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The Power of the Middle Ground: A Couple's Guide to Renewing Your Relationship Excerpt from The Power of the Middle Ground: A Couple's Guide to Renewing Your Relationship

by Marty Babits



Exercise: Do You Have a Middle Ground?

Attitude survey:

On a scale of one to five where five means you agree strongly and one means you strongly disagree.

1
2
3
4
5
Strongly
Disagree
Disagree
Neutral
Agree
Strongly
Agree
 

1) Before I speak with my partner I think about whether it is a good time to deal with the issue I want to bring up. 

2) Couples need to resolve stressful topics efficiently. Coming back to the same topic repeatedly indicates a poor relationship.

3) We have a number of shared interests and activities.

4) If I need to speak with my partner about something important I will push them to talk even if they protest, "This isn't a good time for me to talk about this."

5) When we disagree a productive discussion will often help us clarify or resolve our differences.

6) Discontinuing conversation before an issue is resolved is equivalent to abandoning the issue.

7) My partner understands what I'm trying to get across a good deal of the time.

8) If two people love each other they should be able to agree on most important issues.

9) My partner listens carefully to what I say.

10) Agreeing to disagree is a sign of failure in the communication process.

11) When it comes to thinking through situations, my partner's style is very different than mine. Still we manage to get beyond style and appreciate that we have a lot in common.

12) When all is said and done, couples should be able to work out problems without having to "work" at it too hard.

13) It's natural for differences to emerge in a long-term relationship. People are complex and when you get to know somebody well, some of what you had thought was clear about them may become less so. 

14) In my relationship with my partner, there are no surprises. We know each other too well for that.

15) Relationships provide a way to learn about aspects of ourselves that, otherwise, would likely remain beyond our awareness.

16) My partner's style is no more or less than a direct reaction to my style. If I say, "Black," they insist, "White." 

Scoring procedure


(1) Total the number of points for even-numbered questions and for odd-numbered questions separately. (2) Subtract the largest score total from the other score total. For example, if odd-numbered questions total 20 and the even-numbered questions total is 10; subtract the even-total (10) from the odd-total (20). The score you have then is 10 with Odd-Greater. If even-questions totaled 36 and odd-questions totaled 18 the final result would be 18 Even-Greater.

Charting Results

For Odd-Greater scores:


0-9
indicates that your relationship has some strengths but is in need of healing. 10-18 indicates possibilities for creating middle ground exist but need to be nurtured with deliberation. 18 or above indicates that a middle ground exists between you and your partner.

For Even-Greater scores: 

0-9 indicates very little good will seems to be established between you and your partner. It will take work to develop a foundation for the middle ground but your may be closer to doing it than you think.  There are some relationship strengths. If the score is between 10 and 18 a middle ground is possible but trust appears to be in short supply. If the score is 18 or above establishing a middle ground will challenge the ongoing trends in the relationship. Relationships in this area tend to be painful and partners often feel despairing about being able to regain a sense of hope and connection. With commitment, dialogue, patience, humility and, for many couples in this range, the help of a qualified counselor, possibilities for middle ground can develop. This can lead to a new beginning in the relationship or, where appropriate, to a disentangling of hostilities which allows both partners to clarify their thinking and examine their goals and options carefully and constructively in an emotionally safe environment.

FOR YOUR PARTNER


DO YOU HAVE  A MIDDLE GROUND?

Attitude survey:

On a scale of one to five where five means you agree strongly and one means you  strongly disagree.

1
2
3
4
5
Strongly
Disagree
Disagree
Neutral
Agree
Strongly
Agree

1) Before I speak with my partner I think about whether it is a good time to deal with the issue I want to bring up.

2) Couples need to resolve stressful topics  efficiently. Coming back to the same topic repeatedly indicates a poor relationship.

3) We have a number of shared interests and activities.

4) If I need to speak with my partner about something important I will push them to talk even if they protest, "This isn't a good time for me to talk about this."

5) When we disagree a productive discussion will often help us clarify or resolve our differences.

6) Discontinuing conversation before an issue is resolved is equivalent to abandoning the issue.

7) My partner understands what I'm trying to get across a good deal of the time.

8) If two people love each other they should be able to agree on most  important issues.

9) My partner listens carefully to what I say.

10) Agreeing to disagree is a sign of failure in the communication process.

11) When it comes to thinking through situations, my partner's style is very different than mine.  Still we manage to get beyond style and appreciate that we have a lot in common.

12) When all is said and done, couples should be able to work out problems without having to "work" at it too hard.

13) It's natural for differences to emerge in a long-term relationship. People are complex and when you get to know somebody well, some of what you had thought was clear about them may become less so. 

14) In my relationship with my partner, there are no surprises.  We know each other too well for that. 

15) Relationships provide a way to learn about aspects of ourselves that, otherwise, would likely remain  beyond our awareness.

16) My partner's style is no more or less than a direct reaction to my style. If I say, "Black," they insist, "White." 

Scoring procedure

(1) Total the number of points for even-numbered questions and for odd-numbered questions separately. (2) Subtract the largest score total from the other score total. For example if odd-numbered questions total 20 and the even-numbered questions total is 10;  subtract the even-total (10) from the odd-total (20). The score you have then is 10 with Odd-Greater. If even-questions totaled 36 and odd-questions totaled 18 the final result would be 18 Even-Greater.

Charting Results

For Odd-Greater scores:


0-9
indicates that your relationship has some strengths but is in need of healing. 10-18 indicates possibilities for creating middle ground exist but need to be nurtured with deliberation. 18 or above indicates that a middle ground exists between you and your partner.

For Even-Greater scores: 

0-9 indicates very little good will seems to be established between you and your partner. It will take work to develop a foundation for the middle ground but your may be closer to doing it than you think. There are some relationship strengths. If the score is between 10 and 18 a middle ground is possible but trust appears to be in short supply. If the score is 18 or above establishing a middle ground will challenge the ongoing trends in the relationship. Relationships in this area tend to be painful and partners often feel despairing about being able to regain a sense of hope and connection. With commitment, dialogue, patience, humility and, for many couples in this range, the help of a qualified counselor, possibilities for middle ground can develop. This can lead to a new beginning in the relationship or, where appropriate, to a disentangling of hostilities which allows both partners to clarify their thinking and examine their goals and options carefully and constructively in an emotionally safe environment.

From The Power of the Middle Ground: A Couple's Guide to Renewing Your Relationship (Prometheus Books, 2009) Reprinted with permission of the publisher.

©2008 Marty Babits, LCSW, BCD, author of The Power of the Middle Ground: A Couple's Guide to Renewing Your Relationship