Apr 19, 2024

Couples Surveys: Helpful or EZ-Passes to Hell?

Pairing up, perhaps for the last time

By Ed Goldman

Have you ever taken a couples survey? There seems to be one targeted for every age, starting with adolescence and marching relentlessly through to senescence. I’m sure “senescence” gets rebranded as Seniors-Plus! by marketers targeting the AARP cohort—but it does evoke deterioration, so I’m sure the questions would differ greatly from those posed to any generation with its own alphabet letter.

Most of these surveys seem to share a common goal: disruption. They should come with a cautionary note/ spoiler alert: “Warning: Some of the following questions and likely responses may cause a violent argument. We suggest taking this survey in an open-air setting which has no access to sharp objects, blunt instruments or ammunition.”

Edgy Cartoon

Clinical trial

When I was young, the surveys often appeared in magazines like Cosmopolitan and Seventeen, and featured acne-inducing inquiries along the lines of: “If your steady says he really likes your best friend, should you be worried?” or “Which season best describes you and your special someone—spring, winter, summer, fall or, for our California readers, fire?”

As I got older, the questionnaires assessed the respondents as 30-something marrieds or at least FWNB (friends with naughty benefits), and the inquiries took an unsettling quality, like: “When you and your partner argue, does one try to appear taller than the other? Or try to?” and “When, how and should you ever suggest to your lover some cutting back on the KitKat bars?”

Not long ago, my OSSO (oh-so-significant other) and I took an age-appropriate couples survey which, thankfully, didn’t mention arthritis or pickleball even once. It was an enjoyable exercise (again, thankfully) but it made me wonder why there shouldn’t be a more specific couples questionnaire. I asked this column’s companion/cohort/co-respondent consultant, Hedda Lotta Fellowes, to try her hand at creating one. Here’s what she came up with.

  1. When arguing over the TV remote, do you ever wish one of the dry-rotted ceiling beams in the cozy den of your mid-20th-century dreamhouse would suddenly come loose and pound your mate into the full basement?
  1. How do you, your mate, your life insurance agent and local police department define “acts of God”? And does it include dry-rotted ceiling beams?
  2. Which do you think is most worth getting hoarse yelling about? 

(a) The proper direction for a roll of toilet paper to emerge from its spindle; 

(b) The necessity of completely closing the cap of a diet tonic-water bottle so that the next time you pour some it isn’t presumed to have come from the Dead Sea; 

(c) What you really think about each other’s siblings; and

(d) Which siblings you should invite over to watch TV in your cozy den.

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  1. When arguing about politics, which of you is more likely to leave the room and return wearing a:
  • Civil War reenactment uniform?  
  • Marvel Universe costume? 
  • Surgeon scrubs? 
  • Grim Reaper getup?
  1. When your partner discusses a sexual fantasy with you, which of these is the least constructive reaction?

(a) “Ewwwww!”

(b) “Been there, done that.”

(c) “Alexa, call building Security.

  1. Should partners tell what they think would be ideal jobs for each other? 

(a) Yes, as long as the job wouldn’t require the partner to say, “You want fries with that?” more than 15 times per work shift.

(b) No, if you add that it would also be an ideal job for Genghis Khan, Vlad the Impaler or your ex-.

  1. If you decide to remodel the home you share, collaboration should be encouraged—yet where do you draw the line?

(a) When your partner says, “I’d like it to mirror the décor of the red-light district where I was raised.”

(b) When your partner says, “Any color’s fine with me, so long as it’s amaranth or gamboge.”

(c) When your partner says, “I trust you!” but doesn’t leave a forwarding address.    

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Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).