As we promised in Monday’s blog, today we offer you a test developed by researchers Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe and used by Dr. Gottman to measure your current stress level. The tools for couples that Dr. Gottman provides in his recently released book on trust are most effective if they are used by partners whose connection is based on a foundation of teamwork!  Couples who communicate about stressors and work together to fight stress build a culture of trust and mutual appreciation by supporting each other in tough times. 

Note: Not only can stress have a disastrous impact on your relationship – it can also be detrimental to your health. Just as we discussed Dr. Gottman’s research on flooding and its detrimental effects on physiological health, any long-term stress is debilitating to our bodies. Decrease your level of stress and reduce the likelihood of damage both to your relationship and to your physical health! 

The following quiz is designed to be taken by each of you individually to give both of you an idea of your starting point with regard to stress. Just like the trust-metric quiz we showed you last week, your results are likely to improve vastly when you practice Dr. Gottman’s research-based exercises from his long-awaited book What Makes Love Last? If you retake this quiz upon completion of the activities in his most recent book, expect improvement in your scores!

Circle the events you’ve experienced in the past year. Then, total the number of points assigned to the items you’ve circled:

  • Death of a spouse – 100
  • Divorce – 73
  • Marital separation – 65
  • Imprisonment – 63
  • Death of a close family member – 63
  • Major personal injury or illness – 53
  • Getting married – 50
  • Dismissal from work – 47
  • Marital reconciliation – 45
  • Retirement – 45
  • Major change in health of family member – 44
  • Pregnancy – 40
  • Sexual difficulties – 39
  • Gain of new family member (birth, adoption, elderly relative moving in) – 39
  • Major business readjustment (merger, re-organization, bankruptcy) – 39
  • Major change in financial state – 38
  • Death of a close friend – 37
  • Change to a different line of work – 36
  • Change in the number of arguments you have with a spouse – 35
  • Major mortgage – 32
  • Foreclosure of mortgage or loan – 30
  • Major change in responsibilities at work – 29
  • Son or daughter leaving home – 29
  • Trouble with in-laws – 29
  • Outstanding personal achievement – 28
  • Spouse begins or stops work outside of home – 26
  • Beginning or ending formal schooling – 26
  • Change in living conditions – 25
  • Revision of personal habits  24
  • Trouble with boss – 23
  • Major change in work hours/conditions – 20
  • Change in residence – 20
  • Change in schools – 20
  • Major change in recreational activities – 29
  • Major change in church activities – 19
  • Major change in social activities – 18
  • Minor mortgage or loan – 17
  • Major change in sleeping habits – 16
  • Major change in number of family get-togethers – 15
  • Major change in eating habits – 15
  • Vacation – 13
  • Christmas season – 12
  • Minor violation of the law (traffic ticket, etc.) – 11

Less than 150 points =  low risk of developing stress-related illness
150-300 points =  medium risk of developing stress-related illness
More than 300 points =  high risk of developing stress -related illness

Remember – this score is just a baseline estimate of your stress levels! Keep in mind that a great deal of the stress that you are experiencing may not be caused by your relationship. However, it may very well have enormous impact on your relationship if you let it build! If you use Gottman’s methods of stress-reduction, your stress levels are bound to decrease. On Friday, look forward to the first in a coming series of Dr. Gottman’s simple stress-reduction exercises.


More in The Archives
Quiz: How Much Stress Have You Been Under Lately?

Ellie Lisitsa is a staff writer at The Gottman Institute and a regular contributor to The Gottman Relationship Blog. Ellie is pursuing her B.A. in Psychology with an emphasis on Cognitive Dissonance at Reed College in Portland, Oregon.