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Do you remember the old expression "you are what you eat?" I'm sure there's some truth in that, but that is not the focus of this column. I've also heard "you are not who you think you are. You are not who others think you are. You are who you think others think you are." Huh?

Anyway, suffice to say we are each unique individuals who share similar traits with others. It is my observation that we tend to want to hang out with folks similar to us for friendship, but someone very different from us for a life companion. You've likely heard the expression "opposites attract." This can be a very positive feature in a marriage, but it can also pose great challenges to the harmony and togetherness most couples desire.

I recently met today's guest columnist, but she has already had a profound influence on my life. Jill Davis is trained in personality principles and coaching strategies. A single mother of four, she is a successful business owner, life coach and speaker. She is also a 48 Days Mastery Coach and DISC certified trainer. Jill has been training personality styles for more than 15 years.

I am currently taking a webinar course with Jill on the DISC model of human behavior. This program provides great insights into how people think, act and interact with others. I am learning what motivates different types of people and how to best communicate with them in a manner they prefer. There is no doubt in my mind that a better understanding of personality differences can make for happier, more cooperative marriages.

Jill and I will be talking more about DISC and relationships on "TWOgether as ONE" at 6 p.m. Monday on KLJH 107.1FM. You can get more information about DISC and Jill's coaching service at www.JillDavisCoaching.com, 719-761-1106 or Jill@JillDavisCoaching.

Communicating based on personality style

Communication is the key to a good relationship. Our most important relationship is our relationship with our spouse. Our most important communication is our interaction with our spouse. Unfortunately, according to the Forest Institute of Professional Psychology, 50 percent of all first marriages end in divorce, 67 percent of second marriages end in divorce and for third marriages it is 74 percent.

Marriage therapists cite poor communication as the No. 1 reason for the end of a relationship. The second most common reason, according to a University of Washington-based study, is being overly critical of your partner's personality. To combat these two relationship killers you simply must understand how your partner is wired. You can then better connect with them through communication and understanding based on their personality style.

DISC is an instrument that allows us to communicate to the other person's emotional needs. It also allows us to find appreciation for their personality style as opposed to disliking it, and possibly building resentment.

Everyone walks around with a sign around his or her neck that says, "please make me feel important." That is simply our human condition. We need to feel important in our relationships.

In most first marriages, we marry someone with a personality style dramatically different from our own. This means, among other differences, faster paced people marry slower paced people and relationship-focused people marry task-focused people. Two opposites can create a beautiful wholeness when each lives in their strengths.

All strengths, however, taken to an extreme become a weakness, and when we are tired or vulnerable it is easy to move into our weakness. If the other partner is living in his or her weakness, the beautiful wholeness of opposites moves into the fracture of disconnected relationship.

DISC helps us to see the emotional needs of our partners so that in our strength we can celebrate their emotional needs. It also equips us to support them when they go into their weakness.

D personality styles need to feel appreciated for what they do. They become frustrated and edgy if they do not get rewarded for their hard work. Being taken advantage of is a D's greatest fear.

I personality styles need to be recognized for who they are. They become disappointed and feel lonely when they are embarrassed or shamed in front of others, especially their partner. Their greatest fear is the loss of social acceptance.

S personality styles seek to be recognized for their kindness and compassion. They become upset and afraid when their security is shaken. Their greatest fear is engaging in conflict.

C personality styles need to be recognized for the structure they bring to a relationship. They are uncomfortable inside a relationship when things are not going according to schedule and plans. Their greatest fear is being wrong.

The most important communication tip in relationships is that D and I styles process information at a different rate than S and C styles. The D/I style processes information at the rate of 3 seconds. The S/C style processes information at the rate of 7 seconds. Remember to either slow down your communication or speed it up based on your partner's communication style. Chances are when you make the effort to meet their style, they will be more willing to meet your style.

As your marriage grows and changes — relationship-proof it by recognizing that the strengths and weaknesses of your partner are wired in at birth. When you meet their needs and support them in their challenges, you will create the relationship that you most desire.

One last tip — gratitude for your partner's giftedness should be expressed clearly and often. To help in that endeavor, I have put together a Gratitude Journal which helps to bring giving gratitude to the forefront of your mind, and thereby make it a more regular feature in your relationship. If you would like to offer a free e-gratitude journal, please let me know and use the code NM GratitudeGift at jilldaviscoaching.com to receive it free.

Ron Price is the co-founder and executive director of the Four Corners Coalition for Marriage & Family, a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening and equipping marriages and families in the Four Corners area. He can be reached at 505-327-7870.

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