Evaluate Your Marital Friendship/Self-Giving

“Without His help man and woman cannot achieve the union of their lives for which God created them in the beginning, "  Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1608.

The Institute for Marital Healing at Comprehensive Counseling Services has worked with several thousand couples since 1976. Our work has been strongly influenced by the field of positive psychology; that is, growth in character strengths and in virtues, and by the philosophy and theology of John Paul II on marital love and the human person as presented in Love and Responsibility and Theology of the Body.   John Paul II describes the essence of marital love as self-giving and surrender.

Dr. Fitzgibbons discusses aspects of marital self-giving from John Paul II's ( Wojtyla) Love and Responsibility in this video - http://vimeo.com/14241671.

Couples are greatly helped by understanding their vocation to self-giving and receiving through the romantic aspect, friendship and betrothed love in their marriage.  Both marital happiness and personal fulfillment are dependent to a great extent upon a spouse developing a healthy adult personality open to give oneself completely and to receive in kind. 

Each of us bring into our marriages special gifts, however, we also have a predominant emotional or character weakness(es). which can interfere with marital self-giving.  The good news is that if spouses work diligently on addressing their personality and emotional weakness that they can be overcome, particularly if there is a spiritual component to the healing process.   Then, spouses can reach a maturity in self-giving and in the freedom to live, as John Paul II has written, the gifts of love and forgiveness to the full.  Then their marriages and their families can become in John Paul II"s words. "the bulwark of the civilization of love and the hope for the future of humanity."

Below is a list of the major character and emotional weaknesses which can regularly interfere with the marital friendship, as well as with responsible parenting.

Conflicts in the Marital Friendship and in Self-Giving

  • Lack of self-knowledge
  • Selfishness
  • Controlling behaviors
  • Excessive anger
  • Sadness/loneliness
  • Confidence conflicts
  • Negative parental modeling
  • Anxiety and mistrust
  • Excessive sense of responsibility/worries
  • Poor communication
  • Disordered self-giving
  • Lack of charity
  • Character weaknesses
  • Guilt
  • Failure to correct
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Failure to understand the sacrament of marriage
  • Neglect of spiritual life.

The following checklists offer Catholic couples an opportunity to uncover and identify the major conflicts which limit marital happiness. A scoring code is available for the narcissism checklist, the mistrust checklist and the anger inventory.  Other chapters on this site will discuss how these common sources of marital stress can be reduced or hopefully resolved.


The Marital Friendship and the Self-Giving Checklist

The marital friendship and marital happiness are dependent upon the ability of spouses to give themselves to each other, to their children, to work, to the care of the home, to relatives and friends and, in Christian marriages, to God. The marital self-giving checklist helps couples evaluate the quality of their marital friendship, romantic relationship and betrothed love.

Please rate the self-giving in yourself first and then in your spouse by identifying the appropriate number on the following measure.

0 - Never | 1 - Very Little | 2 - Moderately Often | 3 - Very Often

Thinking

Commit to be giving and loving to your spouse, children and others
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Reflect on spouse as a God-given gift to one's life
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Commit to be responsible for spouse
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Recognize one's life is profoundly enriched by one's spouse
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Recognizes the good in one's spouse
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Commit to receive the love of spouse
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Try to understand spouse's needs
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Think of trusting and forgiving daily
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Consider your spouse as your best friend
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Decide not to be overly independent
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Appreciate and be thankful for God-given gifts
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Avoid placing unreasonable expectations on spouse
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Commit to growth in virtues
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Thinking Total:

Verbally

Communicate in a loving, positive and cheerful manner
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Be willing to state how you feel
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Listen
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Share hopes, joys, dreams fears, worries, etc
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Avoid the expression of excessive anger
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Communicate all important issues in one's life to your spouse
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Be honest with your spouse
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Try to avoid being negative or critical
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Able to discuss the Church's truth about love and human sexuality
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Communicate one's needs
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Encourage your spouse to grow
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Offer correction when necessary in a gentle and loving manner.
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Verbal Total:

Emotionally

Receive spouse's love and gifts
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Be affectionate and loving
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Help your spouse feel loved
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Encourage
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Trust daily
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Forgive daily
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Give yourself emotionally and sexually
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Praise and affirm
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Try not to repeat parental emotional weaknesses
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Humbly accept correction
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Overlook weaknesses and be patient
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Avoid rehashing past hurts
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Open to face emotional weaknesses
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Do not expect your spouse to resolve your family of origin conflicts
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Emotional Total:

