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Better Understand Your Man

Adam and I have only been married three years, but we’ve known each other for a long time. (A third of my life!) I’ve always thought about him first as a man who is analytical and thoughtful, a sort of absent-minded-professor character. But when some of my own self-explorations showed me parts of me I didn’t know were there, I began to wonder: What if there is more to Adam than I am allowing myself to see? An exercise on a recent couple’s retreat helped me see past my preconceptions about Adam and accept him for all of who he really is.

Using Personality Quizzes to Understand Your Man

Find a block of time you and your partner can share alone. Turn off your cellphones and make sure children or roommates won’t interrupt you.

  1. Without talking to each other about it, take a personality quiz that divides individuals into different personality types. Yes, the results of these quizzes will be flat and not capture the fullness of who you are, but they serve as a great starting point for a conversation. You can use something simple like a four-color personality quiz (takes two minutes–quiz and meaning) or something more complicated and involved like a Myers-Brigg’s based questionnaire. If possible, print out your responses to the questions so your partner can look at them, too.
  2. Take five minutes apart to read through your own results. What about your personality-type sounds true? What doesn’t? What things about yourself do you like? Dislike? What kind of personality do you present to the world? To your partner? What traits do you try to hide? Write your thoughts down so you can share them with your partner.
  3. Sit together and quietly read each others’ responses twice. Try to avoid the temptation to explain yourself or react to your partners’ thoughts yet.
  4. When both of you are finished, have a conversation about what you learned. Were there any surprises? Did you find out something that made his behavior make more sense? Be sure to follow the rules of great conversations. Continue the conversation until both partners feel understood by each other.
  5. Over the next few days, brainstorm ways you can better accomodate each other in your daily lives. For example, if you crave more structure than your free-spirited partner, set flexible a schedule with certain cornerstones like dinner, bedtime, or date night in place. Or maybe your introverted nature is keeping your life-of-the-party husband more often than he would like. Find ways to compromise so both of you can feel happy and satisfied with your relationship.

So What Did I Learn?

Adam and I took a personality quiz that divides people into “Helpers,” “Thinkers,” “Organizers,” and “Catalysts.” There has never been any doubt that I organize things–I get some variation of that result with every personality quiz I take. But even though I’ve also assumed my brilliant husband was a “Thinker”–someone who understands the world primarily on an intellectual level–he ranked equally as an empathetic “Helper” and an independent-minded “Catalyst” as well. (He is emphatically not an “Organizer.”)

Taking that quiz really changed things for me. Yes, Adam is a “Thinker” who likes to think about and understand things. He is very involved with his thoughts, but like a “Helper,” he cares just as much about emotions. And unlike a “Thinker” he tends to bend the rules and doesn’t really care if his work is perfect.

I also learned to think of some of Adam’s habits in a more positive light. I once thought of Adam as a “Thinker” with no follow-through, someone who quickly developed new ideas but dropped them just as quickly. As an “Organizer,” I was afraid Adam was a smart man with a poor work ethic. I understand better now that Adam is also a “Catalyst” who gets bored and seeks out interesting projects. While I stick with a project I don’t enjoy for the sake of getting it done, Adam drops it and moves on to something more fulfilling. I faulted him for being unreliable, but I cannot fault him for the same trait now that I recognize his habit of flitting from project to project is an important part of his work process.

Even after nine years together, Adam and I still have many new things to learn about each other.

Interested in getting to know your man even better? I cannot recommend Worldwide Engaged and Marriage Encounters highly enough. (The retreats have a low-key religious component, but many different Christian communities hold them.) Spend a weekend away from the distractions of work and family learning to communicate with your partner and understand who he really is.

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