This is the second in a series of exercises which can be found in the Hold Me Tight Workbook A Couple’s Guide For a Lifetime of Love by Dr Sue Johnson.
The acronym A.R.E stands for Accessibility, Responsiveness, and Engagement, which are crucial elements in love relationships. The strength of a relationship is found when we find ourselves asking questions like, “Do I matter to you? Can I reach you? Are you emotionally available to me? Can I rely on you to respond when I need you? Will you engage with me and give me your attention?” These A.R.E. questions often remains hidden under the surface during recurring arguments that revolve around practical concerns such as chores, personality differences, sex, children, and finances. Partners who feel secure and loved can navigate these differences and issues collaboratively, whereas those who don’t tend to channel their relationship problems and fears into constant disagreements.
QUESTIONNAIRE: How A.R.E. You?
Does your partner’s perception of how accessible, responsive, and emotionally engaged you are, fit with your view of yourself and how safe your relationship is? Read each statement and answer T (true) or F (false). You can complete the questionnaire individually, then either reflect on the answers on your own, or discuss your answers together.
From your viewpoint, is your partner available to you?
- I can get my partner’s attention easily. T F
- My partner is easy to connect with emotionally. T F
- My partner shows me that I come first with them. T F
- I am not feeling lonely or shut out in this relationship. T F
- I can share my deepest feelings with my partner. They will listen. T F
From your viewpoint, is your partner responsive to you?
- If I need connection and comfort, they will be there for me. T F
- My partner responds to signals that I need them to come close. T F
- I find I can lean on my partner when I am anxious or unsure. T F
- Even when we fight or disagree, I know that I am important to my partner and we will find a way to come together. T F
- If I need reassurance about how important I am to my partner, I can get it. T F
Are you positively emotionally engaged with one another?
- I feel comfortable being close to and trusting my partner. T F
- I can confide in my partner about almost anything. T F
- I feel confident, even when we are apart, that we’re connected to one another. T F
- I know that my partner cares about my joys, hurts, and fears. T F
- I feel safe enough to take emotional risks with my partner. T F