Behaviorally

Treat spouse as one's best friend and as a special gift
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Be present to your spouse
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Spend quality time with spouse
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Have balance in life
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Place your spouse ahead of work or other activities
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Care for your spouse, self, children and the home
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Return to the home in a positive, cheerful manner
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Plan date nights with your spouse
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Give yourself sexually to your spouse
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Try not to repeat parents' weaknesses
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Give to your children and other relatives
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Be open cheerfully to your spouse's views
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Work on friendships
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Prudence in spending
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Honesty about finances
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Neither neglect nor spoil your spouse or your children
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Do not isolate yourself with the TV, computer, hobbies, etc.
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Avoid controlling or being controlled by one's spouse
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Keep in contact with family members
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Try to go to bed often at the same time as your spouse
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Give oneself romantically and sexually to one's spouse
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Behavioral Total:

Spiritually

Place God first
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Try to be another Christ to your spouse
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Pray for and with spouse
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Go to Church with spouse
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Commit oneself to growth in virtue
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Struggle against selfishness
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Depend on the love of the Lord, Father, Spirit and Our Lady
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Be open to God's plan for children
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Try to form and lead the children spiritually
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Go to the sacrament of reconciliation regularly and even see a spiritual director
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Trust the Lord with your spiritual life, marriage, children, finances, worries, etc
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Spiritual Total:

Now, how do you think you and your spouse do in regard to giving yourselves to the marital friendship?

Numerous marital conflicts develop because of a failure to place a priority on the marital friendship and self-giving in marriages. The chapter on the emotionally distant spouse may now be helpful in understanding how some of the weaknesses in self-giving in marriage can be addressed.

Again, this checklist is meant to give you a qualitative sense of difficulties in self-giving in your marriage.  Therefore, no scoring guide is provided.


Narcissism Checklist

Selfishness is one of the major enemies of married love. This common personality weakness creates significant pain and suffering in marriages and families. It is a major cause of marital anger, conflict and divorce. It turns a person in upon himself/herself, thereby severely damaging the ability to give oneself cheerfully in marriage. Also, it interferes with the development of true betrothed marital love because the person has great difficulty in moving from ďme to weĒ and in surrendering oneself to oneís spouse. Unless it is uncovered and resolved by growth in virtues, selfishness will lead spouses to treat loved ones as objects and not as gifted persons.

The recognition of this weakness is a struggle for most people. Fortunately, with hard work and growth in virtues and with a strong spiritual life, selfishness can be resolved.

Please complete the following selfishness checklist by identifying the appropriate number which applies to your spouse and to you using this scale:

0 - Never | 1 - Very Little | 2 - Moderately Often | 3 - Very Often

Grandiose thinking
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Insensitive to loved ones
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Excessively angry when everything doesn't go as one wants
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Exaggerated sense of self importance
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Very sloppy
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Strong sense of entitlement
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Expects automatic compliance with his or her expectations
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Manipulative
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Uses others to obtain one's ends
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Treats spouse as a sexual object
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Critical of others
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Lacks empathy
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Unwilling to identify with the feelings and needs of others
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Acts like a spoiled child
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Always demands to have one's own way
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Talks about oneself excessively
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Failure to attend to the needs of others
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Is often envious of others
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Believes that others are always jealous of him or her
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Constantly looking at one's reflection
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Tends to avoid responsibility in some major area of life
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Lacks empathy for others
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Lazy
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Failure to care about important matters
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Acts helpless to get one's way
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Clings to the sick role
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Refuses to give oneself romantically or sexually
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Blames others for failures or shortcomings
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Doesn't enjoy giving
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Seeks to be center of attention
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Financially not supportive
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Tries to turn all conversations upon oneself
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Substance abuse
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Plays excessively to avoid responsibility
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Excessive eating
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Always portray self as the victim
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Explosive anger
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Resents doing work in the home
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Obsessed with physical appearance
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
When something goes wrong it's always someone else's fault
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Requires excessive admiration
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Exaggerates physical and emotional symptoms as a way to control
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Lack of genuine interest in others
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Uses others sexually
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Very controlling
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Doesn't pay attention to the person he or she is talking to
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Expects self to be perfect
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Tends to seek power or influence over others
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Lack of temperance
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Reacts to criticism with strong anger
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Unwilling to cook or care for the home
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Goes on own vacations
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Financially irresponsible
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Unwilling to express appreciation to others
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Ruin birthdays or special family events
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Limited openness to children
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Insists on using artificial contraceptives
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Not sensitive to a child's desire for a brother or a sister
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Chooses to divorce rather than to work on marital difficulties
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often

Narcissism Total:

A score below 30 indicates a low level selfishness; a score of 30 to 60, a moderate level of selfishness and above 60 a high level of selfishness.


