How do you score your relationship?

 

Whether we like it or not, we relate to everyone around us to some degree or other. What type of relationship and to what level or depth that relationship is, is oft times a complete mystery to the participants. They just get on with it – they relate. They don’t necessarily think about the relationship or analyse it in any way. They live it and let it develop in whatever way seems natural or necessary. It is only when a problem appears on the scene or when the direction that the relationship is going in suddenly becomes uncomfortable to one of the participants, that the relationship is looked at and appraised. At that stage it may be too late to quietly disengage as this may cause further problems and heartache, so many a person is content to continue an unsatisfactory relationship rather than face the hurt of separation or look even further to the ultimate disintegration and all the angst that that brings with it.

This essay is an attempt to look at relationship in general and dissect some of its possible aspects, not so much categorising roles or putting value judgements upon them, although examples must be used, as looking at the constituent parts of relationship within the levels of being such as physical, emotional, spiritual etc, which each person owns as being alive and human.

Let me look at each in turn and some of the resulting roles that might be found within them.

It might also be helpful to use this essay alongside an evaluation of a particular relationship that you have with one other person to understand what I am trying to convey. If you are prepared to do this then score the relationship out of 10, where 10 is high and 1 is low. That figure will represent the intensity of the relationship at that level of being. I suggest you also denote a positive or negative association with the number, for although we would like to think that relationships are always positive to some degree or other, unfortunately they can also be intensely destructive. I am sure you can call such examples to mind.

Whether you do this for each subheading is up to you, but I am sure you get the gist of the exercise and can see how it can lead to a better understanding of the intensity of the relationship under investigation at that level. I will remind you of the range of score at the end of each heading and suggest an interpretation of the result at the end of the essay.

 

Physical

Every relationship between living people has a physical element, since everyone living has a physical body. Of course it is possible to extend the concept of relationship to that between the living and the ‘dead’, but I had to draw the line somewhere and that seems an excellent point to do it.

No matter how young, old, healthy or ill a person is sexuality must be a constituent part of their personality and make up. It is not even necessary to define sexuality further and speak of homosexuals, lesbians, transsexuals or straight, and certainly not try to categorise or generalise this with respect to gender. Whatever kind of sexuality is openly expressed or endeavoured to remain hidden within each person it will be a major factor for that person when relating to another. Each of us is unique and sexual drive – latent, active or worn out, will affect behaviour to every other person’s sexual signals.

So what score will you give the physical relationship and what attribute of positive or negative will you ascribe to each? A very low score means little or no regular contact, a middle score may mean a daily contact but no intimacy, while a high score will mean a regular sexual relationship – be it positive and so satisfying, or negative and so abusive.

Ego Centric

A relationship that is simply based upon the physical attraction of the other person to you is essentially a selfish one. Almost by definition there will be a very strong element of the desire for self gratification involved. If you find the other person attractive then there will be a strong desire to appear attractive to them in return, to elicit a similar response. Even if you have no desire to take the relationship into an outward sexual expression, still you make the effort to appear attractive in return, for as a general rule we like to be liked.

I have no wish to take this essay into exploring the realm of courtship, particularly as it immediately necessitates introducing custom and constraint of the participants with all the permutations that such customs entail. I want to look at the underlying mechanisms that take such constraints into account. With that understanding I think it safe to say that, at this physical level – with no other level of being coming into the equation – then the relating is essentially selfish. However, even if we do take into account the emotional level, or any other combination of level of being, we still behave in a particular way to encourage the other person to ‘be nice’ to us in return. Gratification is a major factor – if not the most important factor – that ensures survival of the clan or species.

Range of score is from a 0 of mechanistic sense of conjugal duty to a +10 of transportation to heaven.

 Mutual Attraction

When this ‘making an effort’ is reciprocated, then – in general – opportunities seem to appear that enable the relationship to develop, each looking to the other to establish the boundaries of any physical contact.

