When we enter marriage, we bring along our unique, individual personalities. These personalities, that attracted us to each other, can also cause challenges in the way we communicate and resolve conflict in our marriage.
Our typical approach to our spouse is to assume they share our same personality. If we are detail oriented, we expect our spouse to be detail oriented. We become impatient or irritated when they do not contribute detailed information. If we are spontaneous and like adventure, we become tired of always being the one willing to drop everything for a date night; while our spouse is more interested in staying home to pay the bills or relax on the couch.
Understanding our spouse’s personality can help us better understand when they communicate their feelings or when they respond to us in a way we do not understand. Any personality test can be used. The goal is to understand your personality as well as your spouse’s personality. To know your spouse’s personality so well, you rejoice in their personality traits that differ from you. Rather than allow them to be the source of frustration and conflict.
Years ago I had a job that taught us about different personality types and how to get the best from our co-workers by understanding their individual personalities. It was at that time that I wondered “what would happen if I applied that same knowledge to my marriage?”
My husband is a detail-oriented man. He likes order and to him, things are often black or white. I am more of a high level thinker; details do not often matter to me, and I very much believe in different shades of grey. I especially like coloring outside the lines.
Before I took my husband’s personality into account, I was frustrated by many things. Why did he need to clean the garage and reorganize it? Why did he need a receipt for every purchase I made when the amount was recorded in my checkbook? Why did he insist on arriving to the movie theater 30-45 minutes prior to the movie time? To me those things were unnecessary or a waste of time. I would only reorganize the garage if I had misplaced something, and even then, I would only reorganize to the point I found the missing item. Receipts were clutter I did not need, and I would arrive 10-15 minutes prior to a movie time, unless it was an opening night (then 30 minutes might make since). So who is right? And who is wrong? The answer might surprise you. Both of us are right, because it is how we are individually wired; it is what makes since to us. How wonderful it is that God made different personalities? Can you imagine the chaos if every human being was the same personality? If everyone was like me, we would get a lot done, but the world would look like chaos due to lack of organization, and eventually our mess would stall us. If everyone were like my husband, we would not get as much done but the entire earth would be orderly and clean; our need and desire to keep things orderly and predictable would keep us from making progress in technology, medicine, etc. It is the “marriage” of these differences that make the world work. Hence, it is these differences that make our marriage and home work. The challenge is making it work in harmony instead of conflict.
So how are we to get along day to day, when it is so very easy to irritate one another just by our difference in personality? For me, the answer was choosing to learn my husband’s personality and understand its effect on how he saw the world. I then shared the personality information with him, so that he could possibly do the same. Today, we choose to see our personality differences as things to love. When my husband spends a Saturday afternoon in the spring reorganizing and cleaning the garage, I remind myself that this is something that makes him feel whole, that he would feel “naked” without doing it. When we plan a date night, I ask him what time he would like to arrive at the theater and I honor his request instead of arguing with him that it is a waste of time to arrive so early; this allows Jim to enjoy the dinner before the movie and the movie itself, instead of feeling rushed. My husband has made similar adjustments for me. He lives with the bed unmade, my “to-do” piles on the counter, and the clean laundry piled on the drier instead of put away. (In these situations he is living with the dis-order of things. Another way he could have accommodated my personality, in these situations, would be to make the bed and put away the clean laundry himself; he does do that some times. My “to-do” piles – he knows to leave or more problems would be created.)
Initially these adjustments were difficult, they challenged our core personality. Instead of giving into the natural responses of irritation, frustration, and anger, we choose to proactively accept and love these differences about each other. Doing so is being a Servant Spouse.
There are many types of personality tests and any of them will work great. Here is a link to a free personality test from the Smalley Institute. http://smalley.cc/images/Personality-Test.pdf
- Learn your own personality
- Learn your spouse’s personality
- Identify areas where you can accommodate your spouse’s personality as loving gestures
**Being a Servant Spouse means making the accommodations for your spouse, independent of whether or not they make the same accommodations for you.
Suggested Prayer: Prayer for your Spouse by Melissa B.
Heavenly Father, in the beginning, you yourself instituted the sacrament of marriage. Bless _________ in her/his role as my wife/husband. Grant her/him the grace to persevere in love for me. Help me to be the support she/he needs today and always, so that she/he may see Heaven. May my eyes see her/him as you see her/him and may I look past her/his failings to see her/him as your child and my life partner? May we as a married couple choose you as the foundation of our marital love, and may you strengthen our marriage to withstand all types of suffering. Grant that I may die of myself and trust in your divine plan for our marriage. Help us to be truly one, as you designed. This I pray, in your Holy and Precious name. Amen.
FIND ITEMS THAT INSIRE H.O.P.E. (Hang On Pray Everyday) at www.hopeinabox.com