Mistrust Checklist

The ability to trust and to feel safe is the foundation for self-giving love and for receiving love. If we do not feel safe and relaxed, we can withhold love, be unable to receive love, act angry to distance loved ones or try to control those we love. Uncovering and healing trust wounds, as well as protecting the ability to trust, are essential to romantic love, the marital friendship and to betrothed love.

Significant numbers of people enter marriage with deep unconscious trust weaknesses because of trauma from parental conflicts, divorce, sibling or peer rejection and narcissistic individuals. Often this trust wound is completely unconscious, but emerges under times of stress and is misdirected at oneís spouse.

Please identify the symptoms and the origins of mistrust in you and in your spouse on the following mistrust checklist.

                                                                                              

Thinking

  • Catastrophic thinking (something bad is going to happen)
  • Rigid thinking-a lack of openness
  • Excessive criticism of others (as a unconscious way to distance people)
  • Negative thinking
  • Suspiciousness
  • Hypochondriacal thinking (fear of serious illness)
  • Paranoid thinking
  • Excessive fantasy life
  • Obsessional thoughts of controlling others
  • View reasonable expectations of spouse as control pressure
  • Excessive worrying
  • Difficulty concentrating

Behaviors

  • Numerous controlling behaviors
  • Doesnít listen to spouse
  • Inability to show affection (fearful of being vulnerable)
  • Difficulty praising others (fearful of allowing anyone to be close)
  • Difficulty initiating lovemaking in marriage
  • Doesnít support spouse with children
  • Inability to include others in making important decisions
  • Overly controlling with money
  • Flight from committed relationships by excessive work, hobbies, or other interests - including too many religious activities outside of the home
  • Inability to trust spouse with care of the children
  • Few close friends
  • Compulsive eating
  • Excessive drinking or drug usage
  • Addiction to pornography (escape to fantasy world)
  • Difficulty pursuing intimate relationships
  • Fear of flying, elevators or bridges
  • Tendency to isolate oneself
  • Difficulty in receiving help or advice from others
  • Refusal to allow spouse to discipline children
  • A need to have things his/her own way
  • Withdrawal from others in front of TV, books, computer, etc.
  • Overly strong dealing with others (caused by fear of being hurt)
  • Poor team player
  • Compulsive masturbation
  • Attempt to isolate family from relatives
  • Excessive financial fears
  • Restlessness and hyperactivity (an absence of feeling safe)
  • Aggressive behaviors
  • Criticizes spouse in front of children
  • Tries to cut spouse off from friends
  • Lack of responsibility for spouse

Emotions

  • Regularly irritable or hostile (anger keeps others at distance)
  • Overly anxious
  • Panic attacks
  • Overreaction emotionally to minor life events
  • Rarely relaxed or peaceful
  • Bad temper
  • Overly upset if things donít go as planned
  • Very lonely (fearful of being vulnerable and of receiving love)
  • Fear of the future
  • Emotional rigidity
  • Lack of gentleness
  • Easily fatigued
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Social anxiety

Physical Health

  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Muscle spasms in different parts of the body
  • Colitis
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Vulnerability to all major diseases if mistrust persists for years
  • Severe headaches
  • Muscle tension
  • Light headedness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Rapid heart beat

Spiritual Life

  • Weak spiritual life
  • Difficulty in listening
  • Limited ability to pray
  • Excessive restlessness in meditation
  • Difficulty in meditating
  • Withdrawal into religion (excess religiosity)
  • Limited ability to receive Godís love
Symptoms Total:

A score below 10 indicates mild mistrust, a score between 10 and 20 shows moderate mistrust and above 20, severe mistrust.

Now please rate the origins of trust weaknesses in you and in your fiance/fiancee below.