No physical relationship is simply one of mutual sexual attraction. Other factors such as money, status, power and security come into the equation to a greater or lesser degree, and these are still elements of the physical level. Gratification can come in many guises, hence the ‘trophy wife’ or ‘toy boy’. However, there is still an acceptance of the rules within the game being played by both participants of a mutual pay off. The trophy wife desires the comfort and life style that being a trophy wife brings, and similarly for the toy boy. The ‘sugar daddy’ is happy to trade off the lack of equal material factors being brought into the relationship in exchange for the envious looks and rise of kudos that such a wife bestows. How much ‘love’ actually exists in the relationship is secondary to the comfort or physical needs that dominate the courtship.

Range of score is from a 0 of the totally one sided and waste of effort to +10 with eyes only for each other.

 Short Term Tacit Contract

The general consensus of opinion often expressed by onlookers to the ‘marriage of physical convenience’ is that nothing will come of it. In other words, even taking into account the jealous or envious response by spectators to the pairing, it would appear that the experience of the many is that a solely physical relationship is a shallow arrangement, and unless a deeper foundation forms between the consenting couple then it is expected to be of short duration. Certainly a long term relationship between individuals where money, celebrity status or physical attribute is openly displayed is remarked upon by others by its sheer rarity. Such contracts are more the exception than the rule. It is almost as if there is a tacit understanding between the players of the game that it is going to be short lived and they need to get the most out of the set up before it falls apart all around them.

A consequence of such a purely physical relationship is that once the attraction palls then the participants begin to look elsewhere for the next ‘high’. There needs to be continual input or reaffirming of the original contract for continuation of the relationship, let alone for it to extend or deepen further. What is rather alarming is that if the expectation of the rules is not followed by one of the partners then the relationship can so easily flip from a positive mutual satisfaction to a negative abusive one. It is unstable for there is no sure foundation.

The extreme example of just the physical relationship is, of course, prostitution. In this situation no excuse or justification is made for being anything other than physical and the contract is openly acknowledged that sex is for sale. No other commitment is entertained and the emotional content is virtually zero. Gratification is the only goal on the agenda. It is ego centric, of short duration, orgiastic and finished with little regret.

Naturally all relationships do have a physical component because we are physical entities, but the vast majority of them do not reach the actual sexual contact stage. Most long term satisfying relationships indeed do have such a component, but they are never solely physical, even though they might focus on employment or the work situation rather than home building, leisure or some such activity. There are always other levels of experience involved, not least emotional respect or even intimacy. A high score for the physical does not mean that it is doomed to be short lived or of little consequence, in fact a high score – along with a good score at some of the other levels of being – will ensure a solid foundation to the relationship with high expectations of satisfaction within a mutually reciprocal intimacy.

Note which way the scoring goes! 0, in this case, is for the one night stand or less[!] and +10 for ‘no end in sight’.

 

 Physical Attributes

Thinking once again solely of the physical relationship with little or no emotional content and concentrating just upon physical attributes rather than the peripheral exchange of status, money etc, the exaggerated display of anticipated sexual prowess or the promise of fecundity comes to the fore. Big mammary glands and hips of the female go alongside the rippling muscles and broad shoulders of the male. Excitement – or the promise of excitement – is being signalled. Then together with the tacit understanding of the probable short term duration of such relationships is the sometimes furtive nature that it engenders, especially if other longer term relationships are going on at the same time. Infidelity is more the norm here, whilst ‘you win some, you lose some’ or ‘there are many other fish in the sea’ can be the catchphrase at this level.

Be honest when you score here, and as balanced as possible. Score for yourself rather than any partner. Too high an opinion of your ‘charms’ is just as bad as too low an evaluation. A negative -10 is for the extreme loathing of your body whilst +10 is the estimation that you are God’s gift to the opposite sex.
If gratification is such a major factor between participants then the orgiastic outcome is the one generally sought. Participation is usually rushed. The need for the greater ‘high’ or stimulation will generally lead to greater risks of discovery or a leaning to pornography or fetish. Lust is probably a better description of the prevailing appetite than is love. The whole is centred on self and needs to be continually self affirming. When the physical dominates the relationship to the occlusion of other levels, then this is surely the hallmark of the hedonist, particularly if constraints of finance, status or power recede.

