Prepare Enrich is a wonderful premarital and marital assessment tool, built on a solid research foundation and offers a great skill-development program. I’ve recently become a certified Prepare Enrich coordinator, and want to tell you more about the assessment and how it measures relationship compatibility.
Based on an extensive questionnaire filled out by each partner separately the assessment generates a couples report. The report looks at overall relationship satisfaction, dynamics, personal stress profile, and couples typology. It identifies how strong the couple’s compatibility is by focusing on what areas are strength areas and which areas can use some growth in the relationship. The couple typology patterns range from a vitalized couple to a conflicted couple, as seen in the chart below.
Compatibility is assessed through the 9 following categories (definitions are taken from the Prepare Enrich facilitator’s guide):
1. The Communication category measures how couples feel about the quality and quantity of communication in their relationship. It explores how they share feelings, understand, and listen to one another.
2. The Conflict Resolution category looks at a couple's ability to discuss and resolve differences. It measures how effectively couples share opinions, ideas, and feelings, even during times of conflict.
3. The Partner Style and Habits category measures each person’s satisfaction with the personal characteristics and habits of their partner. It looks at each person’s relationship style and habits as expressed in their behavior.
4. The Financial Management category looks at having realistic financial plans and agreement in the area of finances. It explores opinions about spending habits, savings, debt, and making financial decisions.
5. The Leisure Activities category measures a couple’s satisfaction with the amount and quality of leisure time spent together. It looks at similarities in interests, and satisfaction with the balance of time spent together and apart.
6. The Sexual Expectations category measures a couple’s satisfaction with the affection in their relationship. It also looks at their comfort in discussing sexual issues, expectations, and history.
7. The Family and Friends category measures relationship satisfaction with relatives and friends. It looks at each individual’s opinions of the other’s family and friends, as well as the level of influence and/or interference experienced from these relationships.
8. The Relationship Roles category measures a couple’s expectations about how decision making and responsibilities will be shared. It looks at each individual’s preferences for traditional or egalitarian roles in their relationship.
9. The Spiritual Beliefs category measures how satisfied or involved couples are with the practice and expression of spiritual beliefs in their relationship. This category looks at similarities in spiritual beliefs and whether they are a resource or a source of tension.
If you’re currently single, these are all categories you can work on before you even enter into any relationship. You can always improve your communication skills with your current circle of friends. You can have a strong foundation in managing your money, practicing pleasure activities and even setting sexual boundaries. You can build up your spiritual beliefs and practices. You should be investing in your familial relationships and friendships all while setting healthy boundaries to avoid future interference and overstepping. You must be able to grow individually and know where you stand in each category before you can enter and grow in a unit.
If you’re currently in a relationship, how strong do you feel about each of these categories? Do you automatically recognize which areas your relationship thrives in, and which areas make you cringe? Taking two styles of conflict resolution and meshing them together can create (you guessed it) conflict. There are about five ways you can try to resolve conflict: avoiding, accommodating, collaborating, compromising, or competing. Which one is your conflict resolution style, and which one is your partner’s?
Having come from different families of origin, you might have many things you do differently, even the way you communicate. This can be a source of tension leaving a lot of room for growth.
Spiritual beliefs might be last on the list, but I believe it’s the most important one. Our beliefs shape our identity and influence our actions from small to significant ways. Our faith trickles into the way we live our lives and how we express our deepest emotions. If you and your partner are not on the same page when it comes to spiritual beliefs, it becomes a large roadblock. Even if you are of the same faith, the way you practice your faith can vary. One can be strictly devout, while the other is faithful by association.
Seeing eye to eye in the above categories can be challenging, to say the least, but highly rewarding. It may take months or even years before you get to that healthy and content vitalized couple status. Maybe some coaching can help you make the best of the assessment.
P.S. If you’d like to take the assessment and/or work through some of these categories through relationship coaching please feel free to reach out to me for more information. It’s best to do the premarital assessment to know exactly what kind of marriage you’ll be entering and how to prepare for it. Even as a married couple it can be extremely helpful. My husband and I did the assessment early in our marriage and it has helped tremendously.