Origins of Mistrust at Different Life Stages

Childhood

  • Emotionally distant, unaffectionate parents
  • Excessive time in day care
  • Modeling after fearful, mistrustful or overly controlling parent
  • Serious illness in a parent, sibling, or oneself
  • Parental separation or divorce
  • Alcoholic or narcissistic parent
  • Loss of a parent, brother, sister, or close friend
  • Legacy of mistrust and fear in the family
  • Weak confidence
  • Rejection by peers
  • Victimization by the excessive anger of others
  • Poverty

Adolescence

  • Same causes as in childhood
  • Poor body image
  • Difficulty in playing sports
  • Parental separation or divorce
  • Post abortion trauma
  • Treatment as a sexual object

Adult Life

  • Same as in childhood and adolescence
  • Repetition of the weakness of a mistrustful parent
  • Lack of secure feeling with one's spouse
  • Insensitive treatment by a spouse or children
  • Controlling, angry or selfish behaviors in one's spouse
  • Weak confidence
  • Betrayal by loved ones
  • Divorce
  • Unjust treatment by bosses or co-workers
  • Financial pressures
  • Treatment as a sexual object
  • Loss of job
  • Loss of health
  • Rejection by significant others
Origins of Trust Weakness Total:

The chapter on the controlling spouse may be beneficial in helping spouses understand how they can reduce their conflicts by strengthening their trust. It can also assist spouses in their dealing with controlling tendencies in others. Presently, marital problems arising from mistrust and control conflicts result in this chapter being the most frequently visited one on this website.


Anger Checklist

Excessive anger is one the most common causes of marital conflict. Fortunately, when this unique and powerful emotion is uncovered and addressed, its negative influence on marital love can be reduced significantly and often resolved. When anger is removed from the heart, a spouse regularly rediscovers love for the other spouse.

Please rate yourself and your spouse on the anger mistrust checklist as follows Ė

Active Marital Anger

Mild

  • Irritable
  • Excessive quarreling or arguing
  • Impatient
  • Frequently frustrated
  • Frequently annoyed

Moderate

  • Lies
  • Overly aggressive & antagonistic
  • Sarcasm
  • Excessively competitive
  • Bullying of others
  • Jealous
  • Chronic violation of rules at work
  • Callous
  • Hostile
  • Excessive swearing
  • Overly critical
  • Rude
  • Tries to ruin someoneís reputation
  • Quits jobs regularly
  • Negative

Severe

  • Verbally abusive
  • Stealing and forgery
  • Arrest record
  • Violent acts against people, property, or oneself
  • Threats of violence
  • Repeated drunkenness
  • Excessive recklessness
  • Fire setting
  • Disregard for otherís safety
Active Anger Total:

Passive-Aggressive Marital Anger

Mild

  • Always late/leaves early
  • Deliberately sloppy
  • Uncooperative attitude
  • Acts forgetful
  • Procrastinates - deliberately puts things off
  • Twists the truth
  • Refuses to do what is reasonably expected
  • Door banging
  • Withdrawn
  • Deliberately slow
  • Pretends not to hear or see
  • Walks out on people
  • Refuses to listen
  • Manipulative
  • Rehashes the past

Moderate

  • Refuses to clean the home or oneself
  • Acts sick or helpless
  • Overly stubborn
  • Withholds support
  • Works markedly below one's ability
  • Impulsive - failure to plan ahead
  • Deliberately avoid or ignore someone
  • Refuses to function as a responsible parent or spouse
  • Distances others
  • Always negative
  • Refuses to praise or compliment
  • Deliberately makes mistakes
  • Silent treatment
  • Wonít communicate
  • Absenteeism in work
  • Refuses to be responsible
  • Refuses to work regularly
  • Enjoys seeing people become upset
  • Divisive

Severe

  • Refuses to eat
  • Doesnít receive love
  • Deliberately fails at work
  • Refuses to take care of a serious health problem
  • Withhold love from a spouse
  • Failure to attend to the needs of the spouse or children
  • Avoids intimacy
  • Undermine childrensí trust/respect for spouse or other important relatives/friends
  • Deliberately tries to be sick
  • Always in victim role
  • Failure to pay bills
  • Con-artist
  • False accusations
  • Neglect of the home
Passive Anger Total:

The chapter on marital anger should be helpful in managing and in diminishing anger in your marriage and family.

Mid-Survey Coffee Break

We want to suggest that you might consider now taking a break in this survey for a few hours or a few days.