 

Physiological

When we turn towards the physiological, which is one step removed from the physical, we enter the domain of the sensual. This is less to do with a physical appetite and more to do with the delight in feeling, the coming alive to the sense of touch and stimulation of sight, smell, sound and texture. It reaffirms the whole body as being alive and, hopefully, delights in that experience. It acknowledges your individual likes and dislikes, what turns you on to heightened interaction with all around you, what highlights a relationship or brings it crashing down.

When the physiological interaction is a large component of a positive relationship then there is a delight in giving that sensual enjoyment as well as receiving it. It is based on a sharing rather than just self-gratification; it takes into account the other person with their own idiosyncrasies, their own switch-on buttons; it wants to be included in intimacy rather than get lost in selfish lust.

There cannot help but be overlap with the physical experience, but in this case the motivation is different. There is still the physical appetite that has to be assuaged, but in this situation there is time to experiment, to indulge in extravagance that gives value to the ‘highs’ as distinct to the usual norm. It is the provenance of the poet, the artist and dramatist. It is the realm of romance and roses, of star gazing and sea voyage seduction, of delicious moments of long drawn out foreplay of the affair or courtship. It raises the physical to moments of almost mystical and spiritual awareness. It is living Life that awakens the soul and finds the soul-mate in the other person. It opens the door to long term love with that special person who inspires fidelity, loyalty and trust. It is that special ‘chemistry’ and sharing. It is Eros in action.

Unfortunately it is also the negative realm of masochism.

No doubt the scientist can explain these experiences in terms of libido and hormones, of cycles of fertility and lunar phases, but that does not remove the fact that the experience is heightened when in the company of some individuals and minimised when in the company of others. Perhaps it is all down to hormones and ‘orgone’ energy, of kundalini or sexual freedom, of pheromones or the like that brings a health and sense of well being, but in the relating with that special person there is something that cannot be found with others – unlike the visit to the prostitute or prostitution that sometimes masquerades as marriage.

Sometimes it might be difficult to distinguish between the physical and physiological as they overlap again and again, but when trying to score the marks out of ten it should be possible to look at motivation and get an idea of the give-and-take of Eros as compared with selfish Lust. Have a go – and be honest with yourself. No one knows your score so there is no need to cheat. If you do then you might only hurt yourself but others could easily get caught in the vortex of consequence.

The range of score here is from a negative of -10 of the shuddering revulsion to a maximum positive of +10 of the besotted and ‘cannot get enough’ of the other person.

 

Emotional

It is the emotional level of interaction that usually dominates peoples understanding of relationship but already, I hope, you can see that this might not actually be the reality of a situation. However, we need to dissect this area of experience in greater detail, in similar fashion to the physical and resist the temptation simply to score it high!

Agape

Let me also disillusion you as to the idea of romantic love being truly emotional. It isn’t. The first flush of ‘love at first sight’ is more to do with Eros – the ‘chemistry’ tingle of the physiological experience. ‘Agape’ is the love that endures after this first flush. It is the love that often calls for sacrifice on the part of the individual, sacrifice in that there is a balance between loving others and loving self! Eros tends to extremes – “I cannot live without him/her” but Agape accepts pain and lives with it. It gradually blossoms and lasts – hopefully brightly [but not always so] and hopefully long lasting [but again not always so].

Agape is also the type of love that can exist between parent and child, between long-term friends or between colleagues [especially if those colleagues share danger or trauma that cannot easily be explained or shared with anyone else, even spouse or other close relations]. It does not have to have a sexual content at all, but the knowledge of the other, with all the failings that the other brings, is still very much present. It is the kind of love that is mistaken by a spouse as being a sexual threat, especially if the colleagues are of opposite gender. For the same reason of being considered as possibly sexual in nature, it is often misunderstood by colleagues of the same gender and only acknowledged in a tacit way. It is usually a deep emotion that transcends most of what I have written about up to now, to the point of being sacrificial in the extreme.

