We know it's not a pleasure for most people. But many couples respond differently to The BIG BIG Book.
We ask you to reflect on aspects of your relationship that are currently problematic. Equally important, you're learning what's still working well between you.
Each and every question in The BIG BIG Book provides your couples therapist with essential information they'll need in order to help both of you.
The BIG BIG Book helps you move into the present, and examine your marriage in a new way. You start to put things into perspective. The frame of the problem becomes clearer. You learn how many issues you have, which don't have anything to do with your relationship.
The BIG BIG Book isn’t a fun “compatibility test” you take in 5 minutes.
It’s a thorough couples therapy assessment tool that examines your relationship, from a scientific point of view. It is a part of every Intensive Marriage Retreat.
It is like a road map used at the start of a long trip. A clinical road map tells you where you're going, and what the goals are. We take the time to carefully look at your answers. Learn more below about what this assessment is, and how we use it below.
Each and every question provides your therapist with a blueprint, a guideline to help you get on the same team.
However, in a good marriage you're on the same team, and in a bad one you're on opposing sides. So when we look at The BIG BIG Book, we read your stories side-by-side. We want to know which side you're on.
We want to know something about you, as a person, too. We want to know about your stresses and troubles. We want to know about work pressures and health ailments. We want to know about your children, stepchildren and grandchildren. Every question focuses our understanding of you as a total person, with a complicated life and complex motives.
Have you had a recent death in the family?
A child who has left for college?
A child diagnosed with a learning disorder?
These are important transitions we should know about.
Are you depressed? As many as 40% of individuals in troubled marriage have one depressed spouse.
That's important for us to know.
Maybe it's Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, not that you are just trying to be annoy, or like a clean house.
All of these things are important for us to know.
Understanding your past helps you to make sense of who you are today.
It is a truism to say that our family-of-origin shapes the people we've become today, either by good or bad example. But we don't "psych you out" to point the finger. We need to understand your past to help you make better sense of today. Or perhaps to help you understand yourself at bit better.
If you were beaten, or sexually/ emotionally abused as a child or teen, that may not stay in your past. It may be showing up in how open you are to lovingly relate to others or respond to them sexually.
We're clinicians first.
That means we know how to psychotherapeutically treat individuals as well as couples. So we know how issues like depression or anxiety can impact you and your marriage. It is a give-and-take between helping you manage whatever concrete issues you might have, and how you and your partner can work together with those issues, to improve your marriage despite them.
As important as the past is, however, we want you to function better right here, right now. We want you to have a stronger relationship foundation to enjoy more energy, feel more passionate about life and your partner, and look forward to coming home at the end of the day.
Goals don't have to be mutual. One person can have different hopes and dreams from their partner, and that's alright.
In every conflict, science has taught us that there's a dream buried deep inside. Something you hold dear, and cannot let go of. Dr. John Gottman calls these your "bones." In a fight, you can't give up your bones. Our job is to help you to articulate those dreams, those values, those "bones."
Then we help both of you to recognize that you CAN have your dreams (in fact you must), in order to become happily married. If you sacrifice what's most precious to you in order to stay married, we haven't done our jobs.
Therefore, The BIG BIG Book has many questions that focus on today, not the past. And also the future...
Some of our couples are best of friends. They just have no sex life. And it's agonizing.
People often believe it's just a matter of lacking "sexual chemistry," but that's not the case.
Sexual chemistry isn't a "hormone" that runs through your system in the presence of a desirable other. Sexual chemistry is a complex set of variables that we understand and work with you on.
The questions about sexuality in the book are both from the Gottman Institute, and created by Dr. Kathy McMahon (Dr. K) to help us understand that "fingerprint" complexity of your sexual desire and passion. Once we understand it, we can help you work to improve your passions.
Our clinicians go through hours of training, both in using the Gottman tools, and the many other couples therapy assessment tools we use when joining Couples Therapy Inc, in order to learn how to understand the many assessment instruments that make up The BIG BIG Book. They also spend hours integrating this information into a usable synthesis before presenting it to you. Take notes. No two couples are alike, and therefore each Book is equally unique.
The BIG BIG Book is an assessment tools that is an integral part of a thorough and comprehensive couples therapy process, or what we call a "State of the Union." You'll receive your link to the BIG BIG Book once the Marriage Retreat is set up and paid for. Complete your own version online, without sharing your answers or even discussing the questions. If you are doing an Online assessment, your therapist will send you a link to the Relationship Checkup by the Gottman Institute.
Educationally, anyone with a high school education will have no trouble completing this couples assessment tool. Those with advanced degrees or the neurodiverse often “over-think” it. Try not to. It's a snapshot of your relationship, your current perspective, right now, in your relationship. That is what your therapist needs to understand. The True/False Gottman forms are meant to be used clinically, as a guide to treatment, not as a measurement tool. If it's mostly true, put "TRUE."
All of this takes time. Your time and our time. But when it is completed, we have a pretty clear picture of what is going on. We have a clinical road map for the type of work that will be helpful in improving your relationship. Our clients find the entire process a helpful and clarifying one.
This varies with the individual. For example, if you have no children, you jump over this section. Also, you don’t have to finish it in one sitting. Complete one page, then stop. You can come back whenever you have time. And if at any point, you would like to answer questions in person, you can do that too. We ask that you send a note to Jessica once it is complete, and that you complete it two weeks ahead of your Couples Retreat or 10 days before the Online Couples Therapy feedback session.
Your link will be sent to you within 24 hours after receipt of payment Monday-Friday 9-5 EST. If you don’t receive it, drop our admin a line. You will not be able to gain access to your answers after you complete each page (see below). If you want a record of what you wrote, please keep your responses on a separate sheet as you write.
We use a confidential online computer program –the same one used to conduct scientific research — when privacy is of utmost importance. We use the latest couples therapy assessment tools and techniques available to help us understand your relationship.
We do a number of things. As in all couples therapy assessment tools, we score them using standardized instruments. The SCL-90R, for example, looks at issues such as anxiety and depression. Depression interferes with a whole host of relationship aspects like sexual functioning, and the ability to get along. The Sexual Intimacy Scales, designed by Dr. McMahon, help us understand your sexual patterns and compatibility.
All of these many sources of information, along with material from the initial Couples Meeting, Individual Meetings, and our review of the 10-minute Videotaping segment, are integrated for the final Feedback Session.
The results are to be interpreted in the context of all the other information obtained about the couple during the assessment process including joint and individual interviews and clinical observations. The results of the questionnaires do not stand alone. A second reason it isn't handed out to clients is that each partner is encouraged to answer questions openly and honestly, free of concern about what their partner may think about their answers.
Your clinician will discuss the results of the entire assessment with both of you and suggested a treatment plan for improving and strengthening your relationship based on all the assessment information you provided.
These assessments require sensitivity as well as clinical wisdom to use them to provide a helpful therapeutic roadmap.
There are no separate charges for retreat clients. The costs are integrated into your Couples Retreat fees.
Online clients may be asked to pay $29. directly to the Gottman Institute for the Relationship Checkup.
You will also find the following documents available to you:
Those doing online assessments or Discernment Counseling receive The Relationship Checkup, designed by the Gottman Institute. Otherwise, the State of the Union is the same.