Vail Relationships column: How to prevent a divorce or break-up |

Vail Relationships column: How to prevent a divorce or break-up

The following questions will help you evaluate what kind of partner you are, how you’re doing and what changes would help you to be a better spouse.

Answer the following questions honestly and thoroughly. It will help for you to write your answers down or type them up because you won’t remember them otherwise, and this is a list you may need to refer to often. Write as many answers as you can to these questions, rather than being satisfied with one or two answers.

If your spouse or partner were being fair and completely honest, then how would he or she describe you?

How well do you handle anxiety? Guilt? Shame? Blame? Defensiveness? Fear? Depression? How frequently do these emotions, directly or indirectly, come out toward your spouse or partner? To what degree do you expect your spouse to fix or soothe these emotions?

How well do you foster connection, cooperation and compatibility?

Does your spouse feel respected by you? Does he or she feel appreciated for his or her contribution toward you and toward the family? How do you show that appreciation?

How often are you resistant to closeness and connection? How often are you withdrawn, in your own world or otherwise emotionally not present when your partner is around?

What changes would make the biggest difference in how the two of you parent your children?

When you get angry, what do you do? Do you yell? Slam doors? Call him or her names? Withhold affection or sex? Close down emotionally? Quit communicating? Stay distant? Use cold silent treatment? Get critical and judgmental? Get easily irritated and argumentative? What would be more effective?

What makes you a great partner?

What would your spouse say he or she would like you to do differently?

How nurturing are you to your spouse? How affectionate? How romantic are you on a day-by-day basis? How responsive are you to him or her? How consistently loving are you?

Have you made clear what you would like your spouse to change or do differently?

Have you been deceitful toward your partner? Have you violated any agreed upon sacred rules, agreements or promises? Have you been reliably trustworthy?

Are you dependably available when your spouse is needing someone to talk to or work out a problem with?

Do you attempt to avoid difficult conversations? When are you the most difficult to communicate or connect with? How often does this happen?

What could you do differently that would make the most constructive difference to the relationship?

After you answer these questions, go back through them and answer the way you think your partner would.

Neil Rosenthal is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Westminster and Boulder. He is the author of the bestselling book, “Love, Sex, and Staying Warm: Creating a Vital Relationship.” Contact him at 303-758-8777 or visit

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