The range can be from 0 of the ‘better the devil you know’ and so put up with the partner to +10 of the sacrificial unconditional love that tempts others to take continual advantage over you.

Complementing

Whereas the physiological ‘chemistry’ has a tendency to be transient in that after the ‘honeymoon’ period the physiological response might be just as likely to be painful as delightful, so the emotional complementing takes the ‘honeymoon’ time and builds upon it a far more stable, rather than necessarily longer lasting, base to the enduring relationship. Funnily enough the emotional complementing has a rational counterpart that reminds the person of the good times and takes them through the bad. It enables the ‘heart’ to embrace the frailty of human nature and forgive the mistakes and shortcomings of the other. It papers over the cracks for it reminds each of us of our own shortcomings and how we might cause hurt to the one we relate to. It invites permanence to the relationship that is lacking even in the physiological, for it is at the deeper emotional level that we find we can take off the rose coloured spectacles and still accept the warts and all of the other.

Acceptance of the humanity of partnership develops a mutual respect. Here is the potential for harmony despite the periodic tensions of work stress or hormonal cycles. Here is ground of mutual comfort and security when life’s brickbats come at us thick and fast. Without such stability child-rearing would be dangerous to all concerned. The problems of survival and the huge responsibility of bringing children into the world demands a safe and supportive environment, as can be seen from statistics of divorced family relationships and their related social problems. Emotional stability that is Agape rather than Eros, is essential if the relationship between the consenting contracting adults is to continue or thrive amid the constant battles that being parents bring.

This same kind of emotional love is equally essential between parent and child, even though it may take years to gradually show itself over the essentially selfish appetites of either party. Living closely with someone calls for a special kind of bond to carry the relationship over the dangerous times, and ‘Blood is thicker than water’ is never as true as seen when the step-relationship dominates a second marriage type family.

A +10 here is the mutually recognised ‘give and take’ of real life decision making and reciprocal understanding of ‘who wears the trousers’ at any given time. A -10 is the volatile relationship that evokes self destruction every time one of the participants makes a comment and defends themselves with extreme aggression.

 Affirming the Other

One of the lovely ideals of Agape is that the other is affirmed. If you truly love the other then you are concerned if they are not content or happy. It hurts you. In that sense the other’s needs are recognised and attempted to be fulfilled, even if it causes self [you] to be compromised in some way. This is not easy, no matter how quickly it is stated or desired to be true.

When the other’s needs are fulfilled, even sometimes at the expense of self, then the other hopefully reciprocates as a response in their expression of love to you. It is an awful risk, for it shows how vulnerable the person is in the showing of their need. If that initial need is not fulfilled then pain results. Most important – if your sacrifice to the peaceful running of the relationship is not acknowledged then resentments build up and a cancer to the relationship will develop over time.

“It will be written down in evidence and used against you”. Although true as a caution before an arrest it is also true in the tacit give and take of the long term relationship tension. The cause of pain can seem trivial or profound, but there is no accounting to how a situation offends, thrills or pains an individual. Emotions are not rational – by definition. One person shrugs off infidelity while another finds their relationship shattered. One person’s pain is overwhelming while another’s is hardly worth mentioning. That is why some people find an ‘open’ relationship acceptable while another finds it anathema. There is no essential rhyme or reason.

A long term relationship is built up on trust, understanding and loyalty to contract. Once that is broken – for whatever reason – then the relationship is put in peril. Whatever that contract is it is special and exclusive. So even if forgiveness is extended, it does not necessarily mean that the relationship can carry on just as before the breaking of the contract happened. Trust will take a long time to be rebuilt and its memory of betrayal will always be there in the background to be brought to the fore if other factors strain the relationship to breaking point again.

A negative -10 here is the deep seated resentments that ultimately destroy any goodwill initially generated. A +10 is the discovery of being truly affirmed by your partner’s comments and behaviour.

