Help! I'm Married to an Opposite Personality Type!

When you are married to an opposite personality type, how do you make your differences work for you?

The cause of most marital conflict is not because they are from "different planets" or genders, as John Gray proposed in his best seller. The more common, everyday conflict occurs when two opposite personality types try to make a joint decision. They simply see the situation from vastly different perspectives—which can lead to great consternation when there is a lack of deep appreciation and understanding of the other’s approach. "My spouse doesn’t understand me!" is a phrase I hear often in marital therapy. If you want to improve the quality of your marriage, an essential ingredient is the degree of understanding—and appreciation—of the other's approach to issues due to their personality bias.

While few couples have had training in personality types, in my book Married to An Opposite I cite a recent study indicating that more than half of married couples bring differing personality approaches to the four most critical areas of marriage. They are decision making, belief systems, energy replenishment, and life-style preference. With a deepened understanding of differences—which often opens new dimensions of wisdom and proficiency in previously unseen or undervalued areas—new vigor and love can be created. Moreover, these differences can be pointers to the pathway of wonderful personal growth for each partner.

For therapy that focuses on appreciating differences in personality type, it is especially helpful to work with a therapist trained in the Myers-Briggs Personality Preferences field (good news: this therapy has a positive orientation so there’s nothing to fear in being assessed!).

Click here to view Dr. Ron Shackelford's profile.