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Dec 16, 2015

For years, I have been talking with clients about the important balance between assertiveness and consideration. Many times, people are too afraid to assert themselves because they have fear of seeming mean, domineering, or controlling. Yet, if you do not assert yourself at all, it is likely you will feel unhappy with your partner and within your relationship.


When coaching clients I will sometimes put assertiveness on a high-to-low scale. On one end, you have someone who is high in assertiveness and low in consideration for others. They may neglect to think about others and they may appear to be self-involved and self-centered. On the other end of the scale, you have someone who is low in assertiveness and high in consideration. They may be so considerate of others’ needs that they do not advocate for themselves because they feel it is inappropriate to assert their needs. Or they may be so focused on others that they don’t even know what they want. Both ends of the scale are out of balance. The goal is to be both assertive and considerate in relationship.

(These are my Empowered Relationship podcast notes. Be sure to listen to the episode to hear stories, examples, and more tips.)

One of the tools that I sometimes use with couples is an assessment titled Prepare – Enrich. The test results help identify a couple’s strengths and weaknesses so that the couple can work to improve and strengthen their relationship. The assessment is called Prepare – Enrich because it helps engaged couples prepare for marriage and helps married couples enrich their relationship.

Here are some interesting research findings from Prepare – Enrich:


Prepare – Enrich identifies four key relationship dynamics that affect the success of a couple:

  1. Assertiveness – the ability to express one’s feelings and ask for what one wants.

  2. Self-Confidence – how good one feels about oneself and their ability to accomplish what they want in life.

  3. Avoidance – the tendency to minimize issues and reluctance to deal with issues directly.

  4. Partner Dominance – how much one feels controlled or dominated by their partner.

A Positive Cycle Shows:

  • Being assertive builds self-confidence.
  • Being self-confident builds assertiveness.

A Negative Cycle Shows:

  • Avoidance increases the feeling or experience of partner dominance.
  • Feeling as though your partner is dominating and controling increases avoidance.

Those That Score High In Assertiveness:

  • Score higher in self-confidence
  • Tend to like the personality of their partner
  • Feel good about their communication and conflict resolution skills
  • Score lower in avoidance and partner dominance

Those That Score High In Avoidance:

  • Score higher in partner dominance
  • Tend to dislike the personality of their partner
  • Are less satisfied with their communication and conflict resolution skills
  • Score lower in self confidence and assertiveness

If you struggle with being assertive in relationship, then chances are you may struggle with self-confidence too. I encourage you to take one step towards practicing being assertive. This step could be something small like voicing your preference for dinner. Or you may want to spend some time thinking about what you would say if you were to advocate for your needs in relationship on bigger topics. I understand this is easier said than done, especially if you have had very little support or encouragement to articulate your needs. If you would like to support in becoming more assertive in relationship, please contact me. I would be happy to help.


  • Prepare – Enrich
  • If you are interested in taking the Prepare – Enrich test for your relationship, email me at

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Thank you so much for your interest in how to gain self-confidence in your relationship.

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If you are interested in developing new skills to meet relationship challenges, please consider taking the Empowered Relationship Course or doing relationship coaching work with me.