A Test to Measure Marriage Potential

Published August 16, 1979. A new simple test, Measuring Your Marriage Potential, has recently been devised with some interesting features. It was constructed by David and Vera Mace, Founders of the Association for couples for Marriage Enrichment (ACME) who have a rather unique perception of marriage.

The Mace’s view marriage is not as a static, unchanging relationship, but as a fluid, flexible interaction process which is never totally established or completed. It is a process of ongoing growth, adaption, and change that never ends.

No married couple, they believe, completely ‘arrives’ in a marriage because the objectives and goals themselves constantly change. The Mace’s like the term ‘marital growth’ to describe this dynamic process.

The test devised by the Mace’s is self-administered and self-scored. All that is needed is a pen or pencil, and a very small piece of paper. It can be taken without any advance preparation and this short do-it-yourself evaluation remains in your possession.

The test requires no professional personnel to administer or interpret the results. A husband and wife take it separately without collaboration of any kind and then sit down together to compare their scores and discuss the implications.

THE TEST: Listed below are ten areas of a marital relationship:
  1. Common goals and values
  2. Commitment to growth
  3. Communication skills
  4. Creative use of conflict
  5. Appreciation and affection
  6. Agreement on male/female roles
  7. Cooperation and teamwork
  8. Sexual fulfillment
  9. Money management
  10. Parenting effectiveness

Each partner is to enter a score, based on a scale of ‘0-10’, to the right of each time. First go through the list and make a quick response. Then take a little more time to go over the areas and revise the scores if you think it is necessary.

The score represents where the marriage now stands in relation to where it could be if every possible resource were put to work in bringing it up to its full potential as perceived by the individual.

A perfect score of ‘10’, for example, by “Appreciation and Affection” would mean that neither partner ever missed an opportunity to give warm support and praise. A score of ‘0’, on the other hand, would suggest that every opportunity is passed by. Relatively few couples, according to the Maces, rate their marriage at either extreme of ‘0’ or ‘10.’

Most scores fall somewhere in between. All that is asked is that each individual partner give their marriage an honest score according to their own perception.

After each person has privately evaluated the marriage potential in the 10 categories and entered the figures next to each area, the scores should be added up. The resulting figure represents a percentage of the marriage potential each person has assigned to the relationship. The difference between the assigned score and 100 indicates the marriage potential not yet attained.

The next step is a critical one. The Mace’s suggest that the husband and wife set a time when they can be alone together, uninterrupted, for at least an hour or more if possible. During this period, they should share for the first time the scores they have given the marriage and compare (a) their scores for the separate areas and (b) the sum of the scores on the total percentage.

Nearly all couples who have taken this test, according to the founders of ACME, have found it to be a significant experience. Many find their scores nearly identical, which suggests that their individual perceptions of their marriage are closely congruent.

When a significant disparity in total scores exists, it suggests a closer examination should be made of that area. The couple needs to find out why they place such different values on this particular part of their marriage.

If the scores are identical or very close and low, there clearly is some work to be done, The Mace’s counsel such couples not to be discouraged about these low scores because “they mean you have money in the bank that you’ve never used. There are some good things waiting to be claimed.”

For many couples, the discussion of the test is very challenging. It means facing some of the realities in their marriage they may have previously avoided. Often each one knows, but has never jointly faced the reality that specific areas of their marriage can be improved.

After reviewing their scores, the Mace’s then suggest a couple make their own “Growth Plan.” This plan simply outlines steps both agree upon to improve their relationship in their deficient areas. The agreement could be written and signed by both husband and wife. They then have a written commitment they have made to which they can refer, if desired.

The Mace’s also warn against the danger of attempting to change too much too quickly. “Do it in easy, manageable steps” they caution. “If you try to jump over a 4-foot wall together and you’re only able to clear a 3-foot wall, you’re both going to hurt yourselves.” They further suggest that the couple share their commitment with another couple or couples to whom they can report progress, or if necessary, with a counselor who can guide them through the growth process.

A final interesting aspect of this test is it can be repeated. Since the measure of marriage potential used is subjective, and not objective, the assigned scores can change over time. As you gain a clearer understanding of yourselves and each other, the Mace’s say you may alter your evaluation of what is possible for the marriage.

The test scores change as you progressively move toward a more realistic perception of what you can achieve together. You may also choose to alter or change the list of areas to be evaluated.

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