Is Your Spouse's Personality Normal or Abnormal?


By: Christine Hammond, LMHC

Is it normal or abnormal if your spouse…

1.       Does the exact same routine every morning and is resistant to any variation or change.    

2.       Losses their temper over minor traffic infractions and threatens harm. 

3.       Craves being the center of attention and is constantly seeking recognition.

4.       Shuts down and refuses to speak for days with no explanation as to why.

Answer:  it could be either.  Frustrated?  Me too, but hang in there.  It might help to define normal personality traits from abnormal personality traits and then apply each of the four incidents to the definitions.  This will clarify the difference between the two and help you to know where the line between normal and abnormal personality traits lies.

Normal Personality Traits are categorized by:

§  Persistent patterns of perceiving, relating and thinking

§  Consistent in most circumstances

§  Consistent viewpoint about self and others

§  Observed in a wide range of contexts

Abnormal Personality Traits are categorized by:

§  Personality traits which become inflexible and maladaptive

§  Omnipresent

§  Resistant to change

§  Early onset in childhood or adolescence

§  Cause significant functional deterioration

1.        Does the exact same routine every morning and is resistant to any variation or change.  Using the definition for normal personality trait, for some people doing the same routine everyday just makes sense.  They are personality type “Conscientious” from “DISC Personality Types” who likes to discover the best and most efficient way of doing things and once it is discovered, rarely change.  This is not an abnormal personality trait unless it is so rigid that when the routine is not precisely followed it causes significant impairment during the day.  If your spouse for instance becomes paranoid that something bad will happen because their teeth were brushed after taking a shower instead of before, then it is an abnormal personality trait.

2.       Loses their temper over minor traffic infractions and threatens harm.  Certain personality types like “Dominant” from “DISC” don’t like to be taken advantage of in any circumstances and are not afraid to offend nearly anyone in defense.  In many instances, they are bullies.  Yet, this is personality trait is still normal but can become abnormal when the threatening becomes more real or is followed up by some action.  For instance, if your spouse hunts down the other driver and gets out of the car to threaten violence, this is an abnormal personality trait.

3.       Craves being the center of attention and is constantly seeking recognition.  Personality types like “Influential” from “DISC” enjoy being on center stage and have an ability to create a stage nearly everywhere they go.  While they may come across as “showy,” this is considered a normal personality trait.  It becomes abnormal when the showiness involves “custom malfunctions” and inappropriate clothing or the need for recognition becomes a constant demand and is a regular complaint during discussions.

4.        Shuts down and refuses to speak for days with no explanation as to why.  While nearly any personality type is capable of this behavior, personality types like “Steadfast” from “DISC” use this tactic more than the others.  Because this personality type doesn’t like conflict, the best way to avoid it is not to say anything at all.  This is a normal personality trait but can become abnormal when your spouse becomes a recluse of sorts for periods of months not days.

So if your spouse is displaying normal personality traits, try understanding their personality type in comparison to yours.  Most likely, it is not the same which is precisely why it bothers you so much.  However, if your spouse displays abnormal personality traits, it is time to seek professional help as these traits are not likely to change.  There are many tools you can learn to help you cope with a spouse who has an abnormal personality disorder.

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