For years, you've likely heard about people being classified into one of two categories based off of their energy level and way of moving through the world. In case you have no idea what I mean when I say "Type A" or "Type B", type As are go-getters. They don't like to procrastinate, they move quickly and efficiently, and they often are schedule-oriented, preferring to have a plan for their day. They feel best when they are accomplishing tasks and achieving goals. Type Bs are more laid-back. They don't mind waiting to get things done, they prefer to take their time when working on something, and they typically prefer spontaneity instead of a set schedule or plan. What feels freeing and good to a person who is type A is going to feel confining and overwhelming to a type B. So how does this work in a relationship where you may have two type As, two type Bs, or one of each? And how can you solve problems that each pairing typically runs into? Read on for more.
1. Type A + Type A
Strengths: As you can probably imagine, the couples you likely think of as "power couples" that you see in the media or know in your personal life are probably both type A. The type A couple finds it easy to get things done around the house together, go on adventures, and create quality time with family and friends. They live a full life and when they set goals together, they make it happen.
Challenges: The type A couple is typically moving at 1,000 miles an hour, either doing things together or with each person pursuing their own interests or socializing individually. This means they are not good at experiencing down time together and rarely find time to relax. Type A couples can find themselves feeling burnt out by all that they have on their plate. They also can lose connection with each other if they're too busy. If one person in the type A couple suggests that they slow down, the other will typically balk at this. The type A couple prides themselves on doing things together and accomplishing tasks, so one person may feel like the entire basis of their relationship is crumbling if one person wants to do less and the other doesn't want to change.
Problem Solving: Schedule time for relaxing. For a type A couple, if they don't schedule it, it just won't happen. Start with a couple hours that you block out on your calendar for nothing except being at home with your partner. Don't plan what you will do during this time - see what feels fun in the moment to both of you, whether it's watching a movie, a board game, or something else (as long as it's not a project or work). These couples can also have a hard time disconnecting from their phones so make sure those are put away during this blocked time. Also make sure that when you are making conversation with each other (such as during dinner), you're actually talking about and listening to how your partner is doing. This is different than talking about what you're going to do this weekend or scheduling logistics, which is what most type A couples tend to talk about. Change the subject and talk about what's going on in your inner world (feelings, hopes/fears, daydreams) instead of what's going on in the outer world.
2. Type A + Type B
Strengths: A "combo couple" as I'll call them, can have a lot of strengths IF they can understand and respect their partner without trying to change them. This couple is able to have the best of both worlds. The type A person in the relationship excels at getting things done and can keep the couple on track with their goals, while the type B person makes sure that not too much gets put on their plate at once. This couple is the most likely to find a good balance of "doing" and "being" as I call it, living a full life without being too overwhelmed by it. If they communicate openly with each other about what they would like out of the relationship, they are each other's biggest teachers in how to move through the world in a new way that neither of them may have experienced before.
Challenges: They say that opposites attract, but there can be some challenges with opposites. If this couple does not communicate, they are going to run into major issues. While the type A person might schedule a full weekend of activities without thinking twice about it, the type B person will quickly become resentful if they don't feel like they have a say in what's going on the calendar. Type As can have a tendency to take over, especially if their type B partner puts things off longer than they would like. This dynamic can lead to a relationship where the type A person runs the show and their type B partner gives up. The type A partner can get frustrated with their partner's seeming lack of drive and may say negative things to them without realizing it ("Why can't you get this done?") causing their type B partner to feel ashamed and shut down further.
Problem Solving: Communicate, communicate, communicate. And maybe even more so, respect, respect, respect. The biggest thing that will help this couple be successful is if the type A person takes a step back and the type B person steps up. Type As need to understand that type Bs do best when they are given space and time to accomplish something. When the type A person can respect this, the type B person feels more empowered and appreciated. The type B person in the relationship needs to communicate when they start feeling like their partner is doing too much instead of just going along with it. Typically, type Bs have been shamed a lot in their lives and characterized as "lazy" while type As have been praised and validated for their motivation and achievements. To make this relationship successful, both people must stop believing that the type A person is "right" or that this is the "best" way to go through life. When the type B person finds their voice, and the type A person actually listens to it and makes a change, this relationship can be extremely successful.
3. Type B + Type B
Strengths: This couple knows how to truly enjoy life and play together. The type B couple takes their time when they do things together and are more tuned in to what they feel like doing instead of what needs to be done. They both likely enjoy their partner's slower way of doing things (especially if either of them have been in relationships with type As in the past). They are flexible and adaptive and they likely don't get frustrated with each other too easily Their relationships are fun, relaxed, and easygoing.
Challenges: When two extreme type Bs get together, the results can be disastrous (though again, this is extreme). Housework can be put on the backburner indefinitely and instead of going out and doing things together, the couple may just stay at home doing...nothing. The relationship can start to feel stagnant and their responsibilities may be completely neglected. A more likely challenge is that, this couple just simply has a hard time getting goals accomplished. They may always talk about taking that trip to Hawaii and after 25 years together and multiple opportunities to do so, they've never done it. Household projects may never get completed or plans may never get finalized to have friends over for a party. This can leave one or both people disappointed deep down inside. Another challenge can come into play when kids enter the picture. If there's anything that can make a type B person become more type A, it's children. If one person becomes more type A (for any reason, kiddos or not) and the other stays type B, this can lead to combo couple conflicts as listed above.
Problem Solving: Goal setting may feel foreign to both of you as a couple, but it's time to give it a try. The goal of this is not to turn you into type As, but to show you how good it can feel as a couple to do something together that you both want. Pick something that you want to do or accomplish as a couple that can reasonably be done in the next 6 months (going on a trip, household project, etc.). It likely will take multiple steps and for the next few months, write down on a calendar (yes, an old fashioned one where you can put it up on the wall and see it - go buy one if you don't have it) at least one step a month that you will take to make this happen. Pick a specific day for each of the steps and do the step on that day. It may feel uncomfortable or confining or like work, but the end result will hopefully be worth it. This is a great way for the two of you to practice communicating and making decisions together, something that may be a struggle.