Two dominant personalities - can it work?


Hi, in my experience, I’ve noticed that most serious Catholic girls are strong-willed, and not just when it comes to their faith. I myself have a fairly dominant personality. My question to you is, can it ever work with two dominant personalities? If so, how to make it work?

Thanks in advance!


it would be great if both partners in a marriage were strong willed in regards to living the faith, the virtues, and Christian fortitude. It would only become a problem if one or the other applied that will improperly without charity in order to control and manipulate another person for their own purposes.


It works marvelously when both spouses practice **ALL **the virtues and **live **them. By doing this, one directs one’s “strong” personality towards God and doing his Will and not towards selfish desires that would lead to “dominating” one’s spouse.

Moral Virtues:

Theological Virtues:

Practicing the Virtues yields the Fruit of the Spirit:



Um, marriage between two dominant personalities sounds like disaster in the making. Absolutely, both parties must feel heard, understood, respected, and valued, but at some point there are issues with no possible middle ground. Do we buy this house or that house? Do we move out of state for a job opportunity, or do we stay where we are, close to extended family members? Somebody’s got to give, out of love for the other, to keep the peace.

My mom always suggested that the woman give in, just because someone has to. So I guess this question bears on the “Wives, submit to your husbands,” and the “Mutual submission” issues which have been discussed elsewhere. Are these two dominant personalities capable of introspection, discussion, negotiation, compromise when possible, giving in with good grace not resentment, and not going to make it a “my way or the highway” issue every time? I’m especially concerned when wives demand their way, “ladies first,” or else the man is just a mean, uncaring, male chauvinist pig. I think a man needs to feel respected and needed as leader (head) of his home, but how can he if he’s told the wife knows better than him or his wants/needs don’t count as much as hers? That’s what I see happening in general in wider society, “men are stupid, we women know better.” The pendulum has swung wide to this extreme from the opposite extreme, “the man knows everything and gets to decide everything, no question, the woman gets no say in any matter whatsoever” of a couple generations (or more) back.

Marriage is a chance to grow in holiness, maybe by learning to submit, even when (especially when) you don’t feel like it. Now I’m not saying the husband should trample his wife’s feelings, but will the two dominant personalities embrace their cross of submission for the good of the other (or for the good of the relationship) or resist that cross? Now there’s the question.


marriage between on strong-willed, domineering, controlling partner and one week-willed, childlike, manipulative partner with low self esteem is also a disaster in the making.


Why is that? Seems to be rather compatible.


For the complete answer that the question deserves, I highly recommend the book For Better… Forever by Greg Pocak.

There are several chapters that delve in to such a situation and why it is disasterous.

I highly recommend this book!


Just in case someone gets the wrong impression, strong-willed and dominant do not mean the same thing. There is some overlap, but they are not the same.


With two dominant personalites you’ll have to be careful. If anything if the dynamics of the relationship are shaped by two people mainly concerned with differing domains then it’ll complament eachother nicely. If there is overlap you’ll probably need to take some times where you both can step back and try to review how it is going and potiental problems, but once your in the middle of the battle, it can turn into an awefully bad dogfight.

As far as the weak willed with low self-esteem, that is always a recipe for problems in any relationships. People in a group will have to expend a lot of energy to try to mitigate the problems that stem from low self-esteem, and that takes away from doing what needs to be done.

The two dominate personalities if recognized could be a problem early, might be better off than others. In marriage your in such an intimate relationship that any possible problem that could happen probably will happen. If your ready for problems, you’re all ready one step ahead, even than those who match up well, but then leave themselves waiting to be left blind-sighted to potential problems.



At the Divine Level, Marriage is a gift from our Lord, one of many things that separate us from the other mammals on the planet. This is a truth, no matter what the morons say in the commercial media.

The Church made Holy Matrimony a Sacrament continuing to make Marriage a Sacred gift from God. Human Sexuality is also part of that sacred gift from God, as a major part of Marriage. I often ask myself, “Is the day to day sacrifices, work and even sexual relationship” “something I have to do” or is it “something I get to do” as part of this Blessed Marriage.

At the human level, marriage is a man and a women coming together to give of themselves. When one spouse consistently and repeatedly chooses not to give of themselves, that is the person who owns the unraveling and destruction of the marriage.

