Looking at Family and Couples Maps from Dr. Olson

Statement of Faith

We believe that God created man and that He created them male and female. As such He created them different so as to complement and complete each other. God instituted monogamous marriage between male and female as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society. Therefore, we perform and mentor marriages in accordance with Biblical guidelines. (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:4-6; John 4:16-18; Romans 1:18-32; 1 Corinthians 5:11, 6:9-11. 6:18-20, 7:1-3 and 7:8-9; Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 5:3-7; 1 Timothy 1:9-11)

If you’ve ever taken a PREPARE/Enrich assessment, here is some 

information why it is significant….. Rob and Cathie

Exploring the Couple and Family Maps

What are the Couple and Family Maps?

The couple and family maps are derived from Dr. David Olson’s research on the Circumplex Model. The maps
chart how each partner perceives closeness and flexibility in their couple
relationship and their family of origin.

  • Closeness is defined
    as the emotional bonding that couples and family members have toward one
  • Flexibility is the
    amount of change in leadership, role relationships, and relationship

The map is a 5×5 grid, consisting of balanced (white),
mid-range (light blue), and unbalanced (dark blue) squares. When a couple
answers the questions about the flexibility and closeness in their
relationship and family of origin, they are plotted on the grid. It is normal for individuals,
couples, and families to move throughout the map over time as they go through
life stages and/or face life stressors.

Why are the maps important?

These maps give you, the Facilitator, a look into how a couple
viewed their family growing up and compares it to how they view their couple
relationship now. This is important as individuals often tend to recreate or
reject the type of family system they grew up in. You might have couples talk
about what they want to repeat in their relationship and what they’d like to
do differently. In doing so, they may become more aware of how their
upbringing affects the patterns of their own relationship. 

Balance is key to a healthy relationship. 

Couples and families that fall within the balanced range (the
nine white squares in the middle) are considered the most functional and
healthy. As stated before, couples will move throughout the map over time, so
by receiving insight on where they fall on the map and why, they may be able
to anticipate how their relationship might change during different life
stages and events and prepare for them accordingly. Examples might include
increasing communication after the birth of a child, or being intentional
about spending quality time together when kids are older and the family is
pulled in many different directions. If the couple finds themselves in an
unbalanced range, it’s helpful to acknowledge that it is normal and often
temporary. You can use exercises from the Workbook for Couples to help the
couple take steps toward more balance.

How the maps apply to parenting styles

If a couple you are working with is interested in
understanding their parenting styles, have them take the PREPARE/ENRICH Parenting assessment.
This assessment goes in depth on the parenting styles of each individual in
the relationship. Their parenting style will get plotted on the Circumplex
Model, similar to the Couple and Family Maps, and show how flexible and
cohesive their parenting styles are.

There are five different parenting styles included on the map:

  • Balanced
     This style has a healthy level of
    parenting closeness and flexibility. Sometimes referred to in
    literature as “democratic” or “autocratic,” this
    style tends to be most healthy because there is a balance of
    age-appropriate child autonomy and parental control. Independence is
    encouraged and discipline is consistent and fair. Parenting is warm and
    nurturing without being overindulgent. Discipline tends to be consistent
    and fair. According to research, this parenting style is related to the
    best outcomes for children and teens.
  • Permissive
    parenting style allows the child/teen a lot of freedom and choice.
    Parents may have a hard time saying “no,” establishing and
    enforcing rules, and creating boundaries. Also called
    “indulgent” parenting, this style is characterized by high
    responsiveness to a child’s needs and high emotional connection. 
  • Overbearing
    referred to in literature as “authoritarian”. This style is
    typically demanding, with high levels of control and high levels of
    responsiveness and closeness. An “overbearing” parent is
    highly connected to their child/teen and also has high expectations for
    them to conform and comply with their rules, guidance, and
  • Strict
    This parenting style is characterized by
    predictability, order, and rules that allow little room for negotiation.
    Discipline tends to be firm. Unlike the “overbearing” style,
    however, emotional connection is low. 
  • Uninvolved
    parenting style allows the child/teen a lot of freedom and choice and
    few (or poorly-enforced) rules and boundaries, but lacks the emotional
    responsiveness characterized by the “permissive” style. This
    style is characterized by low emotional connection with few demands
    placed on the child.