Evaluate your anger - Fitzgibbons Anger Inventory

Finally, consider rating your anger on another measure, the Fitzgibbons Anger Inventory, which we have been using for almost 20 years. This inventory is the only measure in this chapter which has been demonstrated in a research study to be a quantitatively valid measure. Please answer by identifying the appropriate number using this scale on the following anger checklist:

0 - Never | 1 - Very Little | 2 - Moderately Often | 3 - Very Often

Are you irritable at work, school, or home?
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Do you lose your temper when driving or riding in a car?
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
When asked to do something at home, work, or school do you tend to procrastinate?
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
When angry do you give others the silent treatment?
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Do you have difficulty allowing people to become close to you?
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Are you tense or critical during meals?
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Are you frequently in a hurry or impatient?
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Do you lose your temper?
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Do you feel you could hurt someone if you expressed your anger?
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
When angry do you act as if you have forgotten what you have been asked to do?
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Does the expression of anger make you feel strong or give you pleasure?
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Do you have difficulty giving praise or expressing thanks to others?
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Do you have thoughts of punishing or hurting others by withholding your love?
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Are you often late for work, school, appointments, engagements, etc.?
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Do you have angry outbursts or tantrums?
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
When angry do you deliberately make mistakes or perform tasks slowly?
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Do you ever have thoughts of hurting yourself?
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
During the evening are you angry or critical?
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Do you think of punishing those who have disappointed you by hurting yourself; for example, through illness, alcohol, drug usage, dangerous behavior, or through failure in important areas of your life?
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Are you overly polite and apologetic when you are angry or provoked?
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Do you find yourself being very competitive?
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Do you isolate yourself at home, work, or school?
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Do you experience thoughts or feelings of prejudice against others?
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Do you initiate quarreling or are you often argumentative?
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Is it difficult for you to give up your desire to seek revenge against those who have hurt you or someone you love?
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Do you drink excessively?
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Do you act in an aggressive manner with others?
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Are you manipulative?
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Do you have difficulty trusting people?
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Do you tend to over react to minor events?
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Do you attract others and then push them away when you know they are attracted to you?
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Do you enjoy violent films or books?
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Do you feel angry about your responsibilities?
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Are you critical of those with whom you live in regards to their abilities or physical appearance?
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Do you fantasize expressing anger physically against those who have hurt you or someone you love?
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Do you find yourself trying to control others?
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Would you rather be with animals than with people?
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Are you disappointed with yourself?
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Do you have difficulty accepting your anger when you've been disappointed or hurt?
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Do you misdirect your anger?
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Do you provoke others?
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Do you become angry when you reflect on the events of the day?
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Do you have difficulty allowing people to touch you?
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Overall Total:
Trust Score:
Passive-aggressive Score:
Violent Potential Score:

Interpreting the scores:

  1. Overall Total less than 45 - Mild Anger
  2. 45 to 65 - Moderate Anger
  3. Over 65 - High Anger
  4. Over 6 on the Trust score - Significant
  5. Over 9 on the Passive-aggressive score - Significant
  6. Over 7 on the Violent potential score - Significant

Parental Legacies

One of the most common conflicts in marriages, which emerges unconsciously, is that of repeating a major emotional, behavioral, relational or spiritual weakness of a parent. This difficulty can arise even if the spouse had decided previously not to repeat this specific parental weakness in their marriage and family life. For example, someone might have thought, ď I will not overreact in anger or be emotionally distant as my father was or I will not repeat my motherís tendency to control or not trust my spouse,Ē only to discover the negative parental pattern being repeated.

Although the parental modeling process from early childhood has a strong influence on later relationships, parental weaknesses can be identified and resolved. At the same time, parental gifts and abilities can be identified and embraced.