This is what Pope Benedict had to say about families earlier this month. 11/4, on

“The Pope also called the family a “sacred and sanctifying place” when he met Saturday with some 400 participants in the International New Families Meeting, which marked the 40th anniversary of the organization’s foundation.”

I always thought marriage would be such a natural continuance of life. Not sure why it has to be such a battle ground. Be the natural you and do not fake who you are. If you think you need to win every decision in a relationship Holy Matrimony is probably not for you at this time in your life and their is nothing wrong with that. Remain single and childless a few more years that’s ok. You just should be yourself and be comfortable with that, things always change in life.


I hope so. I’m five years into a marriage with a man as stubborn and dominant as I am.

Sometimes I give in.
Sometimes he gives in.
Sometimes we both walk away from an argument, calm down, come back and compromise.

For us it works. When dating, I wasn’t happy in relationships with men who weren’t strong like me.


Having a bit of the dominating temperament myself, I’d say it’s not so much that I think I need to win every decision, because I don’t think I do. I just do. :stuck_out_tongue:

Seriously though, I’ve noticed that lots of time people don’t really care about a lot of decisions, so somebody needs to come up with a directions to go towards. I’ve been in a lot of situations where that falls on me.

There are two problems that can come up with it. Sometimes there are people who don’t speak up, who’d rather do something else and eventually leave or things blow up. Of course I’m thinking, I cannot read your mind; I’d try to be mindful if you told me outright. Goodness I even try to ask it in a question if that’s what you want.

The other is that you get someone who is also dominating. In that case it takes disciple to work out with the other person where they have domain over making the decisions, places where you might give up decision making, and places you just don’t care. I can be tough changing up that style, but once you get the feel for the other person, you can do it. One also needs to be mindful of not pressing buttons that shouldn’t be pressed.

Also given all that I’ll also say, that I’m pretty easy going. I go with the decisions of plenty of other people, but I have my sphere of control.


I’ve only been married for 2 1/2 yrs but both of us are strong willed especially when it comes to our faith. My years as a single mom made it difficult for me to relinquish control to him at first. We both have had to make adjustments and compromises, but the result is that we have a strong marriage and I actually enjoy giving up some of that control.

I don’t like men who aren’t at least as strong as I am… so no whimpy husband for me…

One of the things I love about my husband is that he is strong, but not unreasonable. I love that we share our faith and I love how much we both can tell that the other is willing to do for each other and the kids. We don’t always agree on things… especially the discipline of the kids, but we always work it out without putting the other down or saying things in front of the kids.

Saturday night I showed him something his daughter had done online… he was upset because she did it right under his nose… he felt he knew what she was up to… and when I showed him, he realized she was pulling stuff. I was upset because I thought he should be more alarmed by what I saw and I also felt he was taking it too lightly…as it turned out… she duped him, when he saw that he got very upset. After the kids went to bed and we talked it came out that he was not upset with me, but with himself for not thinking a 12 yo was capable of such deceit. Anyway… point is… we both parent my kids and his kid… sometimes it causes stress because of the step family arrangement. We both make decisions about their welfare because that is how we feel it works best for the kids… a little more stressful for us, but this way the kids can’t play us against each other.


I’m an example of a serious Catholic gal who is (very) strong-willed about my faith, but not so much elsewhere. I’m usually pretty laid back, and I prefer to let some one else take the lead. About two dominant temperaments, I highly recommend “The Temperament God Gave You” By Art and Laraine Bennentt. It’s a great book on how different people work together in different ways, and why some people are the way they are. It’s an awesome book! It has a section on the different temperaments in marriage also, as well as the ways two dominate people can work together. :thumbsup:

God Bless!


Depends. On the one hand, I derive some pleasure from whacking bossy types on the wall and chewing them with bones and tendons, on the other hand, it’s not like it’s a fulfilling form of social interaction. There’s also a a type of cocky people I’m very, very short with.

With more submissive types, there’s no nonsense testosterone flow and you can generally talk, but I’ve developed my own issues over girls who could refuse a gentleman they liked (or a bit more), but who couldn’t resist a guy they didn’t care much for, they feared, but they… err… couldn’t resist. I respect people with bleeding hearts and I am myself one of those folks with a trouble saying no sometimes, but sometimes it can be depressing or annoying how people behave like sheep sometimes.

