Sasha Alex Lessin, Ph. D.


Five Ways of Assessing Relationship Satisfaction*

Alex (Sasha) Lessin, Ph.D., School of Tantra

Daniel Eckstein, Ph.D.,University of Texas–Permian Basin
Janet Kira Lessin, Aquarian Media
Jason Kaufman, Inver Hills Community College

Chart your couple’s conduct and refine your relationship.  The graph you create shows your dynamics–interaction, emotion, expression, clarity (understanding) and contact (feeling of connection) in your relationships.  You rate these dynamics on a 1-5 scale.  Based on your graph, you pledge behaviors that balance your ratings on the five dimensions.  (Balance, on the graph, means interaction, feeling, expression, clarity and connection all rate 1s, 2s, 3s, 4s, or 5s)

Describe your dual dynamics–activity, feeling, expression, understanding and contact–on the following fitness graph.  Your ratings will reveal routes to refine and enrich your relationship.

In a relationship rating system, a pair of lovers regularly graph their conduct to better their bonding.

The graph shows the couple’s dynamics—interaction, emotion, expression, clarity (understanding), and contact (feeling of connection). Based on the graph, lovers each pledge behaviors that raise or lower their ratings on each dynamic to achieve a balance in their ratings on the five dimensions and thus achieve and maintain the fitness effect in their relation.

The current article introduces five specific ways partners can rate personal satisfaction. It has been adopted from the earlier work of Corrierre and Hart (1977, 1979).

There are four sections to the present article.
In Section I, you as a couple are asked to rate your personal satisfaction of your relationship using five specific defined characteristics.

Section II features a discussion of the importance of feedback in relationships.
Section III consists of the actual graphing of your scores. Section IV gives some specific suggestions for improving your relationship together.

Chart your couple conduct and refine your relationship. The graph you create below shows your dynamics—interaction, emotion, expression, clarity (understanding), and contact (feeling of connection) in your relationships. You graph these dynamics on the chart on a 1 to 5 scale. Based on your graph, you RATE pledge behaviors that balance your ratings on the five dimensions. (Balance, on the graph, means interaction, feeling, expression, clarity, and connection all rate 1s, 2s, 3s, 4s, or 5s.)

Describe your dual dynamics—identify on the following fitness graph below. Your ratings will reveal routes to refine and enrich your relationship.

You and your partner should use different colored pencils, read the instructions for each dynamic, then circle 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 for activity on a copy you make of the empty graph above. Here’s what the numbers represent:

5= intense. You interact on most days. You work, play, relax, and go places together.

4= strong. At least five times a week you eat, play, visit or have guests together.

3 = moderate. You do some things as a couple each week. 2 = slight. You rarely romp, only doing things some weeks. 1 = inactive. You usually go your separate ways.

Put a dot above the word interaction on the graph above. Write the number (1, 2, 3, 4, or 5) below the word interaction.

A. Interaction

With your partner, discuss how much you have fun, break bread together, do duties, and dialogue with each other. How much time each day are you together?

Circle 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 for activity.

B. Feelings

How passionately do you feel affection, attraction, apprehension, anguish, and anger back and forth between you?

Rate your couple feeling. Measure emotion, not its expression. Choose one of these:

5 = intense. You experience all the feelings toward each other. 4 = strong. You feel deeply about each other.

3 = moderate. You have some emotion for each other, but you restrict feelings, some most of the time.

2= slight. You feel something for each other only occasionally.

1 = indifferent. Why are you together?

Put a dot above feeling on the graph. Write the number below the dot.

C. Expression

How do you emote? Do you yell, gesture, slam doors, write love notes, confront, cry, hug, kiss? Do you hush, withdraw, keep calm, stay secretive, avoid touch, or hide your feelings? Does the strength of what you show match the force of what you feel? Rate how expressive you two are. Each of you put a dot in your distinct colors above expression on the graph. Write the number for each of you below expression.

5= intense. You both show what you feel in word, tone, volume, gesture, behavior. You say how you feel. You hide little.

4= strong. You show most emotions, but you suppress jealousy, anger or lust for a while.

