How Well Do You Really Know Your Spouse? Consider taking a personality test to find a deeper insight into your spouse and your marriage. BY SHARON BIRKMAN FINK
Understanding the intricacies of your spouse's personality will help your relationship.
As people find out every day, romantic love is simply not enough to keep a marriage together. Marriage requires work, sympathy between participants, and a willingness to accommodate differences. And that means the first step is finding out what those differences are.
There are many ways to do this. You can wait until problems reveal themselves and hope for the best or a husband and wife can try to figure out their usual behaviors, motivations, stressors, strengths, goals and interests by testing for them, using a reliable and validated method of personality assessment.
The same personality testing methods that businesses use to resolve workplace conflicts and strengthen team dynamics can also be used to determine how a "couple" works, allowing each spouse to understand and react to one another better.
Personality testing will not tell you whom you will love or with whom you will be happy. What it will do is allow a couple to find out specifically where tensions will likely come from and to understand that when a husband and wife rub up against each other the wrong way, it isn’t out of willful spite, but because each member of the marriage has different needs, goals, and ways they respond to stress. In fact, it may be those very differences that attracted each spouse to the other in the first place!
By using personality testing, you may find out that you and your spouse are complete opposites when it comes to how you deal with things. But don’t hire a lawyer yet: that merely means you will require a deeper level of understanding and empathy than another couple may need, which could actually bring you closer together and make your marriage even stronger.
Really, there’s no way to predict love or chemistry. But what can be understood are the psychosocial elements that make a person feel valued, such as:
1. Usual Behavior—an individual's effective behavioral style of dealing with relationships and tasks.
2. Underlying Needs—an individual's expectations of how relationships and social situations should proceed.
3. Stress Behaviors—an individual's "lashing out" style of dealing with relationships or tasks that threaten them, and behavior they show when underlying needs are not met.
4. Interests—an individual's preferences and inclinations.
5. Focus—the perspective from which an individual views problems.
Personality testing—at an advanced, psychological level—can give you deep insight into your spouse before it becomes critical. So, make a date of it, and learn things about the one you love that you never even suspected.
Here are some tips to get you started:
Ask the right questions. Get together and find out what he or she is holding back about. If a question seems like it may press the wrong button, write it down. In fact, write a whole letter; you may get something off your chest that’s been bothering you and you don’t have to give it to them. If all your communication is in bed at night, it may start to stagnate. Trust your spouse enough to give them your best.
Pay close attention to how your spouse responds to people other than you. The way in which they handle the personalities of people who are stimulating in novel ways may reveal sides of their personality that may surprise you.
Give to get. Spill your guts, and you may find out you have solved a piece of your puzzle for the one you love. The more they know about you the better you will deal with each other. You may think you are communicating, but you may just be going around in circles.
Enjoy the new person you discover. Fall in love again and again!
Taking over for her father, Dr. Roger Birkman, in 2001, Sharon Birkman Fink is President and CEO of Birkman International, Inc. providing a unique assessment tool that accurately measures internal needs, behaviors, occupational preferences and organizational strengths. She can be reached at 713-623-2760, firstname.lastname@example.org or www.birkman.com.