Emotional Traits

  • Emotionally giving and affectionate
  • Able to receive love and affection
  • Hopeful
  • Cheerful
  • Forgiving/controlled temper
  • Trusting
  • Confident in God-given gifts
  • Encouraged others
  • Praised and complimented
  • Was able to take correction
  • Not obsessed with appearance
  • Able to receive affection
  • Avoided rehashing past hurts
  • Open to face emotional weaknesses
  • Did not place unreasonable expectations upon your spouse or children

Behavioral Traits

  • Good communicator
  • Hardworking
  • Spent quality time with spouse and children
  • Sought balance in life
  • Placed spouse and children ahead of work or other activities
  • Cared for your spouse, children and the home
  • Gave to your children and other relatives
  • Worked on friendships
  • Prudence in spending/good financial manager
  • Temperate with food, drink, exercise, work
  • Honesty about finances
  • Neither neglected nor spoiled spouse or children
  • Self control with TV, computer, hobbies, etc.
  • Avoided controlling or being controlled by spouse
  • Kept in contact with family members
  • Invited family and friends into the home
  • Dependent upon spouse and others in an appropriate manner
  • Good listener

Character

  • Tried to grow in virtues
  • Generous/not selfish
  • Kind
  • Compassionate
  • Patient
  • Humble
  • Strong and courageous
  • Prudent
  • Cheerful
  • Concern for justice and the poor
  • Temperate
  • Modest
  • Thankful
  • Sincere/truthful
  • Solidarity with others
  • Detached
  • Gentle

Intellectual Life

  • Enjoyed reading
  • Encouraged intellectual development in spouse and children

Spiritual Life

  • Strong faith
  • Love
  • Hope
  • Prayerful
  • Placed God first
  • Dependent on God
  • Tried to be another Christ to spouse and children
  • Went to Church with spouse
  • Shared faith with others
  • Prayed with spouse
  • Tried to seed Godís will
  • Depended on the love of God
  • Opened to Godís plan for number of children
  • Tried to form and lead the children spiritually
  • Went to the sacrament of reconciliation regularly
  • Trusted the Lord with all concerns: marriage, children, finances, work, etc.
  • Supported and communicate the teaching of the Church on sexual morality
  • Not obsessed with material possessions
Gifts Total:

What are the most important gifts/strengths which you have acquired from your parents?

Which parent have you modeled after the most?

Weaknesses in Parents

Emotional Traits

  • Sad
  • Unable to communicate love or praise
  • Irritable, bad temper
  • Insecure
  • Anxious
  • Controlling/mistrustful
  • Emotionally distant
  • Difficulty receiving love
  • Negative
  • Critical, unable to praise
  • Unable to accept correction
  • Obsessed with appearance
  • Unwilling to address emotional weaknesses
  • Unreasonable expectations placed upon spouse and others
  • Self-centered
  • Rebellious
  • Rude

Behavioral Traits

  • Didnít spend quality time with spouse and children
  • Unbalanced life
  • Resentful of giving in the home or at work
  • Outside interest more important than spouse and children
  • Failure to care properly about needs of spouse, children and the home
  • Unwilling to set aside time for spouse and children
  • Lacked enjoyment in giving to children, relatives or friends
  • Unwilling to work on friendships
  • Poor judgment in spending / not good with finances
  • Lack of temperance with food, drink, exercise, work
  • Not honest about finances
  • Tendency to spoil spouse and children
  • Isolation with the TV, computer, books, hobbies, etc.
  • Controlling
  • Allowed oneself to be controlled by spouse
  • Lack of contact with family members
  • Acted independently of spouse
  • Lazy

Character

  • Rude/harsh
  • Selfish
  • Lack of compassion or empathy
  • Tendency to gossip
  • Impatient
  • Unkind
  • Proud
  • Weak
  • Imprudent, lack of discretion
  • Negative
  • Lack of concern for justice and the poor
  • Intemperate
  • Lack of modesty
  • Ungrateful
  • Insincere/untruthful
  • Lack commitment to others
  • Obsessed with possession

Intellectual Life

  • Avoided reading
  • Discouraged intellectual development of spouse

Spiritual Life

  • Weak faith
  • Not hopeful/presumptuous
  • Limited charity
  • Not prayerful
  • Placed self first
  • Act as though there were no need for God
  • Embarrassed by faith
  • Did not go to Church with spouse or children
  • Not concerned about Godís will
  • Not open to Godís plan for number of children
  • Did not try to form and lead the children spiritually
  • Did not go to the sacraments regularly
  • Did not trust the Lord with marriage, children, finances, worries, work, etc.
  • Did not communicate the teaching of the Church on sexual morality
Weaknesses Total:

What are the major weaknesses which you have acquired from your modeling after your parents?

What are the major weaknesses which you think your spouse may have acquired from your modeling after his/her parents?

