually catch up.
My questions then become:
- Have we traded that excitement for something even more satisfying?
- Are there sufficient moments of excitement, fun or romance to sustain us both?
- Looking back at the beginnings from the “middle” – were our perceptions of this partner on target?
- Did we ignore critical issues now proving to be obstacles?
- If we’ve veered off target, how do we get back on track?
At least, these are the questions I would pose to myself. My answers from the middle of marriage would have been very different from the answers in the midst of my current relationship. Not only does this quick quiz score reflect that fact, but I would be remiss if I didn’t note that the situations are very different.
Marriage: Hard Work, No Guarantees
During marriage, I was raising children and, for most of it, working a corporate job. I was part of a whole other world, two worlds really, that no longer apply. While I wouldn’t say I have more time now – I don’t – I am not caught in the commotion of young children, conflicting schedules, conflicting priorities as I was then. My mindset is different, as my circumstances have changed.
What has that to do with anything?
There’s less time for fun, less mental space for it, less energy for everything when you’re stuck in the land of “doing it all” as many working mothers are. Even if my current partner, also divorced after a long marriage, had been the man in my life at that time, it’s hard to discern if our relationship would have survived much less flourished.
Timing is always important, stage in life matters, and what works for four years may not for fourteen. We may be tested in ways we could never anticipate. I like to think we all rise to the occasion (thanks to our better angels and a strong, loving foundation), but life is never so simple. So we keep our eyes open, give our hearts, and do our best, don’t we?
The quiz I took was “How Strong Is Your Relationship” at Psych Central, which features a number of short, focused quizzes on a variety of topics. Try this one. Let us know what you learned.
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