I have friends who are the perfect D / S combination. They’ve have been very happily married for over 30 years with the exception of year #26 when they came close to a divorce. You would think that after 25 years of bliss they would have understood each other well enough to handle any challenge, but when Personality Style opposites start behaving in “Weakness Mode” disasters can happen. This is their story……
To hear Christopher and Jodi tell it they had no choice, it was love at first sight. He is a determined D with exciting goals and lots of self-confidence and enthusiasm. She is a very sweet S who believed in him instantly and wanted to be there and help him gain his success.
They graduated from college, married, and Chris entered the corporate world on the fast track to upper level management while Jodi taught elementary school. His specialty quickly became innovation and change. His D Personality Style thrived in the challenging, fast-paced, decision-making environment. When they started their family Jodi happily morphed from teaching to executive wife, loving every minute of taking care of the kids, supporting Chris, and volunteering in the community.
23 years into his career, the owner sold the company. During the transition to new ownership, upper level management was replaced. Chris was suddenly without a job. He considered retiring, but knew at age 45 he wasn’t ready. He was heavily recruited by several companies but none of them had a position that excited him. He considered consulting but that didn’t entice him either. One night one of his friends persuaded him to attend a network marketing meeting. The guest speaker had achieved financial independence working with the company. Chris came out of there certain that he could do better and he could do it faster than the speaker.
Within 18 months he was shattering performance records. His D Style was a natural for the industry. He pulled the best out of people and pushed them to attain the success they wanted. He made things happen through innovation and plain old hard work. His motivation was at it’s peak as he was in control, making choices and being challenged.
Jodi was in the support role she loved and this time it was even more exciting for her because she had more of a hands on role. She could see things Chris didn’t notice: who deserved recognition, who needed help, who was struggling with confidence, etc. Their awesome relationship became even better as they worked together with their team.
I hadn’t seen them for about 6 months so imagine my shock when Jodi confided that she and Chris were having horrible problems. “He’s no longer the man I married”, she said. “He’s become restless and extremely insensitive. The least thing can set him into an angry tirade and his filter has disappeared to the point that he’s abrupt and rude in a professional environment. He’s even sarcastic and impatient with the kids and that’s never happened before.”
She also said she didn’t like who she was becoming. “We used to be great at communication but now I’m biting my lip all the time to avoid an argument. His actions are painful but rather than telling him, I find I’m hiding my anger to avoid an argument and then I’m dwelling on it later. After so many wonderful years I honestly don’t know what to do!”
I asked her if there was a problem with the business. She laughed and said no way! Chris had developed a system that virtually ran itself.
I asked if there were any other challenges or new ideas he was tackling. She said no, everything was running on autopilot.
I suggested to Jodi that while autopilot in her world was perfect, for Chris it could be his worst nightmare!
I reminded her of their personality differences. I suggested for her S everything they had achieved (stability, security, status quo) made HER world perfect. Chris is a “play to win” D, an active mover and shaker:
- He needs a challenge – at the moment he has none.
- He needs to be making major decisions – he’s made them!
- He needs to be in control of things – the system he created and the people he trained are doing that for him.
“Without challenge, choices and control Chris probably feels useless and that is something he is not used to feeling! It appears to me that in this situation he’s restless and frustrated and as a result is operating in the weaker characteristics of his D Personality Style“.
“What do we do? Start a new business?” Jody asked.
“Perhaps it can be a lot simpler”, I replied. “Maybe he just needs a big project. Didn’t you once talk about building your dream home in the South at the beach?”
“Yes, but that’s down the road when we’re planning to retire.”
“Why wait?”, I suggested. “Do it now!”
“Are you crazy! That would be impossible with our current schedules. There is no time to plan the house and build it long distance. It would be a disaster!”
“Jodi”, I said, “Let’s be honest. WOULD IT BE A DISASTER FOR BOTH OF YOU or a disaster for ONLY YOU?”
She had to admit that while she hated the idea she knew Chris would probably love it and….he did!
The challenge put him right back into “D Strengths“. He commuted back and forth overseeing the construction. While in their new city he started another team for their business. He designed their new home with an office/meeting room wing for presentations. When the new home was complete he added a similar space to their northern home.
Chris and Jodi are once again happy as can be. They’ve gained an understanding of each other’s Personality Style’s needs and they’ve created a relationship where their needs are being met. They make sure his D has challenge and excitement as they maintain consistency for Jodi’s S so she can thrive at doing what she most enjoys – supporting those she loves.