Tolucan Times January 31, 2003
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“The major opportunity and challenge is to learn to capitalize on and celebrate our differences rather than use them as a reason for rejection.” from The Creative Brain by Ned Herrmann, inventor of the hbdi

According to The Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument, “hbdi”, there are four thinking styles that directly relate to our four brain hemispheres. These styles are logical, intuitive, emotional and organized. When you consider how to improve, strengthen, and intensify your relationship this year, have you considered that your differences may be your greatest strength? If one spouse always “remembers the little things” and is very romantic, while one plans the budget down to the last penny, must they argue? If one partner focuses on plans for the future while the other is grounded in the day-to-day details is it not possible to feel grateful for the advantages of two thinking styles in one household?

When you learn about the 4 thinking styles of the hbdi, you will be able to design strategies that will enhance some relationships and may even save others from demise. The hbdi is a simple online assessment that takes about 30 minutes, but the results are extraordinary. Imagine if you were given a tool that explained your spouse and each of your children’s world view and basic self-assessments? With the hbdi, in a non-judgmental format, each family member’s thinking preference is clarified. The next step is to create strategies that work. As we begin to appreciate the benefits of one spouse who enjoys balancing the check book and another spouse who may enjoy the details of childcare the relationship improves dramatically. How often have we considered that our partner is “wrong” based on our differences? When do we stop to treasure one another? Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to say “thank you” for being exactly who you are.

“As we become aware of our own preferred modes of knowing and sensitive to the preferences of others, we greatly enhance our ability to communicate with the people around us.” from The Creative Brain by Ned Herrmann, inventor of the hbdi

Dear Divorce Coach©,

My husband and I speak two different languages. According to him, I speak “touch-feely” and he speaks reality! I there any hope for us?


Cure for the Common Cold Shoulder

Dear Cure,

You are describing one of the most common pairings; a logical spouse who’s thinking preference is upper left brain with one who’s style is emotional, governed by the lower right brain. The first step is to teach you to appreciate the assets and abilities that each of you bring to the marriage. As the French say, “Vive la difference!”


The Divorce Coach©

Dear Divorce Coach©,

My wife and I have been bickering since Day 1. Now that we have two teenagers, it’s like WW III. Is there something we can do?


Different as Night and Day

Dear Different,

Since there are 4 thinking preferences defined in the “hbdi” , I would encourage you to each discover which is yours. Then it is quite simple to develop strategies that will enable the parents and the teenaged children to meet their needs for autonomy, self-expression, growth and safety.


The Divorce Coach©

When I am coaching families, it is extremely helpful to consider the thinking style of each member and to explain the differences that describe individuals who may be primarily logical, intuitive, emotional or organized or a specific combination of these. When parents and children begin to appreciate one another, whether during marriage or after divorce, a new level of connection, communication, respect and trust are possible. In relationships where the spouses are extremely similar, they learn to see the need for strategies to include areas of life that are not their primary consideration. In marriages where spouses are of opposite styles, they can begin to recognize the importance of “covering all the bases” as challenges occur in life. Some relationships may appear as if there is a professional bookkeeper and a professional chef on call but no one to consider the bigger picture and conceptualize the future. In other households, there may be a soccer mom, ready to handle all the planning and details of a 4 busy schedules and a successful business man providing for the financial needs of the family. However, in that scenario if no one works on the intimacy and the emotional connections of the family members and the need for fun and playfulness, this marriage may develop problems.

One cause of infidelity in marriage is what Nonviolent Communication founder Dr. Marshall Rosenberg calls “a tragic solution to having a need met”. Since no one can meet every need for a spouse, lover, friend, employer or child, how can we solve this dilemma? When we understand one another there are innumerable strategies to have all our needs met within monogamy, without resorting to lies and secrecy and to maintain the trust and respect that are the foundation of a solid relationship. However, The first step is always to understand our own needs and those of our partner.

To take the hbdi, for a complete explanation of THE 7 STAGES OF DIVORCE© and for tips on divorce survival and healing please visit

Please send your questions to



Susan Allan COO of The Divorce Forum™