Couples and Personality Type
When you understand personality preferences, you can more readily
appreciate differences between you and people closest to you in
your life such as partners, children, and friends. In most areas
of life, when differences between yourself and another person
bother you too much, you can avoid the other person in some way.
But when that person is a family member or close friend, you have
a lot to lose by walking away.
Knowledge of MBTI® type allows
you to see those differences as just those—different ways of seeing
things. Instead of labeling a person and putting value judgments
on his or her behavior, you can learn to see your partner’s behavior
as reflecting personality type, not something designed to offend
you. Many couples even learn to see the differences in a humorous
Religious organizations, as well as independent counselors, often
use the MBTI instrument for premarital counseling. This allows
a new couple to identify areas of difference that may cause conflict.
The respect created by this awareness can go a long way in weathering
In marital counseling, the use of type can create a neutral ground,
a nonjudgmental language for discussing misunderstandings and
irritations. Change in a relationship can begin when there is
respect for the qualities of each partner. Even when a relationship
is ending in divorce, understanding the influence of type can
lead to a much more amicable process and better understanding
of what happened.
A knowledge of type preferences can also help couples and families
negotiate differences in approaches to lifestyle, intimacy and
affection, division of chores, managing money, and other areas
of potential conflict.
Using Personality Type in Families
Family lifestyle requires the harmonious melding of all members
of the family. Understanding of MBTI type can lead the way. When
family members understand type, they are less likely to assume
they are “right” and others are “wrong.” This is true across many
issues including management of time, schoolwork, decision making,
family recreational activities and vacations, or rules of the
For example, parents sometimes assume that a child who does not
meet commitments is showing poor character; type can help frame
how different types approach management
of time. A parent who worries about her “antisocial” child can
use type to see this need for solitude as simply Introversion
after a school day that requires a lot of Extraversion.
When parents themselves differ in parenting styles, including
discipline and sibling conflict, knowledge of type can show them
how to compromise on a style that respects the preferences of
each parent—and the type of each child. Knowing the preferences
of children may also be of assistance in dealing with school issues
and what may appear to be “problem” teachers. Further investigation
may reveal radically different learning and teaching
styles that may be solved when both parties recognize the differences
in type preferences.
Type can be especially important in blended families where the
type mix in each former family must be blended in a way that respects
the preferences of all members of the new family.
16 Ways to Love Your Lover by Otto
Kroeger and Janet M. Theusen (Dell 1994)
Families by Charles W. Ginn (CAPT 1995)
Gifts Differing by Isabel Myers (Davies-Black 1980)
The Hidden Gifts of the Introverted Child by Marti Olsen Laney (Workman Publishing Company 2005)
I’m Not Crazy, I’m Just Not You by Roger R. Pearman and
Sarah C. Albriton (Davies-Black 1997)
Just Your Type by Paul D. Tieger and
Barbara Barron-Tieger(Little, Brown & Co. 2000)
Motherstyles by Janet P. Penley and Diane Eble (Penley and Associates 2006)
Was That Really Me? by Naomi L. Quenk (Davies-Black 2003)
Wired for Conflict by Sondra S. VanSant (CAPT 2003)