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By: Lisa Kift, MFT

In my work with couples as a Marriage and Family Therapist, I've concluded that there are certain aspects that determine the strength of a couple's relationship foundation - that is, the relationship's ability to stand strong in the face of the things that life throws out, be it normal daily frustrations or extremely stressful external events.

I've developed a simple checklist that couples can use quickly to get a rough idea of the strength of their own relationships. It's not scientifically based but meant to be a simple guideline providing a framework in which to conceptualize your relationship in a new way. It is divided into three sections and ideally is done by both you and your partner. Make a copy and each of you do it separately. This checklist will help to identify areas that might benefit from further exploration. You can discuss your results together afterward. You might find that it brings up some difficult conversations - if you find yourselves stuck, consider finding a couples therapist in your area to help you navigate through. It's not uncommon for couples to have never discussed some of these issues!

Read each sentence and either put a checkmark by it if you agree - or put nothing if you don't. Go with your initial gut reaction - and remember, there are no "right" or "wrong" answers. The more checks you have, the stronger your foundation likely is.

Relationship Logistics

______ We communicate well.
______ We resolve conflict well.
______ We have discussed and are okay with our relationship roles.
______ We have discussed and are okay with our sexual expectations.
______ We have discussed and are okay with our spiritual beliefs.
______ We have discussed and are okay with our financial management.
______ We have discussed and are okay with our personal, couple and family goals.

Relationship Balance

______ We value each others needs for some independence within the relationship.
______ We spend adequate time together, nurturing our relationship.

Relationship Emotional Safety

______ We feel heard by each other.
______ We feel understood by each other.
______ We feel validated by each other.
______ We feel empathy from each other.
______ We feel respected by each other.
______ We feel loved by each other.

Lisa Brookes Kift is a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist practicing in San Diego, California. She does individual, couples and premarital counseling. For more information see her website at www.lisakifttherapy.com.


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