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Identify the Pressure Points in Your Marriage

Take this test to measure the level of stress in your marriage relationship and in your home life.

By Dennis and Barbara Rainey

As a kid, I (Dennis) loved birthday parties. The cake. The candy. The sugar high. The presents. The games—like Pin the Tail on the Donkey.

And then there were the balloons—in every shape and color. The balloons were a blast. We’d sit on them. Hammer each other with them. My friends and I would even rub them against our hair to create static electricity and then stick them to the walls.

Balloons were great fun. Still are.

These days, of course, you can buy those fancy foil helium-filled balloons from just about any grocery store. Have you ever watched them fill up those babies? If the worker puts too much air pressure into a balloon, it bursts every time. Balloons are a thing of beauty … as long as you maintain the right amount of pressure.

In the same way, marriage is a beautiful gift from God. But the pressure principle at work with balloons also applies to marriage.

All of us experience some level of pressure. That’s life. That’s normal. That’s expected. The key is to make sure you and I are not so over-inflating our calendars, finances, and commitments that we find ourselves at the breaking point.

Make no mistake. Pressure in your marriage, unless courageously addressed, always leads to problems—and perhaps to tragedy.

Take Charles, for instance. A 30-year-old husband and father described what happened when the pressure exceeded his capacity: “One day I just hit a brick wall, Dennis. I turned my back on everyone and everything I held dear. I felt overwhelmed by life, the demands of my job, family, and finances. Instead of turning to God, I totally freaked out.”

He described an affair he had with a coworker—while his wife was home nursing their 12-week-old daughter and caring for their three-year-old son. If only Charles and his wife had taken the time to identify the level of pressure building in their marriage. I’m convinced that—had they known how close to the edge they were—they could have taken steps to release some of that destructive pressure.

Test your pressure

How about you? Is your marriage, like a balloon, sailing along on a gentle breeze? Or is it about to burst?

Let’s find out. Place a checkmark in front of the answer in each section that best describes your family life on average. Keep in mind no family is perfect. No home is the ideal place to live. No marriage is perfect—as Barbara and I can attest.

Even so, if you are going to get a snapshot of how you and your mate are doing—and how pressure might be endangering your marriage—honest answers will help you identify the problems.


1. At the end of the month, our finances are:

__ 1) Okay, with a little left over.