Some couples fall in love over candlelight at a fancy restaurant. Some see each other across a crowded room and the world stops spinning. Others think they hate each other passionately until they realize they are in love (Hallmark movies, anyone?). Eric and me? We fell in love guessing strangers’ personality types in our university cafeteria.
Nerds? Well, maybe just a little. ~smile~ To this day, we love discussing all things personality with friends, family clients, church members, and pretty much anyone who wants to dialogue. Recently, we were at an event when Eric overheard the phrase “Myers-Briggs.” He stopped in his tracks, literally backed up, and asked two complete strangers, “Are y’all talking about the MBTI?” From there, he went on to discuss the test with them for at least ten minutes. He left invigorated. They left educated. ~smile~
The more we understand each other, the more we can accept others’ weaknesses and praise others’ successes. So many times, I have thought, “Well, Eric did that because he is an Enneagram type 5,” or “He is upset because he felt disrespected and INTJs, more than any other type, need to feel competent.” Personality profiling is not to ever excuse bad behavior, but it aids us to understand motivations and explain to us what makes us all different from (or similar to) one another.
Along with personality, there are environmental factors which shape us. The human mind (and body) is so complex, we will never fully understand it all this side of Heaven.
Over the years, the following assessments have been a blessing to our marriage and to others with whom we have discussed them – single, dating, engaged, and married. While you prepare for marriage, look at these tests. Talk about your findings with each other. See what you can discover!
- Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) – Of all the assessments I will mention today, the MBTI is probably the most widely known (though, the next one is gaining popularity quickly). And, unfortunately, many free versions of this test have stormed the internet. Eric recently became a Certified Practitioner of the MBTI (trained by the Myers and Briggs Foundation) and learned in his training that the free tests leave a lot to be desired. (“They’re garbage” is the precise verbiage his trainer used. ~smile~)
For years, Eric believed he was an ENTJ. He scored ENTJ on all the free versions about 90% of the time (ESTJ the other 10%). However, when he took the official MBTI test online before his training, he scored INTJ… and balked. (“Yeah, this is not right.”) He took the official MBTI test again during his training using the paper version. Still INTJ. So, as a true INTJ, he researched. He thought. He contemplated. He kept digging into the cognitive functions. Finally, it fell into place and he realized… he is an INTJ. His clarified personality helped him make much more sense of his past (since he never was an ENTJ… just mistyped as one) and his current reality as well.
Since then, he feels a lot more congruent with himself. The more you understand about yourself, the easier you can interact with yourself and others. It provides an avenue for explaining your thoughts, motivations, and actions. Again, it is never for excusing bad behavior, but a way of saying, “Please understand me. This is who I am.” Understanding yourself and your partner helps you to pick your battles, avoid misunderstandings, and apply grace more liberally (e.g., He is not trying to get on my nerves… he just needs to verbally process his thoughts, etc.). And we provide the official MBTI Assessment in the second month of our program!
- The Enneagram – Eric and I are somewhat new to the enneagram, but from what we have studied so far, we are big fans. During a road trip, Eric read me The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile. It was entertaining and enlightening. When he read me the chapter about my number, I felt emotions overwhelming me. It hit me like an arrow through the heart. (“Yes! This! Wow!”) If you and your significant other find and take a free enneagram test, we would encourage you to follow it up by reading The Road Back to You and watching enneagram explanation videos on YouTube. We have learned that enneagram tests are good starting points for understanding your enneagram type – and not suitable as a final diagnosis. Sometimes what a test tells you will not match your self-diagnosis as you learn more (and that’s okay!). If you want to invest into this, you can also take the official RHETI test from The Enneagram Institute. Eric and I took these several months back. (It was our kind of date. ~smile~)
- DiSC Assessment – My first introduction to the DiSC (Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, Conscientiousness) Assessment was at a Homeschool convention when I was fourteen. Not surprisingly, my best friend and I scored oppositely. Though I do not remember a ton of details, I do remember my D and C were lower, my I was average, and my S was through the roof. My S is still soaring twenty-three years later! If other personality tests seem overwhelming, or you just want to dip your toes in, the DiSC is also a good place to start. (Eric’s note: My D and C are both above the cutoff line… what a pair we make! lol)
- The Four Tendencies – Have you ever heard of Gretchen Rubin? Years ago, she clerked for Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, and then left to become a (successful) writer. Along her path of researching happiness, she also discovered people fit into four motivational categories: the upholder, the obliger, the questioner, and the rebel. Knowing your tendency and your significant other’s tendency is so helpful for understanding their point of view. For years, it drove Eric crazy that I would inconvenience myself for others even if it inconvenienced him! Since he is a part of me (we are essentially one), my intention was not to inconvenience him but to meet outside expectations. In short:
- Upholders meet inner and outer expectations.
- Obligers meet outer expectations but not inner expectations.
- Questioners meet inner expectations but not outer expectations.
- Rebels do not meet inner or outer expectations.
- Her book, The Four Tendencies, explains each of these categories in detail. It is a great read and helpful for relationships – romantic and non-romantic! Also, check out her free Four Tendencies Quiz!
- The Psychological Audit of Interpersonal Relationships Test (PAIR Test) – Ah, the PAIR Test. The PAIR Test occupies a special place in our hearts. Eric and I were first trained to administer this assessment in graduate school and we have used it ever since with all our clients since 2007 (we have also investigated several other assessments – and this one still rings true as the best one we have ever found). If only we had discovered the PAIR Test before getting married, we might have saved ourselves some grief! After couples take the test, we score and graph the responses. The graph illustrates how they relate (i.e., pair together) in twenty different categories. Honestly, I cannot say enough about it. We love it and it is included in our introductory starter package. (It is also the most often cited element of our program that people have found beneficial from our services.) If you are interested in taking the PAIR Test, please contact us!
Twenty years ago, I bought a shirt which says, “I love nerds!” and I guess I do! (Eric will not let me donate it to Goodwill.) But, that is what we are – personality nerds and we are okay with it. ~smile~ Studying personality is not only a hobby/passion of ours, but we see the fruit of that study every time we avoid saying, “What is wrong with you?!” Knowledge is power, and we all want people – especially those we love – to understand us (and for us to understand ourselves better).
We are not sure where Eric and I would be today if we did not have a basic understanding of each other’s personality makeup. Perhaps we would seem like aliens to each other? All this to say, I am thankful for these instruments which make us all a little more understandable. God makes all kinds!
Which personality assessment have you found to be the most helpful?