The Partner and I recently filled out elaborate questionnaires regarding our marriage. They were generated by eHarmony Marriage, a spin-off of the popular dating Web site. eHarmony Marriage is something of a counseling program wherein a computer assesses various aspects of your lifestyle and world-view to come up with a detailed marriage profile to help you understand how to build a better marriage.
We dove into the lengthy process with gusto. I call their introductory assessment tool a questionnaire, and so does eHarmony, but it is actually a series of statements on issues ranging from communication, to family, to trust, to sex. Respondents must ask all the questions of themselves, as they look at each statement on their computer screens and move a small carat to the spot in the spectrum that shows how much they agree or disagree.
45 minutes after we embarked on first leg of our introspective journey, The Partner and I finished the questionnaire. As soon as both of our responses were tabulated (and that was instantaneous), we had a 61 paged eHarmony Marriage Profile (EMP) and a Marriage Action Plan (MAP) that was all about us. The EMP is a sort of reference resource analyzing the sources of agreement and disagreement in the marriage, while the MAP is a personalized and practical set of interactive video exercises, expert articles and other practical tools designed to maximize the positive impact on your marriage.
It was impressive. There was a lot of information and, through the miracle of the high speed processor, it spoke with utmost attention to the details of our strange and imperfect marriage. It was, as eHarmony touts it, extremely personalized.
It was enlightening. On the third page of our EMP was a directory of emoticons that represented how each of us felt about issues pertaining to eHarmony's list of the ten components to a healthy marriage. With one exception, every emoticon was a frowny face. Frowns denote when a person is "usually unhappy" with a facet of his or her marriage. On the positive side, at least we're in agreement about how unhappy we are.
It relied on our own drive. Whereas a visit to a real-life counselor would require a drive in a car, this program rests on the couple's internal drive to enhance or fix their marriage (actually, it can work even if only one spouse is interested in putting in the effort, as it is not required for both partners to participate). The problem with self-motivation is one of the factors that makes marriages falter in the first place--it's hard to find the time to focus on each other. The Partner and I were consumed with so many other projects and activities that finding a way to get past our disheartening EMP and into the MAP realm of doing something about it was difficult.
It was good to talk. When we did find the time, the exercises were helpful in sparking conversations that helped each of us better understand where the other was coming from. And it was all done in the comfort of our own home.
In conclusion, I have no conclusions. Our marriage is in the same hole it's been for the past three years, although now we have depressing analytical statistics to prove it. Like any form of self-help or counseling, the success of this program relies on the willingness of the participants to embrace it. As wise ol' Anonymous once said, "when the student is ready, the teacher will come." If you are ready, the $39.95-$49.95 monthly price tag is a small price to pay for the teachings of this highly personalized and detailed marriage assessment with workable action steps.
This review is part of the Parent Bloggers Network.