 Contract

The emotional relationship usually requires a tacit or formal acknowledgement of its existence in some way. Peer bonding comes into this category, which is positively encouraged by the military, corporations, schools, Police and Emergency Services. Some cultures put the family or religion above all else, which is a formalised concept of the bonds of agape, and in this day and age when marriage is not necessarily the norm, and when the relationship goes from Eros to Agape then still there is need for a public declaration or openly stated understanding of the contract.

Whatever the contract, once it is established, then the behaviour of the group or couple is a repeated element of the defining nature. So group meetings with the ritual of ceremony or society dictates, reaffirms the boundaries of the contract. Sexual contact is not only an expression of the love that exists between two individuals, but it reaffirms the contract of long-term relationship to the world.

Unfortunately that behaviour, private or public, sexual or ritual, can so easily become routine and boring that it loses its meaning and emotional content. It becomes an empty shell of the initial rite. It cannot be left to chance but needs continually working upon to update its significance amidst the changing situations that life throws at individuals continually. The physical cannot be neglected, no matter how platonic, sexual, peer bonding or whatever the relationship is based upon.

The range of score here is typically a 0 if the contract is so low key that either partner might finish things tomorrow, to +10 if there is a formal written contract that is legally binding in some way, and both parties hold it in very high regard.

 

Inspirational

One niche or special relationship stemming from the emotional level is the charismatic one that is usually born from a corporate need for leadership arising within a particular belief system, although the inspirational level describes a wider range of experience than just leadership. So, for example, the sculpture of David or the painting of Venus might inspire such an appreciation of beauty that it simply transcends all thoughts of sex or lust and elevates the person into almost an inspirational state of wonder.

The more common example, though, is indeed that of the willingness to follow a leader of charismatic or inspired teaching. Such may be the strength of personal magnetism that the teachings are not necessarily inspected for integrity or veracity. The follower takes the teachings as ‘gospel’ for they cannot be wrong if the ‘leader’ says they are true. So you may get the spectrum of discipleship stemming from the proverbial ‘little old lady’ of the local parish church accepting whatever the vicar says because it is the vicar who is saying it, to the mass suicide of a cult because the leader has promised paradise to all to carry out such an act, and all colours of the spectrum in between. It is true for religion, art, politics, or wherever leadership is needful. No one has the monopoly of this kind of phenomena.

The leader does not have to have the responsibility of initiating the relationship either. It is just as likely for a ‘disciple’ or follower to mistake their feelings and delude themselves as to reciprocity from their leader. This is the most unwelcome hero worship that happens from time to time, especially if the follower is lonely, reclusive and obsessive. Embarrassment may be the least of the participant’s worries if things get out of hand and expectations come crashing down or fantasy takes over to protect the initiator. It is a danger that every parish priest holds somewhere at the back of his or her mind.

Another example, more of a mundane nature, is the pop star or celebrity with his or her fan club. Still the same concept is evident in that individuals willing follow their star and adopt his or her behaviour patterns, likes and preferences, to emulate the celebrity as far as it is humanly possible. It is a form of putting their faith in the star just as it is putting one’s faith in the ultimate – nowhere to the same ideals, sacrifice or reward, but it is still the same mechanism of relationship.

That is why, especially with the modern media at their disposal, the politicians make the impassioned speech rather than the reasoned one. That is why elections and debates are won by the gifted orator rather than the erudite sage.

At the level of the everyday person, this kind of relationship may still develop, although perhaps not to the same level of intensity, but it is apparent in most work situations where the boss has the ability to lead from the front, so to speak. It may not carry the same emotional content of the pop star, political leader or religious teacher, nor are people called upon for the ultimate sacrifice, but the need to work overtime when family commitments are pulling the worker apart, shows that it is still alive and kicking at this very local level. Sacrifice of time, money, energy etc is still sacrifice that the person would not ordinarily or willingly give unless this kind of relationship existed.

The evaluation of this kind of relationship is far harder to fathom, for it might not be possible to distinguish the emotional content within the inspirational level from just the emotional level of relationship per se. It is more likely that the role will tend to dictate the type of relationship that exists, so look to that for guidance first.

