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How Personality Changes Over Time

 Posted on March 31, 2017 in Divorce

Lombard family law attorneyWhy did you marry your spouse? Most people answer this question by explaining all the desirable characteristics that the individual had that made them a good potential partner. They tend to note that their spouse was kind, thoughtful, generous, or funny. In essence, their spouse had a personality which complimented their own. We often think of character traits or personality to be intrinsically woven into a person’s DNA. A person may learn and grow but his or her personality never really changes. If this is the case, then why do so many marriages end in divorce?

Researcher and psychologist Walter Mischel says that everything we thought we knew about the immutability of someone’s personality may be wrong. These revelations about the instability of personality could help explain how two people who started out in love can find themselves so distant from one another after a relatively short period of time.

Mischel's Cognitive-Affective Model

Based on his research, Mischel's findings suggest that an individual's behavior is not dependent on their personality or fundamental character. It is the situation to which a person reacts that causes behavior. Therefore, if the situation changes, so will a person’s behavior. Mischel’s model of personality created quite a bit of controversy when it was first introduced. After all, it is unnerving to consider that our personality or the personality of our loved ones will change.

Why do people seem to have consistent personalities? Psychologist Lee Ross puts it this way, “People are predictable, but they're predictable because we see them in situations where their behavior is constrained by that situation and by the roles they're occupying and the relationship they have with us.”

According to Ross and Mischel, it is when an individual is put into a new, unfamiliar situation that the greatest inconsistency in personality can be seen. This explains why some people change so much after having children, a career change, retirement, or a health problem.

Changes Can Affect a Marriage

Many couples who end their relationship claim that they “grew apart.” According to Mischel’s model, this is an accurate statement. As each spouse reacted to new circumstances and life events, the “new versions” of each person were no longer compatible with one another. It is at this point that individuals in a relationship have a choice. They can either try to work together under the new circumstances to find common ground and work to rebuild their compatibility, or they can call it quits. If divorce is the ultimate answer in such a case, the grounds of “irreconcilable differences” may be appropriately descriptive.

If you and your spouse are experiencing serious problems with your marriage, contact an experienced Lombard divorce attorney to discuss your available options. Our compassionate team will help you make the best decisions for yourself and your family. Call 630-426-0196 for a confidential consultation today.



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