The most common negative parental legacy we see in husbands is a tendency to be emotionally distant and in wives to act in a controlling manner.  You might want to move ahead to the parental legacies chapter to learn how one can be loyal to parental gifts and work to resolve parental weaknesses one is repeating in married life.

Confidence Checklist

Confidence in oneís God-given gifts and abilities and in oneís vocation strengthens the ability to receive and to give love and to cope with many stresses and problems.

Please rate yourself and your spouse on the following confidence checklist.

0 - Never | 1 - Very Little | 2 - Moderately Often | 3 - Very Often

Verbally

Rarely communicates love
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Unable to discuss marital conflicts
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Overly critical
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Difficulty in praising others
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Overly quiet
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Unable to correct
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Ridicules spouse in front of others
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Brags about accomplishments
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Fails to help spouse feel special
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Self-critical
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Pressured, rapid speech
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Puts others down to build self up
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Tries to provoke/challenge others
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Exaggerates accomplishments
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Verbal Total:

Behaviorally

Distances spouse
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Overly driven to prove oneself
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Hyperactive
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Preoccupied with appearance
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Lack of sexual intimacy
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Difficult to please
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Workaholic
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Acts in an arrogant manner
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Does not treat spouse as one's best friend
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Treats spouse like a sexual object, not a person
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Highly competitive
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Doesn't listen to others
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Excessive need for attention
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Substance abuse
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Compulsive sexual behaviors
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Unable to accept promotion
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Isolates oneself
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Compulsive use of pornography
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Needs to be the center of attention
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Not a good team player
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Treats others as though they were inferior
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Lack of close friends
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Looks excessively for affirmation from others
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Tries to control others
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Divisive
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Excessive need to be with parents
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Unable to help others feel good about themselves
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Doesn't work on friendships
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Compulsive masturbation
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Behavioral Total:

Thinking

Chronic thoughts of inadequacy
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Fantasies of superiority
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Obsessed with weaknesses
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Perfectionistic
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Critical thinking about others
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Preoccupied with insecurities about work, marriage or child rearing
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Negative body image
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Places parent(s) ahead of spouse
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Belief that one has little to offer others
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Sense of being unworthy of being loved
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Obsessional thinking about mistakes
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Thinking Total:

Emotionally

Difficulty in showing love
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Jealousy
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Excessive anxiety
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Depression/sadness
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Difficulty in receiving love
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Lack of attention to romantic aspect of the marriage
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Strong anger
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Fear of correcting others
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Emotionally distant
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Social anxiety
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
A sense of being unworthy of being loved
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Mood swings
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Self-hatred
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Restlessness
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Loneliness
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Can't accept praise
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Panic attacks
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Conflicts with shame
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Inappropriate guilt
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Lack of cheerfulness
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Excessive need for emotional support
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Performance anxiety
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Fear of communicating the Church's teaching on sexual morality and faith
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Emotional Total:

Origins of Weak Confidence

Please complete the following checklist to identify the origins of weak confidence:

Childhood and Adolescence

  • Weaknesses in parent or lack of affirmation or affection
  • Insecure parent(s)
  • Parental divorce or separation
  • Parental anger
  • Excessive quarreling between parents
  • ADHD
  • Poor body image
  • Sibling rejection
  • Modeling after an insecure parent
  • Poor academic performance
  • Sense of disappointing parent(s)
  • Poor athletic abilities secondary to lack of eye-hand coordination which is necessary for baseball, basketball, football, soccer
  • Few friendships
  • Lack of faith
  • Anger in teachers, culture, media against the teachings of the Church
  • Excessive anxiety
  • Sexual abuse victimization

Adulthood

  • Marital conflicts with lack of affection, praise, friendship, romance
  • Lack of balance in married life
  • Career stress
  • Financial worries
  • Rejection in dating relationships
  • Poor body image
  • Family rejection
  • Lack of faith
  • Lack of trust
  • Anger against Judeo-Christian morality in the culture, workplace, etc.
  • Media bias against the Church
  • Unemployment
  • Poor body image
  • Recipient of excessive anger/criticism at work
  • Negative cultural pressures
  • Divorce
  • Abortion
  • Contraceptive use

Origins of Weak Confidence Total:

The chapter on strengthening confidence in spouses should be posted on this site in several months.

Marital Communication

A vital aspect of martial self-giving is that of communication with a spouse. Good marital communication is essential to maintaining and strengthening the marital friendship and love and to uncovering and reducing various types of stress. Dr. John Gottman, who is a renowned student of marital communication, has recommended that in order to have a healthy marriage there should be five positive comments for each negative comment.

