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My Marriage is Doomed and Other Lessons from Gretchen Rubin's Talk

[caption id="attachment_3615" align="alignnone" width="500"]jeffandme Photo credit: Amy Pinard Photography[/caption]

I have realized a problem with my marriage. Yep. While seeing one of my favorite authors, Gretchen Rubin, speak the other night, I learned a possible reason for why my husband and I drive each other crazy in certain cases.

It comes down to this: I am an Upholder and he, I'm fairly certain, is a Rebel. These are two of the four habits categories Gretchen has identified in her latest book Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives. And according to her, it is rare that Upholders and Rebels work together.

Doomed. (Sorry, you had to find out this way, sweetums.)

Here's how the categories break down. It all has to do with how you meet expectations.

  • Upholders meet both their own and others' expectations.

  • Obligers meet others' expectations, but have trouble meeting their own.

  • Questioners meet their own expectations, but question others' expectations.

  • Rebels resist all expectations.

Do you see that little difference between Upholders and Rebels? That little disparity? I am a rule follower. I can't even go in the out door at a store. I stressed out for a good hour about what to wear to see Gretchen speak. I wanted to wear jeans, but I didn't know if that was acceptable since it was hosted by the chamber of commerce. I tried several different outfit combinations before deciding that jeans and a blazer would make me most comfortable and probably meet a dress code. Being comfortable is a happiness rule from Gretchen's earlier book The Happiness Project, so I told myself she would approve of my choice.

My husband has no such problems. He does what he wants, when he wants, how he wants, regardless of the rules.

My husband resists categorizations as well, so if he has read this far he is probably reeling right now. I rather like categorizations. (See? Doomed.) They help me understand myself and others and help me understand what to expect (or not) in my interactions.

There is plenty more information about all of these types in Gretchen's book and on her website at If you're curious about your own type and can't quite decide based on the list above, you can take her quiz to find out where you fit. (Update: My husband took the quiz and the result was Rebel, just as I suspected. DOOMED!)

I have already started considering how the various types might think differently and what that might mean for relationships. What does this mean for how I interact with my stepson? Where do my friends fall in this outline? How do we approach situations differently because of it?

I am excited to dig into this book to see how I can improve my own habits. Maybe I'll even find a few tips for being in partnership with a Rebel. After all, he's kind of hot. Even if he does make things difficult. (We joke that I Make Things Difficult would be the title of his biography if he had one.)

I know we can make this whole paradox work. We have survived almost seven years of marriage so far. Categories be damned.

And seriously, if Gretchen Rubin is ever in your area, go see her. She is an engaging speaker, so delightful in person, and she knows her stuff about happiness and habits.

Now, I am off to work on some of my own habits. After all, she signed my book with "Begin now!" I would like to meet that expectation.

[caption id="attachment_3613" align="alignnone" width="300"]insta_Upholder Image credit:[/caption]



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