Updated: Mar 9, 2020
Written by Sharon May, Ph.D. and Alan Hart, MS, MAT
Do you and your spouse consider each other to be a safe haven? Do you trust
your spouse to care for you and hold your heart? Do you experience your spouse to
be there for you, to be understanding as well as react in a considerate and kind
Your answers to these questions are vitally important as they hold insight to
whether or not you perceive your spouse to be your safe haven. Why is it important
to experience your spouse as a safe haven?
Key to a good marriage is whether or not you perceive your spouse to be
your safe haven. That is, if you experience your spouse to be trustworthy,
emotionally available and will consider you when they respond. When you feel your
spouse cares, is there for you and that together you can face the difficulties of life,
your spouse becomes your safe haven. Your spouse becomes a source of friendship,
strength, comfort and love. Research shows that key to a happy and satisfying
marriage is the quality of your emotional connection, or whether or not you
perceive your marriage to be your safe haven.
The following is a quiz to help you discover whether or not your marriage is
a safe haven. The quiz is an extract from an empirically validated marital scale
designed by Dr Sharon May to measure the key ingredients of a safe haven in
marriage. It is highly correlated with a popular scale that measures marital
satisfaction, the Locke Wallace. In other words, couples who scored low on the Safe
Haven Scale also scored low in marital satisfaction on the Locke Wallace Scale. If
you perceive your spouse to be high on the safe haven scale, then you will most
likely experience your marriage as scoring high in marital satisfaction and
The Safe Haven Scale is comprised of three subscales, each an essential
ingredient to a safe haven marriage. The first subscale is trust. Do you trust your
spouse to be caring and loving despite what happens in your relationship? Second
is the subscale for emotional availability. Do you perceive your spouse to be
emotionally available to you? The third subscale is for responsiveness. Does your
spouse respond to you in a considerate and caring manner?
The way you answer each question in each section will give you an idea of
whether you perceive your spouse to be trustworthy, available or responsive. And if
you consider your spouse’s answers, determines what kind of safe haven you are for
your spouse. A sobering and not so pretty thought. Carefully review each question
because how you answer will give you insight and information in regard to the
safety of your relationship. And most importantly, how you and your spouse can
grow to be a safer place for each other. When you consider all three areas – trust,
emotional availability and responsiveness – you come up with an overall picture of
how you perceive your spouse (and how your spouse perceives you) as a haven of
1. My spouse is honest and truthful with me.
2. I can trust my spouse.
3. My spouse has the best interest of our relationship foremost in his/her mind
4. I can accept the decisions my spouse makes in important areas of our
5. My spouse is not self-centered or selfish.
6. I am certain that my spouse will not intentionally hurt me.
1. My spouse gives me his/her full attention when I need to share what’s
important to me.
2. I can count on my spouse to be emotionally accessible when I need him/her.
3. I am able to talk openly with my spouse about what’s important to me.
4. We give and receive support from each other with ease.
5. My spouse is willing to put aside what he/she is doing to spend time with me
6. My spouse does not seem to give more time and attention to things other
than our marriage.
1. Even though we might have different views, my spouse tries to take into
consideration my perspective.
2. I do not have to walk on eggshells around my partner.
3. When we are in conflict, my partner is still able to respond in a considerate
4. When making important decisions, I know my partner will think through my
point of view.
5. My spouse is understanding of my moods and feelings.
6. We are able to constructively resolve our relationship hurts.
Scoring your Quiz:
If you scored the majority of the items as 3, 4, or 5, then most of the time, if not all
the time, your spouse is either trustworthy, emotionally available or responsive.
You trust your spouse will be there for you and respond in a considerate and caring
If you scored any of the questions 2, 1 or 0, consider why, as that area of your
relationship is of concern. You probably don’t perceive your relationship to be a
safe haven in these areas. Think over how your spouse would have answered the
above questions. Review how you can change to make your relationship more of a
safe haven. How can you be more trustworthy, more emotionally available and
Choose to become a safe haven
Whether you are going through a season of conflict and disconnection, or if you are
in a marriage you look forward to coming home to, we invite you to enter a season
of renewal and growth. It is our prayer that even if your spouse is not in this growth
process with you, you will risk growing in these areas so that you can experience
God’s changing power in your life. Be the best version of you, choose to become
more Christ-like in the way you love and relate despite what your spouse does or
doesn’t do. Discover the person God has for you to be, and with courage be it in
every interaction with your spouse. Choose to become a safe haven, choose to be
more trustworthy, more emotionally available and more responsive. Your
willingness to grow as a person will bring you a sense of inner peace, and you will
find yourself living a life of integrity.
If you find yourself stuck in a very difficult marriage and unable to begin changes, it
would do you well to seek out help, such as counseling or a Safe Haven Marriage
Intensive. Risk to reach out and find resources to help you start on a journey to heal
your marriage and make it a safe haven.
Excerpt from Sharon May, Ph.D. and Archibald D. Hart, Ph.D., “Safe Haven Marriage:
Building a relationship you want to come home to.” Nashville: Thomas Nelson
Adapted from Sharon May, Ph.D. and Alan Hart, MS, MAT, “Safe Haven Marriage