Love, Self

Sex, Neuroticism & Marital Satisfaction

Does your significant other have personality characteristics that drive you insane? Maybe your loved one seems to get stressed out about the smallest things. Or perhaps your mate forgets to pay the electric bill month after month. Does a less than favorable personality characteristic mean certain doom for your relationship? 

Personality is defined as an “enduring” set of characteristics about a person. Our personality is said to determine how we react in different situations and settings. Most psychologists agree that our personality is stable over our lifetime. Although we cannot change the personality of our partner, we can learn how to understand our partner better.

For starters, circle which of the following descriptions describe your significant other. 
1. Typically high strung
2. Constantly anxious or worrying
3. Sees small setbacks as major difficulties
4. Insecure
5. Has difficulty controlling urges
6. Often displays more negative affects

Next, read through the list again and identify which of the characteristics describe you. 
If you circled three or more of the above descriptions, you (or your mate) may score high on a personality characteristic called neuroticism. People who score high in neuroticism often display several of the above characteristics.On the other hand, people who score low in neuroticism tend to be calmer, more even-tempered, and less tense about life.

One way to better understand your personality type is by taking a full length personality test administered by a psychologist. Fortunately there are also some good, shortened personality tests that can be found online. One online personality test that I recommend to my students is the Big Five Personality Test located at

After answering the 45 questions on this free online test, you can immediately find out where you place in the five key areas of personality, including openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Your scores on the test are compared to others who have also taken the test, and score results are displayed as a percentile score. 

For the neuroticism portion of the test, the higher your percentile score, the higher you are in neuroticism. Higher scorers tend to have more of the personality characteristics that are listed at the beginning of this article.

What is great about this test, besides the fact that it is free, is that you can rate yourself and/or rate a loved one. You can then compare the scores of yourself and your loved one, although I do recommend that you both take the test for yourselves. At the end of this article I will discuss an exercise that you can do with your partner to gain increased understanding of one another and help with communication.

What happens if you and/or your partner do score high in the neuroticism scale?
Having a partner who is high in neuroticism can lead to decreased marital satisfaction, but only if the sexual relationship is also affected in a negative manner. If you have a partner who is high in neuroticism, but you are both maintaining a satisfying sex life, then the effects of the neuroticism can actually be mediated. The big question here, however, is what leads to the other. Does the healthy sex life lead to a happy marriage?  Or does the happy marriage lead to a more satisfying sex life? But the bottom line is, if your partner is high in neuroticism and you still have a good sex life, chances are that your marriage will have continued success. 

Here is an activity that you can do with your partner to help increase your understanding of one another:
1.  Take turns taking the Big Five Personality Test at and print out your results. Remember to answer the questions as truthfully as possible for better results. Sometimes it can be helpful to talk out your answers to each question.
2. Compare your results to one another’s. Try to keep an open mind when discussing the results.
3. Discuss with your partner whether or not the results seem correct. Discuss specific examples about why the results seem accurate for each of you.
4. Discuss how you can use these results to better understand one another. For example, if your partner scores low in conscientiousness it may explain why the bills get paid late or the “honey do” list never gets completed.
5. Discuss with one another how you can be more supportive of one another after gaining a deeper understanding of one another’s personality. Also discuss how you will work on bettering yourself and your marriage based on these results.

When done with an open mind, this activity can greatly lead to increased communication and marital contentment. It is important to note that you cannot change your partner's personality, but you can learn how to cope with it and accept it. Also remember that having a satisfying sex life can mediate the effects of some of the less than favorable personality characteristics.  Fireworks in the bedroom can really compensate for any personality flaws.