3 = moderate. You share your thoughts often, passion less. You conceal certain feelings. You deny bad feelings or vent them indirectly, maybe months later.

2= slight. You seldom exhibit emotion. You and your lover may infer that you feel affection, but you don’t express it.

1 = concealed. You hide feelings.

D. Understand, See Consequences

Assess how much you and your partner know what goes on between you and why. Can you catch the cares and prior patterns motivating you? Do you look at how you relate and select different ways? How easily and fairly do you divide duties? Rate your couple clarity. 5 = clear, 4= good;3 = misty, 2 = cloudy, 1 = fogbound. Enter the rating on the graph.

E. Encounter, Contact

Do you touch each other? Do you touch in a special way? When you talk, how much do you reveal yourself? How honest are you? How much do you share your thoughts and feelings, risking the other’s anger or rejection? How much do you influence each other?

In authentic contact you each see and care how the other feels. Both feel known. You’re active, clear, open. You talk and touch much. Rate your contact. Enter this rating on the chart:

5 = authentic. You influence, support, stroke and care intensely for each other.

4= strong. You are close, trusting, dear friends. You often touch.

3 = moderate. You share some, hide some.

2 = slight. You relate in roles.

1 = poor. You’re uninvolved, isolated, alienated.


A. INTERACTION ACTIVATION; Do something as lovers.

Sample Steps

Work, play, run, hike, or picnic. Share a chore you usually don’t. Hug.

Forgo frantic activity. Loaf together at the beach. Finish: “We can improve our interaction by . . .”

B. Facilitate Feeling

You feel all the time. Notice your feelings now. Raise your feeling level.

Recall times you felt sad, angry, scared, strong, or loving.

Calm yourself: relax, breathe deeply. See your passions as waves washing the shore.

Finish: “With you, Dear, I’d like to feel . . .”

”I’ll facilitate the feeling in our relation by . . .”

C. Exercise Expression

See your beloved. Experience emotion toward her or him.

Realize that one day she or he will die. Pretend you are present at the last moment.

What would you say that you haven’t?

What do you wish to change about yourself in that scene? Say “I love you” to your darling.

Say you’re glad you’re together.

When your lover says something you dislike, say “I don’t like what you said.” Discuss it until you both feel OK.

Imagine the consequences for your couple if you disclose more. Talk less and listen more.

Show annoyance or anger to each other. Talk until you feel loving. Then hug.

Finish: “A small step I’ll take to express more (or less) in our relationship is . . .”

D. Stretch Understanding

Finish five sentences about your bond, starting with “I understand . . .”

“With us, I’m confused about . . .”

List 10 ways your coupling differs from your parents’.

Think of 10 ways your lover differs from your parent of the opposite sex. Then explain them.

Tell what you want from your lover. How do you settle for less?

If you know it all, stop looking to know more. Live from the answers, you have now.

Complete: “I’ll understand you better by . . .”

E. Better Couple Contact

Walk or jog together once a week. Talk about yourselves and your feelings as you move.

Subtract any contact that smothers. Withdraw a while each day, then reunite refreshed.

Finish: “I’ll improve contact with you this week by . . .” (Say what you’ll do.)

F. Instant Replay

Tell your love, “This week, I commit myself to . . .” (Designate a deed you’ll do to balance your bond.)

Complete three graphs rating your five dynamics (interaction, emotion, expression, clarity, and contact) for 3 successive weeks, the last 2 weeks of which you live from the steps you committed to for balancing your dynamics. Draw the three graphs for the instructors to see.

Describe the trends, variation, or stability in the three graphs. How did the behavior you pledged affect your functioning?

Look at your last graph. What’s the next doable step for more balance?

* Reproduced from THE FAMILY JOURNAL: COUNSELING AND THERAPY FOR COUPLES AND FAMILIES, Vol. XX No. X, Month 2005 1 DOI: 10.1177/1066480705278728 2005 Sage Publications

Keywords: relationship fitness; relationships; couples; dynamics; interaction; emotion; expression; clarity; under- standing; contact; connection

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