I think it best to leave this out of the rolling and building score for the role is so different from the norm of ‘couple’s relationships’ that it is likely to be a stand alone feature.

 

Karmic

I am sure that most people meet others where they have a deep or sudden ‘click’ but cannot explain the reasons why. I am not speaking of the ‘love at first sight’ of the physiological nor the profound agape that is built up over a length of time. I am speaking of having an awareness of some kind of connection to a person, even though you might not necessarily get on with them or like them. In fact it is more likely the fact that the relationship is not attractive or healthy that gives the game away. It is as if there is a reason to the relationship, a working out of something or other or a feeling that it is totally one-sided or ‘unfair’.

Most people would like to think that their partner or ‘soul mate’ is due to a karmic process and so fated. However I would prefer to explain such bonding in the far more prosaic way of normal courtship and development. I am sure some such relationships are karmic in nature, but far fewer than partners would like to claim.

How you assess or score a relationship when fantasy or wishful thinking plays such a large part I am not really sure. Honesty is always called for but there is so much more called for here that I wonder once again if it is best left out of the equation all together, rather than fool yourself to some degree or other. I suggest you acknowledge the possibility of a karmic factor but leave any assessment of it until you are in a position to do so, in other words – in the next life!

 

Religious/ Spiritual/ Mystical

At this level of relationship relating in any way – but sexually in particular – can be impersonal, very personal or transpersonal.  Let me explain.

If the relationship mirrors a spiritual belief or doctrine then the participants might lose something of their individuality within the role. So a priest may enact something of the male godhead and a priestess enacts something of the female godhead, and as the identification becomes stronger so the individuality may become less as the religious role overshadows that individual. The relationship may become rather impersonal! The role dominates the proceedings and the expected role play dominates the relationship within the ritual or worship.

That could well be one reason why the Church of England is having some problems over the acceptance of women priests. There is a measure of confusion as to the relationship and role of both the Celebrant and the congregation. As I look on it seems to me that it is much less a problem of theology as an emotional reaction that is subsequently justified in theology. Certainly the theological arguments leave something to be desired! It appears much more a gut response and a subsequent looking for an argument to carry the day. However, staying within the religious role for now, the spiritual dimension is evoked as any ritual unfolds and, for the Christian, as Christ [the male] celebrated the Last Supper and as the priest celebrates the Holy Communion, there is a clear identification to be made, even if it is not heralded as high doctrine by the Church.

I make the distinction of a religious relationship rather than the inspirational one, which I have looked at already. The two are so closely linked but where the inspirational level is nurtured in care, teaching and charismatic leadership, the religious level can take place with very little charisma being shown. In this situation it is a belief or doctrine that determines the role and expected relationship, not a chemistry or charisma that drives the relationship forwards. Neither is it a matter of faith, for heaven forbid a lay person put their faith in a priest! Faith is put in Christ or the Divine but seldom a man or woman – that is just blind hero worship and the extreme of the inspirational relationship.

At the religious level, the identification with role is likely to precede other types of relationship. So although a relationship may begin within the ritual expectations and be quite impersonal within the stylised behaviour, it may well develop into something more personal and intimate. When that happens then the crossing of boundaries is usually quite marked as a ‘special’ quality is placed upon the developing friendship and it becomes very personal indeed. That is quite a dangerous development for all concerned.

Returning to the things of the spirit, the mystery of worship involves communing with the Divine. The symbol of marriage is used extensively in the Christian and Jewish scriptures, which describes the potential relationship between God and his people, so in worship the ‘marriage’ relationship is echoed and intimacy of Communion takes place. A relationship between Celebrant and congregation can be wonderful, mystical and profound, but it can also be equally disturbing if it is not kept within the boundaries of worship and the time honoured rules that apply.

In religions that are more closely defined by their philosophies of nature and Mother Earth concepts then the roles can easily be seen and described by their sexual connotations. The Sky Father and Earth Mother roles need little explanation and open themselves up so invitingly to a sexual content and rite. The archetypal power that participants can evoke may take them to heights of experience that defy description. Taken out of their religious context the behaviour could be described as being totally immoral and orgiastic but that would be speaking simplistically in the extreme. Of course nature worship opens itself up to such abuse and desecration, but the higher doctrine and behaviour can also be exalting and divine. Sexuality and Spirituality are inextricably linked and no one religion has the monopoly of religious thinking.

