Can DISC explain why some couples, like my wife Leah and me, have stayed married for 36 years? Or why other couples “throw in the towel” long before “death do us part?”

I didn’t pick my wife based on her DISC profile — in fact, I didn’t know beans about DISC when I first met her. I just really liked being around her. However having learned to read DISC styles has helped us stay together.

Our marriage has had its ups and downs. There were many times over the past 36 years that I was ready to call it quits and so was she.

DISC is a personality style system. It’s a tool that’s been around for nearly 90 years and has gone through constant refinements. In DISC we measure four aspects of the human personality. We then look at the relationship of those aspects and  establish both a Natural more permanent style and an Adapted situational style.

In order for DISC styles to be helpful in making a marriage work, the interface of the two partners styles needs to be managed by them. This is easier for some styles to do than others — regardless it can be learned. For a marriage to work, often the responses need to be “Oh, its their personality style that is causing them to…”

I think one partner will tend to compromise more than the other. Certain styles are more happy to bend.

In a society that values Drive and Achievement, there may be a tendency to partner for maximum achievement. In my opinion, this tends to partner two high Drives. Unless Drivers are very self-aware, this is often a prescription for disaster.

The four aspects of DISC are Drive, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance.

DRIVE: That voice inside my head saying “I’ve got to make it”, “I can do it”, “I’m the one who can make this happen”, “It’s all about me”. Drive is about putting my ego on the line, if I fail I am hard on myself. The Drive voice inside my head talks tough to myself.

Under pressure Drivers tend to push people, rather than lead and they become impatient.

INFLUENCE: My ability to communicate with others in a way they like to be communicated with. Influence is about my flexible communication style. Influence is my ability to measure the effect of my communication on others — on the fly — and my ability to adjust to get my message through.

Under pressure Influencers become all heart over head and rely too heavily on verbal ability.

STEADINESS: My desire to stay for extended periods of time on one physical location. Steadiness is the desire for less movement and more stability. It is my desire for routines.

Steadies under stress resist change and internalize feelings when they should be discussing them.

COMPLIANCE: My belief in the value and importance of rules. My comfort in following the rules.

When feeling pressure Compliants experience analysis paralysis and avoid controversy.