The “No No” Self-Exam For Married Couples

  First please type in your sex (Male, Female) :


        For each item, write in a “0”, “1”,  or “2” to indicate how frequently or how relevant each item pertains to you.  Use the following key:

 0 = Never or irrelevant     1=Occasionally     2=Frequently or very relevant 

We don’t try something new because it might feel “silly”

We keep focusing on responsibilities because they seem all important

We don’t take time out to wonder and explore

We consider fun to be unimportant

We hesitate to pursue our heart’s desire because of other people’s opinions

We don’t request a “favor” from our spouse because it might be turned down

We accuse our spouse of being selfish or insensitive so that we don’t have to make a request

We only comply with our spouse’s expectations and don’t initiate our own plans

We don’t take time in our day to daydream about possibilities

We raise our voice while arguing

We focus on how to change our spouse instead of how we want to be

We try to show how independent and strong we can be

We focus on our spouse’s forgiveness instead of devising a plan for correction

We refuse to acknowledge a mistake even though we’re aware of it

We wake up in the morning and initially feel uneasy and anxious for no reason

We make pride the most important thing in our lives

We insist that our spouse must change before we do

We don’t tell our spouse when we’re angry because it wouldn’t be nice

We try to make our spouse love us by sacrificing what is important to us

We make approval more important than truth

We let obligations control our time and we don’t

We use sarcasm against our spouse

We dredge up old resentments as weapons

We invade or refuse our spouse’s privacy

We fail to establish our own privacy

We hold onto unrealistic hope in a truly abusive relationship

We hide lying or dishonest behavior



Total  (Sum up the column when finished)

Bottom of Form

The purpose for this exercise was to let you to confront some of your own defenses, not for you to obtain a score.  However, I know that some of us have a proclivity towards measuring things. Therefore, let me interpret the following.  If you score 10 or less then your defenses are so strong that you’re probably deceiving yourself.   If your score is above 40 then you’re experiencing a lot of defensive inefficiency.  Your life may be disrupted in a number of spheres.  Most people score between 20 and 40. 

All of the items in the preceding self-exam involve our fear of shame.  We fear and try to avoid the shameful sense that we’re unimportant and undeserving.  Shame takes different forms but in this context it’s the pain of feeling that we’re somehow less than we’re supposed to be. While guilt is a negative feeling about what we do, shame is a devaluation of who we are.  It’s about whether we perceive our very existence as being important.  And this fear of shame plays out on a totally symbolic level.  In our civilization we no longer fear cave bears and saber tooth.  Instead, we fear a loss of stature in our own self-evaluation.  Because this self-evaluation is not about physical reality, we’re really afraid of something symbolic. We fear the symbolic meaning of a mistake or a poor performance.  We’re afraid of the negativity in a disapproving glare, a sarcastic comment, a forgotten date, a raised eyebrow, or a bored sigh.  We’re vulnerable to the personal devaluation inherent in a raised voice, an irrelevant interruption in the middle of our talking, inequity in our relationships, having another person tell us how we feel, the lack of pursuit by a person who says they still love us, and especially the experience of not being asked about what we want or feel.    

Most of us don’t fully appreciate how much the fear of shame operates in our lives.  One reason is that we don’t like to admit to others anything about ourselves that doesn’t enhance our popularity.  Neither fear nor shame is a hot commodity in the interpersonal status market.  We want others to view us as always being motivated by positive emotions.  Nobody wants to talk about or acknowledge the negative feelings.  And when we adopt a distorted popular image of what being human should be, we often fool ourselves about how we really are. We want to fit in.  We want to be normal.  We don’t like to admit even to ourselves that we have feelings of vulnerability.  The irony in this situation is a truth that sounds like a weird distortion of Roosevelt’s famous admonition about fear.  Only this one goes: we’re afraid of our shame and ashamed of our fear.


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