What’s Your MQ?

I was visiting with a friend recently talking about marriage which happens to be one of my favorite topics to discuss. Somehow the conversation brought up IQ or Intelligence Quotient. We’ve all long been aware of this measurement of intelligence though none of us remembers being tested for it in school.

There’s been a lot of buzz in recent years about EQ, or Emotional Quotient. This is a measurement of how well an individual manages him or herself and how well he or she gets along with others.

I’ve heard of SQ, Spiritual Quotient, or how well established a person is with the spiritual component of their life.

Well, I got to thinking we should have MQ, which you can probably guess would be Marriage Quotient. We could develop a measurement of how well an individual is doing in his or her marriage.

While the term MQ might be new, the assessment tool is not. One of which I am fairly familiar is called Prepare-Enrich. This is an instrument which has been around for decades in one form or another.

Currently, there is an online version of this assessment wherein each person can answer upwards of 200 questions about their marriage. The computer will then combine their scores and print out a snapshot of where they are in relationship with each other.

Among the components measured are communication and conflict resolution. Most hurting couples score fairly low in these scales. Other areas addressed include Partner Style and Habits, Friends and Family, Finances, Household Chores, etc.

There are ten items measured, and typically folks will score higher in some than in others.

Those areas with low scores are called Growth Areas. Slightly higher scores are described as Possible Growth Areas. Scores above 50% are called Possible Strengths and higher scores are listed as Strengths.

These ten scores are then averaged together in a way that correlates to one of four categories: Vitalized, Harmonious, Conventional and Conflicted.

According to the creators of Prepare-Enrich, Vitalized couples “are typically most satisfied with their relationship, skilled in communication and conflict resolution.” Harmonious couples “also enjoy high levels of satisfaction across most areas of their relationship.”

Conventional couples, which may include the majority of us, “are often committed to one another, but not as skilled in communication or conflict resolution.” The couple you don’t want to be is called Conflicted who are described as having “a lower level of satisfaction and often struggle with many areas of their relationship.”

Unfortunately, this seems to be a rather large group in our society today, both nationally and right here in San Juan County America.

The very good news is that MQ can be increased. IQ is thought to be fairly static. My score of 346 is what I am stuck with for the rest of my life (if you believe that score I have a bridge I might want to sell you). Actually, there is some debate about whether or not IQ can be improved. I’m leaning (and hoping) towards believing it can.

EQ, SQ and MQ can all be increased if people will learn how to do life better.  All marriages will experience periods of highs and lows. Enjoy the highs – the legal ones that is- and be so very careful during the lows that you don’t say or do anything that might make the situation worse and longer lasting.

Divorce does indeed solve some problems, but it can also create more problems than it solves. I saw a study once that said that of couples who divorce approximately 50% report being happier five years later.

Of those couples who considered divorce, but didn’t, approximately 80% reported being happier five years later. So if you’re looking for happiness in life, the odds say you should stay and work on your marriage rather than breaking it off and seeking happiness elsewhere.

The discouraging fact is that often you are a major reason your marriage isn’t working in the first place. So if you end your marriage and start another, you are very likely going to bring that one to ruin as well. Doesn’t it make sense to see what you might learn to be a better spouse?

If your car starts acting funny, do you automatically replace it with a new one? Some of you actually do, but while that may be okay for a vehicle, it is not wise for a marital partner. There are several folks in this area who practice marriage counseling and/or marriage coaching. There is a difference, but I’ll have to cover that another time.

For now let me encourage you to examine your MQ, or Marital Intelligence and see if it might be in need of improvement. There truly is help and hope for most every marriage to move from Conflicted to Conventional to Harmonious and ultimately to Vitalized. Why not find out for yourself?



Ron Price is the co-founder and Executive Director of the Four Corners Coalition for Marriage & Family, a 501-C-3 organization dedicated to strengthening and equipping marriages and families in the Four Corners Area. He can be reached at ronp@fccmf.org or 505 327-7870.