Do you and your spouse seem to be opposites? In an earlier post, we talked about learning to see your differences as a gift instead of a curse. Because personality differences in a marriage means you both have different strengths to offer in the marriage. Recognizing this can be extremely useful when considering what you may think is incompatibility.
Another way to help handle your differences is to understand your respective personalities better. There are many personality and energy type systems out there and these can be really useful in defining your differences, and also in understanding yourself better.
Myers-Briggs Personality System
One popular system is the popular Myers-Briggs personality system. According to this paradigm, we all have four components of our personality. The four functions of our temperament are the following:
- Our preference for being alone, or in groups. Some of us are drained by too much social interaction and others of us are drained by too much time alone. Most of us are a combination of both, but have a preference to one or the other.
- How we manage our time. As humans, we differ in time management styles. Some of us are more flexible with our time, while other people are other prefer are very deadline-oriented.
- How we gather information about the world: Some people tend to gather information with their five senses, while others are more strongly oriented towards using their intuition.
- How we make decisions: This function is concerning our difference in how we make decisions. Some of us tend towards making choices more from an impersonal, logical viewpoint, while other people are more apt to see individual circumstances and cases.
Now, remember none of these preferences are right or wrong. We need all the types in order to run the world! But a difference in personality can really make it hard to understand each other in a marriage, and mean that we have a different way of approaching life. As mentioned in a previous post, however, these differences can also become our greatest strength as a couple.
How Personality Differences Can Affect A Marriage
Now, we look at how these personality differences can affect a marriage. Let’s look at the difference in how much time we like to spend with other people. If one spouse has a stronger preference for social interaction, there can be a lot of disagreement about how many social engagements to take on.
One spouse may be worn out by the end of the week, while the other is just yearning to get out and meet friends. The social one may get bored staying at home too much and resent married life, while the other one is delighted to have someone to hang out and do “quiet time.”
Next, consider the differences in how we manage our time. One partner may be frustrated with their spouse when she takes forever to get something done, and changes her mind constantly. He may feel this slows them down as a couple, and is inefficient. She may feel pushed to do things at a pace that is not comfortable for her.
Thirdly, consider how we perceive the world. Someone who looks at life in a practical way, based on their five senses only, may feel that a spouse who talks in abstract ways is wasting time and not getting to the point. On the other hand, the more intuitive person in the relationship can that their partner is too mundane and uninspiring.
And lastly, spouses can have differences in how they make decisions. A wife who makes child-rearing decisions based on what she believes to be logical clear-cut principles may frustrate a husband who sees his child as an exception to the cold principles his wife is espousing.
One very useful tip for handling personality differences is to remember that neither one is wrong, and try to understand the differences between you, so that you can believe the other person actually does have good intentions, even if it doesn’t seem like it to you.
To take a Myers-Briggs test and see the explanations, check out this site, or simply google “Myers-Briggs” test.