Three Questions to Answer in Measuring the Success of Your Relationship
Bill Cottringer

“Don't marry the person you think you can live with; marry only the individual you think you can't live without.” ~James Dobson.

A writing colleague and dear friend of mine who is visiting from India, Anil Bhatnagar of Thrive ( , is being gracious enough to allow me to borrow his theory of the Three C’s of Successful Team Building, to apply in this article on the three questions to ask in measuring the success of your relationship. The following three C’s work together to build and sustain a thriving relationship in the prosperity zone:


1. Are we equally committed to this relationship?

A successful long term relationship has to be built on an unspoken, unconditional commitment between the two people, as a sacred covenant that can weather all storms. This basic assumption is what builds the trust to grow together without fear of being controlled, getting rejected, or losing love. Without this unconditional acceptance and assurance being a given to count on through better or worse times, the relationship is vulnerable to ending. Trust is a funny thing though. The only way you can feel it is to be trustworthy yourself and unfortunately your own trustworthiness is developed from your experiences in trusting—good and bad.

The lesson here is to compete against yourself instead of others. In other words, worry most about developing the trustworthiness you project and then learn how to better discern when trust is or isn’t an issue. The good news is that trustworthiness is contagious and it can be increased with a little attention to the next two questions below. The other matter involves being committed to focus on and achieve a common goal of all relationships—to get more out of life together than either of you can get alone. Doubling the joys and halving the sorrows is more than just a common cliché or puffy platitude.


2. How concerned are we about thriving together?

Concern is all about using emotional intelligence to do the things that help relationships weather inevitable stress and continue to improve. The needed concern to thrive together into the prosperity zone includes:

• Practicing self-awareness and accurate self-assessment and perceptions of others.
• Being sensitive, empathetic and understanding of others.
• Managing emotions for the best decisions and actions.
• Maintaining strong hope and positive motivation.
• Becoming more likeable by using effective interpersonal skills to get along well with others.

Concern is from the heart and expressed with your acts. The best way to express concern is to listen well and not allow your brain to leak out any judgments. Sometimes silence is the best way to show genuine concern.

Moreover, being concerned enough to make the marriage work well can make up for lack of competencies in relationship-building or at least buy some time to learn these competencies. There is much truth in the saying that people don’t care to hear what you know until they know you care.


3. Are we competent enough to thrive together?

Competency in relationships involves one main skill—effective communication. This is especially needed when annoying differences, serious incompatibilities and dreadful conflicts arise as they inevitably do. One well-known relationship expert from Seattle, John Gotmann, maintains he can spot a marriage in trouble when the couple expresses communication that indicates they are not compatible in dealing with their incompatibilities. For example, when one person takes the passive approach and the other an aggressive one in dealing with a money conflict, eventual uproar and an undoing of the knot are waiting in the wind. What is most important here isn't the incompatibilities themselves but rather the way the two people deal with them.

Every story we have ever read or every movie we have ever watched is based on the characters being confronted with conflict and how they deal with it. The most successful books and movies always have some spirit-satisfying, successful resolution of the most seemingly unsolvable conflict, against all odds. Conflict is a predominant problem of life that puts your purpose in sharp focus—to learn, grow and improve into the best self or couple we can be. One way or another, unsuccessful resolution of conflict is the sole source of all failure.

Learn to plant your trustworthy commitment, grow your loving concern, and improve your communication competence and your relationship success will be where you always knew it could be—thriving in the prosperity zone.

“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. "Pooh!" he whispered. "Yes, Piglet?" "Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw. "I just wanted to be sure of you." ~A.A. Milne

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is Executive Vice-President for Employee Relations for Puget Sound Security, Inc. in Bellevue, WA, along with his hobbies in being a Sport Psychologist, Business Success Coach, Photographer and Writer living in the peaceful but invigorating mountains and rivers of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, “You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too” (Executive Excellence), “The Bow-Wow Secrets” (Wisdom Tree), “Do What Matters Most” and “P” Point Management” (Atlantic Book Publishers), “Reality Repair” (Global Vision Press), Reality Repair Rx (Authorsden), and “If Pictures Could Talk,” coming soon. Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (425) 454-5011 or