I hear versions of this one a lot in my Houston marriage counseling sessions: “All he does is get mad and yell!” “Whenever I try to talk to her, she retreats and doesn’t want to deal with me.”

It’s quite common for two people in a relationship to approach conflict from completely different perspectives. While one is all volume and bluster, the other would prefer a quiet conversation, or even to simply figure out how to solve the problem on their own.

We call these two personality types the Tiger and the Turtle, and they can cause you and your spouse to fall into a pattern of approach and retreat whenever there’s a conflict, which can lead to relationship problems.

Houston Marriage Counseling: Tiger or Turtle?

So, which animal describes you, and which one seems like your spouse? Most people have aspects of both animals in their personality but, in general, the following characteristics are common for each.


You want a big discussion and tend to be loud and forceful about your opinions, often enhancing what you’re saying by gesturing. You need your partner to engage with you and to work things through together. If they won’t do that, it just becomes more frustrating to you and you become more forceful.


You don’t need grand speeches and fights about every little thing. When something bothers you, most of the time you can work it out for yourself without causing a scene, and you’re not interested in engaging with someone when they’re emotional—you just want it to end. You retreat during arguments but if pushed too far you can snap back in a big way.

Houston Marriage Counseling: Knowing Your Type Can Help You Work Through It

Couples who recognize whether they are tigers or turtles can use that information to try to meet their partner halfway. This can help to curb relationship problems caused by frustration at having to deal with someone who just doesn’t think like you. It’s not easy though, and if you feel like you need professional advice, Houston marriage counseling can help.