But I guess I’m talking about extremes here. I know what I couldn’t live with and those traits come from both sides of the spectrum. I couldn’t live with a person of the, “me first, me first!” kind (female counterpart of a guy who will budge onto the bus brushing old ladies aside) or with someone who believed he were superior to me (the problem with some, although not all dominant people). On the other hand, I couldn’t have a girl who couldn’t refuse a handsome guy at a party, obviously. I particularly like the combination of compassion and strong will. Someone who will take pains for other people and who will be honourable and able to keep promises. There’s no opposition here. :wink: … Perhaps to add a measure of opposition indeed, let’s say it’s nice when people have a bit of a sense of when they are right and when they are right and when they more or less know their boundaries, and are prepared to concede a point where due.

All in all, I know I just need someone with a right balance of will and compassion. Not someone who will exclude me by going her own way and not discussing anything (some people do that in relationships), not someone who won’t be able to stay faithful, not someone who will lie, not someone who will be steered by family and friends, not someone who thinks first of herself, not someone who can’t make sacrifices, not someone who lacks compassion, not someone who applies double standards. Whether this means dominant or submissive, I suppose there will be a great diversity of opinions. :wink:


That’s how relationships seem to me these days. I’d rather die single than have that. I’ve been in a few “relationships” where I’ve had such problems, but I always ultimately get out. It’s sad that it just looks this way everywhere you look, with the exception of wifebeater/macho types for whom those same women sometimes fall and get used. Chivarly is one thing, being henpecked is not a natural consequence of it. Sometimes I think modern women can have a henpecked man or an abusive brute, but not a normal man.

Marriage is a chance to grow in holiness, maybe by learning to submit, even when (especially when) you don’t feel like it. Now I’m not saying the husband should trample his wife’s feelings, but will the two dominant personalities embrace their cross of submission for the good of the other (or for the good of the relationship) or resist that cross? Now there’s the question.

What if you took a submissive husband and dominant wife? Something bleeds in me when I see that, except those cases which are actually funny. :smiley:


I second the recommendation for that book. :thumbsup:

Regarding the original poster’s question about two dominant personalities, if the Catholic girl is really serious regarding her faith *eventually *she reads and meditates on Ephesians 5. Two dominant personalities can get along if they keep mutual respect for each other and the other’s opinion, if they agree on who has the final say in decisions (Ephesians 5:22-24), if the other makes decisions based on love (Ephesians 5:25-28) , and if both make efforts to grow in holiness.

And as SMHW already noted, “strong willed” and “dominant” aren’t the same thing. Every person is capable of holiness, not just those with dominant personalities. A strong will regarding faith and morals seems neccessary to grow in holiness. God makes the weak strong and the strong weak.


Because it becomes a parent-child relationship instead of an equal partnership. Marriage is a partnership.

In the case of two dominant personalities, what you would need to do is delineate areas of responsibility that speak to each person’s strengths - for example, the husband can be in charge of one set of things, to which the wife says, “Okay, then that’s how it is,” and then the wife is in charge of a different set of things, to which the husband says, “Okay, then that’s how it is.” How they divide it up would depend on what they feel most strongly about, and what they are good at.

If they start off with as much in common as possible (religion, culture, attitude toward children, attitude toward money), then this system should work, at least most of the time.

With big decisions, they need to work together - and with big decisions, you need the help of a strong person, anyway - you don’t need a doormat who agrees with everything you say even when you’re blatantly wrong.


It can work–my husband and I are pretty strong willed personalities…why I think it works, is that I’m more expressive/amiable, and he is analytical…yet we are both strong minded. I think those nuances to our personalities, help us ‘fit’ well.

For me, I always wanted to marry a strong minded man, and I think my husband is getting used to, I mean he always wanted to marry a strong minded woman too.:smiley: He likes that I’m independent, and I like that he is independent…but we depend on one another, as life partners. I think that it can be done…you just need to discuss these differences before marriage. I believe in engagements being no shorter than one year, on average, to really get to know someone before marriage, so you can see if you can handle their personalities day to day. Just my 2 cents.:slight_smile:


Thank you all for your responses!

Very interesting. Never thought of it that way, but now that you mention it, maybe there’s some truth to that.

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