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Do you wonder why you like things neat and orderly and your spouse doesn’t? Or, why you like to be alone with your spouse on Friday night, but your spouse likes to spend it with friends? Or, why you’d like to make the decision right now, but your spouse wants to wait until after Christmas?
Do you find yourself butting heads with your spouse about the same basic issues?
Well, that’s where Cindy and I were 18 months into our marriage. Then, one day, the light bulb went off. We had been reading a book called Personality Plus by Florence Littauer and we experienced our first “AH-HA” moment. On a drive from Maryland to Massachusetts, we figured it out — our differing personalities were to blame.
Could it be that your personality differences are to blame as well?
Some writers suggest there are four different personality types. The spouse leans either to take charge & control (Choleric), order and perfectionism (Melancholy), fun-loving (Sanguine), or peace-loving (Phlegmatic). No personality type is “perfect” ~ they each have their own positive and negative traits.
Related to marriage, one interesting fact is that OPPOSITES DO ATTRACT! In giving personality tests to hundreds of couples, I have only found 5 couples who both scored the same personality type.
And there is a good reason why we are attracted to opposites. Each of us intuitively knows our strengths and weaknesses. We may not be able to verbalize them, but we know them. As a result, we tend to marry people who are “strong” in an area where we are “weak”.
However, once you get married, it can become a challenge to mesh the two personality types into a workable union. For example, the “spender” marries a “budgeter” (because the spender knows they need one!), but then they feel restricted by the budget; the “laid-back” spouse marries someone who likes to be “on the go”, but then resents the fast pace; the one who likes to “work” marries someone who likes to “play”, but then has problems with all the “playing” that is being requested.
The key to making different personalities work well is to understand what your personality types are. Then, you can better understand why your spouse does what they do. Once you understand why they are doing it, you will see the situation in a different light and can then develop a plan to overcome the irritations.
For the first 18 months, I thought Cindy meant to make my life miserable by always having to make the decisions. Then, I realized that this was part of her personality – that God wired her to make quick, good decisions (a good balance to my slow-paced decision making). Once I understood that, I saw Cindy’s strong “take-charge” personality as a strength (the “AH-HA” moment). And, once I did that, we became much more of a “team” and I felt less stepped upon.
Maybe your relationship needs a little more “team”. If so, look at two websites that highlight Littauer’s work. At the first website (click here), you answer 42 questions on-line. Then, you receive a print-out of where you score on the four personality types (you can even take the test to see what personality type you think your spouse is). When you are finished, note the results. Then, go to the second website (click here), which explains the personality types (scroll down until you see the explanations). Or, if you want a really good laugh, buy the book – Personality Plus for Couples.
So you think your differences are bad? Florence tells the story of how, before they wrote the book, her husband requested that she fold bathroom towels symmetrically and place them in the closet in DESCENDING COLOR ORDER. Florence went on to say that she told her husband that not only didn’t she care if the towels were in descending color order, she could care less if the towels WERE EVEN IN THE CLOSET!
I think they wrote the book to save their own marriage – and, it may even help yours. I know it did ours.
Finally, if you need help to decipher what your scores mean, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I can send you 5 thoughts on what your personalities mean together for you and your spouse and some steps you and your spouse can take to make your specific match more dynamic.
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