Lesson 4 of 7  - optimize your relationships

Courtship Worksheet 1 of 2

Am I Committing to
the Right Partner?

By Peter K. Gerlach, MSW
Member NSRC Experts Council

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The Web address of this article is http://sfhelp.org/relate/mates/partner.htm

Updated 09-01-2015

      Clicking underlined links here will open a new window. Other links will open  an informational popup, so please turn off your browser's popup blocker or allow popups from this nonprofit Web site. If your playback device doesn't support Javascript, the popups may not display. Follow underlined links after finishing this article to avoid getting lost.

      This is one of two worksheets for couples considering commitment to each other (e.g. marriage). The worksheets exists because sociologists estimate almost half of U.S. first marriages fail legally. Untold millions more fail psychologically, but stop short of legal divorce. Implication - most love-struck American couples pick the wrong people to commit to (mate + their family), for the wrong reasons, at the wrong time. This is probably true in other cultures.

      This brief YouTube video provides perspective for these worksheets. The video mentions eight self-improvement lessons in this Web site. I've reduced that to seven.

      In my experience as a family therapist, the "wrong people" to commit to are unaware and psychologically wounded.

       This worksheet offers 31 criteria for deciding whether you're choosing the right people (mate + family) to commit to. These traits come from the professional research I began in 1979, including clinical interviews with over 1,000 average Midwestern U.S. adults.

If you and/or your partner have kids from a prior union, fill out part two of this worksheet after you finish this part.

       This worksheet assumes you're familiar with:

  • The intro to this nonprofit Web site and the premises underlying it

  • self-improvement Lesson 1 thru 4,  Parts 1 and 2

  • Grown Wounded Children (GWCs),

  • these Q&A items on dating, marriage, and divorce

  • the lethal [wounds + unawareness] cycle, and...

  • these common courtship danger signs

      There are many materials and programs available that aim to help couples make the right courtship choices. These Lesson-4 divorce-prevention worksheets are unique because...

  • they're based on the concept of inherited psychological wounds and unawareness that promote major relationship and family stress and eventual divorce. No other marriage-prep assessment tools that I'm aware of (e.g. Prepare/Enrich, FOCCUS, or Relate) include this concept; And...

  • these worksheets emphasize the vital importance of effective communication and healthy-grieving and parenting knowledge. Lack of these promotes major personal, parental, and relationship stress and divorce; And...

  • these worksheets and related articles are part of a modular self-improvement course that all adults should study to prevent common problems like these.


      Ideally, you partners will each use this worksheet after studying Lessons 1 thru 4. Procrastinating or ignoring these Lessons suggests that you may be controlled by protective false selves. RED LIGHT!

      Print this page and make at least 30" of undistracted time. Choose attitudes of curiosity and "this is a high-return investment of my time in making a complex life-changing decision and avoiding possible divorce."

      Check who's directing your personality. If it's a well-meaning false self, expect your results here to be misleading.

      Take time to reflect thoroughly on each item below. First focus on you, then on your partner, and  check the item only if all sub-items are true. Options: record your thoughts and feelings as you do this self evaluation. Star or highlight any items you want to learn more about or discuss.

      Edit any of the items to fit you better, and add any others you feel are important. Note whether your true Self is the editor and why s/he wants the changes.   

      If you fudge or cheat as you do this worksheet, you're potentially hurting yourself, your partner, and any descendents.

      Invite your partner to read and discuss the articles in the box above with you. When you're both done, see what you want to do. Ideally, you'll choose to keep working at this course together whether you commit to each other now or not.

       Check a trait "__" only if you can check each sub-trait "_". The more traits you check, the higher the odds you're choosing the right (wholistically-healthy and aware) partner. That does not mean you're committing for the right reasons at the right time!

      "S/He" means "She or He."

 Am I  Committing to the Right Partner?

__  1)  S/He has read this article on the lethal [wounds + unawareness] cycle, and is committed to breaking it in our families.

__  2)  S/He has no major symptoms of psychological wounds, or if she does, s/he is self-motivated to work at reducing them now. If you can't check this trait, the rest of these items probably don't matter.

__  3)  S/He is seems to ne guided by her/his true Self most of the time, or s/he is intentionally working to improve this 

__  4)  This person's multi-generational family has many of these high-nurturance traits.

__  5)  I _ greatly like and respect this person for her/his values, morals, goals, and conduct; and _ I feel genuinely respected by her/him, and _ enjoy spending time with her/him.

__  6)  S/He _ has lived alone and financially independently (vs. with siblings or other kin, or a room-mate or lover) for several years. S/he usually feels comfortable enough with _ solitude, _ normal socializing, and _ herself/himself as a person.

__  7)  S/He is not addicted to or over-dependent on...

  • a substance (including food, nicotine, caffeine, alcohol, prescription drugs, and "street" drugs); or...

  • an activity (including work; cleaning; exercise; weight control; worship; studying; a hobby; a "cause;" and earning, spending, or saving money; etc.); or ...