Even within the Christian religion, there is no getting away from sexuality when discussing spirituality. The male role of Giver – of seed or self, or Priest and Paschal Lamb – is countered by the female role of Acceptor – of nurturing the seed as the Madonna or Temple Prostitute. Although it may seem to go against all the cherished teachings of centuries of moral and ethical church doctrine and bring distaste to the minds of the righteous, it is still a force that intrudes on the subconscious no matter how religiously upright a person may be. Many a counselling problem is caused by the strictures of a particular moral stance when the subconscious is screaming for a physical sexual release. Then a denial of sexual expression may be the forerunner of a castrated spiritual life that produces a twisted outlook on life – hardly an advert for healthy spirituality.

On the other hand, and within a marriage type relationship, when the physical expression is also an expression of deep intimacy and love – even outside of a religious ritual or understanding, then the repercussions at the spiritual level confirms a communion with all of life and is an affirmation of living. That is beyond creeds and fulfils the sense of complementing the male with the female and vice versa. That is a personal and transpersonal relationship of ‘holy communion’ indeed.

A zero score here indicates very little thought is given to anything other than the immediacy of contact, gratification and interaction. A +10 is seeing the divine in the other and discovering it in oneself as a consequence.

 

Conclusions

No relationship is comprised of only one element. No relationship stays still – it is forever changing as situations impinge and have to be dealt with. Most relationships are complex and need skilful investigation to understand the ins and outs of what is going on or anticipate the consequences that tend to jump up and hit the participants before they know what is happening and why. Most relationships have several levels of operation all at the same time – some positive and strong, some not so positive or apparent. Wisdom is being but one step ahead of the natural progression of things and having some control of a relationship’s development.

This essay is a simple tool that might help you look more deeply at any single relationship. To try and score or evaluate the relationship at any given level can be quite a revelation as long as honesty is to the fore, but what you do with the results is, of course, up to you, for your life is your responsibility. However if you realise that there is need for change then take courage and do something about it before a watershed is passed and dire consequences become inevitable. The very fact that you might employ this tactic suggests that there is room in the relationship for improvement, for usually the very idea of looking at things is unnecessary when all is well.

So how did you score? You notice that the maximum possible score is 100, so if you scored that – well I don’t believe you. This interpretation of scoring is purely subjective on my part. I offer no psychological profile that can back my claims. I flag up a disclaimer in that you evaluate your relationship at your own peril!! However – if you scored 0 or a negative figure then please tell the police, emigrate or run like hell.

0 – 20 would beg the question as to why continue in that relationship or why did you bother to investigate it at all? It almost does not qualify as a relationship. There hardly seems any reason to pursue it for it seems that you get so little satisfaction from it that it does not warrant further work to be done upon it.

20 – 40 would show there are problems present. If you value the relationship then I suggest you seek professional help through counselling, pastoral care and legal advice. Now is the time to take a deep and very honest look at what is going on and decide whether you call it a day before pain and injury is inevitable. The relationship is probably salvageable and could develop into a lasting and satisfying one – but probably not without outside assistance and guidance.

40 – 60 would indicate that you have a pretty sure and stable relationship. It might not be perfect in every detail and there are likely to be more remembered ‘downs’ rather than ‘ups’ as you reminisce but it has much going for it and with a little forethought it could develop into one of those ‘marriages made in heaven’ rather than decline into familiarity that only breeds contempt.

Anything over 60 would indicate a true and realistic grasp of relationship. Here are people who value their partner and retain a self respect that engenders further depths of intimacy over the years. Wonderful.

Anything over 80 and I wonder why you still remain on this earth. You must be made of the stuff that saints come from. That or you are wearing extremely strong rose tinted glasses.
I hope you enjoyed the exercise but don’t take it too seriously, please.

John