For many years, I have been investigating styles of thinking. Styles are about how one likes to approach and solve challenging situations in one’s life.
They are not abilities—they are preferences.
I have come to realize that compatibility in styles plays a major role in the success of intimate relationships.
In my “theory of mental self-government,” there are 13 styles of thinking. But here I am going to concentrate on just three styles: legislative, executive, and judicial.
What are legislative people like?
Legislative people like to come up with their own ideas. They like to take their own individual, sometimes unique perspective.
They don’t like to be told what to do. They want to venture out on their own.
They tend to like activities that give them a free range to exercise their imaginations. They tend not much to like multiple-choice, short-answer, or other fill-in-the-blank kinds of activities that are structured by others.
What are executive people like?
Executive people like to work within guidelines. They like to be given a structure and then to work within that structure.
They are not seeking to be imaginative in everything they do—rather, they want to be the people who excel within whatever the boundaries are that societies, schools, workplaces, or other structures set for them.
They tend to like multiple-choice or short-answer tests, because such tests give them a chance to show their knowledge and to show that they are ready for the next challenge.
What are judicial people like?
Judicial people like to evaluate, judge, and critique. They tend to be critical. They look at what others say and do and tend to assess whether it meets their own internalized standards.
They often use their evaluations of others to improve their own work.
When you are with someone who is judicial in style, you may feel like you are being judged—because you are.
Judicial people like to give critiques and comment on what is wrong with the way things are done. They prefer evaluative essays or presentations to multiple-choice or short-answer.
How do thinking styles influence your relationship?
No one is purely legislative, executive, or judicial. We all are some mix. But people do have their preferences, and these preferences extend to relationships.
Two legislative partners
Two legislative people tend to enjoy each other’s company because they are both constantly coming up with ideas.
The relationship is stimulating and also may give rise to all kinds of new adventures that neither individual would have thought of on their own. The relationship is rarely if ever boring.
But two legislative people and can get into trouble when (a) their ideas conflict and (b) both are quite sure that their idea is the better one.
Legislative people sometimes feel they have to fight for their ideas, and if the partners in the couple disagree with each other, they may end up fighting!
Another problem two legislative people may face is deciding who is actually in charge of getting things done. Sometimes, they are better at coming up with ideas than at executing on them.
Two executive partners
Two executive people feel comfortable with each other. They both tend to conform to societal and other guidelines and are eager to work to excel within those guidelines.
They are not seeking to overturn the sailboat. Rather, they are seeking to sail as rapidly and as far as they can within whatever sailboat society gave them.
Their biggest risk is that if things change, neither may be inclined to change the structure within which they work.
They simply don’t gravitate toward novelty, but sometimes novelty gravitates toward them, whether they like it or not.
And if their routine becomes stale, it may take them a long time—too long—to notice it.
Two judicial partners
Two judicial people can have a lot of fun together. They like, for example, to go to dinner parties and then critique the behavior of the others who were there.
Or they may jointly critique the political scene or the scene in one or both of their places of work. They may go on for hours saying what is wrong with everyone else.
Their risk is that they turn their judicial proclivity on each other. In that case, they may start, metaphorically, tearing each other apart.
One legislative and one executive partner
A legislative person and an executive person can be a good match. The legislative person tends to be the person who comes up with the ideas and the executive person tends to be the one who executes them.
So, they are a good match, because each partner specializes in a different set of tasks.
These couples too, though, may have challenges. The legislative person may become bored or frustrated with the executive person. The legislator may feel lack of stimulation or challenge with their partner.
The executive partner, on the other hand, may come to resent the legislative partner always trying to be the decider while they are left to execute and, metaphorically, do the “dirty work.”
One legislative and one judicial partner
A legislative and a judicial person also can be a good match, because the judicial person will be quick to find the flaws in the legislative partner’s ideas and plans.
Just because someone is legislative does not mean that their ideas are all good. The judicial partner can help the legislator distinguish their better from their worse ideas.
Where a problem may arise is when the legislator feels that the judicial partner is there to undermine them. That is, the legislator comes up with the ideas; the judicial partner shoots them down. That can cause resentment.
And the judicial person may feel like their contribution is not appreciated because it is the legislator rather than they who comes up with most of the ideas.
One executive and one judicial partner
An executive partner and a judicial partner also may do well, as the judicial partner can help the executive partner be more efficient or effective in their execution. They may point out the need for tuning up the way things are done or even of changing course to get things done.
Where these partners may have trouble is in coming up with the ideas to execute in the first place. They may take their ideas from others and then find out that the ideas are not a good fit to them.
What kind of stylistic preference do you have? How about your partner?
Would it help you if we put a styles questionnaire online on the website? Let us know. If there is enough interest, we could make it happen!