  • a relationship (including me, a parent, a relative, or other person); or...

  • a mood-state like excitement (risk, conflict, change), sexual arousal, religious or spiritual ecstasy, or rage.

      If s/he is or may be addicted now, _ we agree that s/he is steadily working a self-motivated, effective addiction-management program now. Note - addictions and other harmful compulsions usually indicate low-nurturance childhoods, significant inner pain, and inherited psychological wounds.

__  8)  S/He is motivated to study online Lesson 1 here and discuss it with me and other members of our families.

__  9)  S/He has _ a realistic opinion of her strengths and limitations, and has _  appropriate self-confidence and self-esteem as a person and a wo/man. 

__  10)  S/He is very clear on her/his personal rights as a dignified, worthy person, and _ s/he genuinely (vs. dutifully) accords me and all other people the same rights.

__  11)  I feel s/he is an effective communicator in most situations. S/He knows how to

_ be aware of inner and outer dynamics;

_ listen empathically - specially in conflicts,

_ identify her/his primary needs and _ assert them respectfully, And s/he knows how to...

talk about our communication process; and how to...

_ use all seven communication skills to avoid or resolve problems  with me and other people. And...

_ S/He is self-motivated to study Lesson 2 and apply its ideas to our and other relationships

__  12)  S/He can _ answer all the questions on this good-grief quiz and _ s/he can say clearly why these questions are important to us; or _ s/he is clearly self-motivated to learn the answers now. _ S/He has no signs of incomplete grieving major childhood or other losses (broken bonds).

__  13)  S/He has several friends she enjoys spending time with (vs. being isolated and solitary).

__  14)  S/he steadily gives high priority to her/his wholistic health: s/he regularly _ gets enough exercise, _ eats a healthy diet, _ gets appropriate medical and dental checkups, and _ values her/his spiritual growth. 

__  15)  S/He _ is actively pursuing her/his life purpose, or _ s/he is proactively seeking to discover it.

__  16)  I believe his/her spiritual beliefs and practices are healthy;

__  17)  S/He _ has no major financial debts, and _ is not involved in any personal litigation.

__  18)  S/He _ does not deny or hide significant personal problems from me, and _ s/he shows sincere interest in my problems and achievements.

__  19)  S/He _ rarely needs to distort or avoid the truth. I _ solidly trust s/he means what s/he says, and says what s/he means.

__  20)  S/He is genuinely comfortable with appropriate interpersonal intimacy and giving and receiving physical contact.

__  21)  S/He _ is clearly able to form healthy bonds with male and female adults and children, and _ s/he is able to feel. give, and receive love.

__  22)  S/He has a healthy sense of humor, and is often able to laugh at herself/himself.

__  23)  S/He is clearly able to empathize with other people.

__  24)  I am comfortable enough with her/his occupational choices, status, and plans; or we know how to manage our values differences over these well enough.

__  25)  S/He and I _ have thoroughly discussed child conception and/or adoption, and _ we are in stable agreement on these questions.

__  26)  S/He _ has carefully reviewed these courtship danger signs, and has discussed her/his reactions honestly with me. _ I feel none of these signs apply to our relationship now.

__  27)  S/He is self-motivated to take and discuss _ this relationship-skill quiz and _ these other wise-choice worksheets with me now.

__  28)  I feel comfortable enough with any differences I have with my partner over

_  relatives

_  socializing

_  addiction

_  priorities

_  sex

_  money

_  politics

_  ecology

_  privacy

_  pets

_  housing

_  hobbies

_  religion or spirituality

_  racial issues

_  abortion

_  personal health

_  personal hygiene

_ lifestyle (work + play + rest)

__  29)  I feel my partner's relatives and key friends are _ supportive enough of our relationship, and _ compatible enough with me, and my relatives and friends.

__  30)  S/He _ genuinely accepts me for who I am, and _ is not trying to change me in any way.

__  31)  S/He is _ consistently comfortable asserting her boundaries and needs with me, and _ is usually willing to seek win-win compromises when we conflict.

+ + +


      As I finish this part of our courtship inventory, I feel...

_  calm, centered, and relaxed;

_  that I answered each of these items thoughtfully and honestly; and...

_  I feel no major anxiety or ambivalence about showing my answers here to my partner and selected others.

If you can't check each of these as solidly true, suspect that protective false selves control you. Study Lesson 1.

      The more of the 31 items above you can check without ambivalence or discomfort, the more likely it is you (each) are choosing the right person to commit to. Each unchecked item deserves your mutual discussion and attention whether you commit to each other or not.

 Even if you mates each check most of these right-partner items, either of you may still choose the wrong time to commit, for the wrong reasons.

  If either of you have kids from prior unions,
 continue this courtship worksheet here.

      Pause, breathe, and reflect - why did you use this worksheet? Did you get what you needed? If not, what do you need? Who's answering these questions - your true Self, or ''someone else''?

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