Gary Chapman's, The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to your Mate (1992) , is an outstanding book for engaged couples which can help them to understand the primary love language of each person. These love languages are:

- words of affirmation
- physical touch
- quality time
- receiving gifts
- acts of service.

The other very important language of love is that of sacrificial giving and loving. Engaged couples benefit from recognizing that they will be called in the vocation of marriage to deny themselves and to give themselves in a sacrificial manner and that they do not have to fear such giving, especially to children. The major obstacle to such Christ-like giving in marriage is selfishness, described by many as the major "enemy" of marital love.

The most common communication weakness we address in men is that of modeling after a father who did not communicate in a generous, cheerful and positive manner with his wife. The most common weakness we identify in women is that of communicating in a controlling manner which is experienced as being disrespectful.  This controlling tendency arises most often from modeling after a controlling parent or from having difficulty in trusting the father in childhood and adolescence. The good news is that these acquired weaknesses can be overcome and the process is described in the parental legacies chapter.

As Pope Benedict has written in the Colloboration between Men and Women in the Church and in the World, that men have unique gifts which enable them to act calmly on behalf of the lives of loved ones. The special relational gifts and emotinal sensitivity to others in women can assist men in growing in their communication skills .

Please rate yourself and your spouse by choosing the appropriate option on the marital communication scale below.

Positive Style Negative Style
Giving vs. Withdrawn
Active listening vs. Indifferent or constant talking
Appreciative vs. Critical
Trusting vs. Anxious, mistrustful
Accepting vs. Controlling, demanding
Confident vs. Insecure, sarcastic
Cheerful vs. Sad
Gentle vs. Irritable
Relaxed vs. Tense
Respectful vs. Demeaning/proud
Charitable vs. Selfish
Complimentary vs. Difficulty in praising/undermining
Honest vs. Unable to discuss conflicts or to correct
Positive vs. Negative, gossipy
Mature vs. Dependent, childish
Encouraging vs. Unsupportive
Forgiving vs. Passive-aggressive (silent treatment, cold, etc.), aggressive
Positive Total: Negative Total:

Do you recognize how positive and loving communication strengthens and builds your spouse's confidence and helps with his/her stresses?

Sections in the chapters on parental legacies, marital anger and the emotionally distant spouse can be particularly beneficial in improving the self-giving which is essential for marital communication.


The Role of Virtues in Strengthening Marital Friendship

Growth in virtues strengthens the character or personality and facilitates self-giving and receiving in the marital friendship. Pope John Paul II wrote in his first encyclical, The Redeemer of Man, "To be sincere gift of themselves human persons must possess a full freedom which comes only from mastery of oneself." The virtues enable us to gain greater mastery over ourselves.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1803, states, "A virtue is a habitual and firm disposition to do the good. It allows the person not only to perform good acts, but to give the best of himself. The virtuous person tends toward the good with all his sensory and spiritual powers; he pursues the good and chooses it in a concrete way. The goal of the virtuous life is to become like God." A daily commitment to lead a virtuous life enhances one's ability to be positive and hopeful and to see the goodness in one's spouse.

Please rate the frequency with which you see the following virtues in your spouse and in yourself using the scale below:

0 - Never | 1 - Very Little | 2 - Moderately Often | 3 - Very Often

Love
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Hope
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Faith, trust
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Generosity
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Fortitude/Courage
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Temperance
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Justice
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Compassion
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Self-denial, Self-control
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Loyalty
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Cheerfulness
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Forgiveness
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Confidence
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Temperance
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Wisdom
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Prudence
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Responsibility
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Humility
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Gentleness/Kindness
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Chastity/Modesty
Never Very Little Moderately Very Often
Total:

I hope you don't feel discouraged. The conflicts which interfere with marital friendships and with self-giving can be resolved.   If you have identified weaknesses in yourself, please consider reading pertinent the chapters in this site.  If you would like your spouse to grow in certain areas, you should have the freedom and courage to ask him/her to address your concerns. Too often spouses cannot make such requests because of their insecurities, fears and failure to trust the Lord fully with their marriages.  Some couples preceed such a discussion by praying for a spouse's weakness and by bringing to mind St. Thomas Acquinas' wisdom that love is wishing the best for the other.