Psychological Type and Relationships
Type in Everyday Life

"Good type development can be achieved at any age by anyone who cares to understand his or her own gifts and the appropriate use of those gifts."
Isabel Briggs Myers

Couples and Personality Type

When you understand personality preferences, you can more readily appreciate differences between you and people closest to you, such as spouses, partners, children, and friends. In most areas of life, when differences between you and another person are bothersome, you can avoid the other person in some way. But when that person is a loved one or close friend, you have a lot to lose by walking away.


Knowledge of personality type allows you to see those differences as just those—different ways of "being." Instead of labeling a person and putting value judgments on his or her behavior, you can learn to see it as behavior reflecting personality type, not something designed to offend you. Many couples learn to appreciate these differences and may even see them in a humorous light.


Religious organizations, as well as independent counselors, commonly 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 married life.


In marital counseling, the use of type can create 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 provide a less blaming perspective for what happened.


Knowledge of type preferences can also help couples and families negotiate differences in several key approaches to lifestyle, intimacy, division of chores, managing money, and other areas of potential conflict.

Using Personality Type in Families

Family lifestyle requires a harmonious melding of all members of the family. Understanding of MBTI type can lead the way. When family members know and understand one another's type, they are less likely to assume they are "right" and others are "wrong." This is true across many issues including management of time, approaches to schoolwork, decision making, recreational activities and vacations, and even rules of the household.


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 approaches to discipline and managing sibling conflict, knowledge of type can show them how to compromise on a style that respects the preferences of each parent—as well as the type of each child. Knowing the preferences of children can also be of assistance when dealing with school issues and what 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 from a former family needs to be blended in a way that respects the preferences of all members of the new family.

Resources

16 Ways to Love Your Lover by Otto Kroeger and Janet M. Theusen (Dell 1994)

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)

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