Book that Changed My Marriage

book on marriage

Recently, my husband and I listened to Gretchen Rubin’s “The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People’s Lives Better, Too)”.

It’s a New York Times bestselling book and I’m not surprised. It helped me understand why people handle situations differently.


The most dramatic impact- it changed my marriage- for the better.


Basically the book explains how everyone fits into one of four tendencies- Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel.

Your tendency has everything do with how you respond to to outer and inner expectations. An example of an outer expectation would be a deadline at work. An inner expectation could be a goal you set for yourself, like working out four times a week.

To start off, my husband and I were pretty clear on our own personality type.

I’m clearly an upholder and he is definitely a rebel.  In addition, we both agree that the other person had assessed themselves correctly. And when we took the quiz, our guesses were spot on.


What was even more interesting is how completely different our tendencies are from one another.


From Gretchen Rubin’s analysis, rebels are the most uncommon of the four tendencies. Upholders are the second most uncommon. They also seem to be the most extreme opposites.

For those who aren’t familiar with the Four Tendencies, here is quick rundown from her website:


Upholders respond readily to outer and inner expectations;

Questioners question all expectations, but they’ll meet an expectation if they think it internally makes sense–essentially, they make all expectations into inner expectations;

Obligers meet outer expectations imposed by others, but struggle to meet expectations they impose on themselves; and

Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner alike.


As she puts it (and I agree) there is no “best” tendency. They have their strengthens and their weaknesses. So the goals from learning more about your own tendency, as well as the other three, isn’t to try to change yourself or others. Instead, it is so you can understand what motives you and also understand why others don’t respond to things the same way you do.

For my husband and I, this was eye opening. I can sincerely say we have a very strong marriage. I’m blessed to be married to my best friend. We rarely fight, and even if we disagree on things we are quick to talk things out.


We have different interests, but we are also each others biggest cheerleaders.


And while all this is true, we also handle things very differently.

I like lists, getting things done early, making goals, and sticking to plans.

He thrives (and excels) at last minute deadlines, thinking outside of the box, and figuring out the seemingly impossible.

And while I used to be confused why he would handle things certain ways, and often give him “advice” on things like how to procrastinate less, I now understand that was just crazy. Telling a rebel how to do something, or really any unsolicited advice, is literally the worst thing you could do.


Not because they don’t value your opinion, but because they aren’t going take it.


What does work? Just stay in your lane. Do what you know is working for you. If they see it does, and they are interested, they’ll ask. You aren’t going to change them or speed up the process with any of your “quick tips”.

In the same light, he has learned that my commitment to things like early morning workouts and weekend plans aren’t because I don’t want to be flexible. Instead, knowing that a couple of tasks are taken care of early on a Saturday, helps me relax and enjoy the weekend even more. And my structured mornings actually bring me a lot of joy, not dread, like they bring to him.

Learning more about how each person sees the world, and appreciating the ways others navigate their lives is actually helpful and incredibly enlightening.


When we aim to understand, not change, we can embrace each other and play to our strengthens.


And those of us who are upholders can plan away and get things done, while rebels think outside the box and come up with new and innovative solutions. And when both views are embraced, the outcomes are beyond what either could have accomplished on their own.