A note from a blog-reader: You’ve said that many relationships start between opposites because those differences are intriguing. Then after 30 or 40 years of marriage, those differences can be viewed differently. What are your thoughts on making those differences more interesting and intriguing? Are there general concepts that apply to all, or is it specific to each pair of personalities and their unique differences?
It’s very true that what attracts you to someone in the beginning may drive you up the wall later on. Diversity is strength but demands understanding, appreciation, patience and a certain amount of compromise. New relationships often resort to what our granddaughter, Kara, when she was 4, said after a disagreement, “Come on, Daddy, let’s compromise and do it my way.” Compromise is certainly one of the best modes of operation but not Kara’s way. After 30-40-or 65 years as in our case, differences meld into one another as each learns the values of opposite preferences, which naturally neutralizes original intrigue and excitement.
In marriage counseling, based on the MBTI Indicator, I add my personal profiles as well as a Blend of their types. Chapter 9 of How to Get Along with Everyone addresses this probability and ways to adjust. All sixteen Personal Profiles are in my book along with some common opposite combination involving couples, children and other relationships. Also addressed are unique problems faced for those typing out the same.
Can you locate your unique combination from the list of 16 combinations of complete opposites?
Reminder: I-ntrovert/E-xtrovert; S-ensing (facts & figures) /iNtuitive (Ideas & possibilities); F-eeling/T-hinking; J-structured/P-spontaneous. Individuals are given a dose of all of the preferences but prefer one predominantly in every combination. Because of differences in background in parents, siblings, schooling, friends, and opportunities no one is just exactly alike. Not even identical twins. Every person is unique. The most accurate approach regarding guidelines rests on a sliding scale rather than demanding absolutes. Each person is best-qualified to ascertain his/her own temperament; no one should dictate the temperament of another. Even two of the same gender with the exact preferences wear their temperaments differently.
Adjusting to one difference like Introversion-Extroversion requires respect, understanding, appreciation and patience. Same with Sensing with iNtuitives; Feeling with Thinkers; Structure (J) with Spontaneous (P)
Having two differences is the most common. We cannot change anyone’s personality, but we can avoid allowing others’ preferences from overpowering ours and rendering us ineffective. By the same token, we can and should modify any behavior that we sense or learn has come across too strongly.
Just our two differences caused stress at times, like when Head logic (J)- Jim was scratching his head at my illogical Heart-logic (F) stance with “You can’t feel that way”, to which I replied, “I did not ask to be born a Feeler and cannot ignore my feelings”. He smiled with understanding. Learning how to kindly disagree and honestly present where we are coming from requires practice. As we learned to use “I” statements, arguments reversed into healthy discussions often bringing smiles when one would say “I didn’t appreciate your last statement" rather than a formally ‘walk out the door—I’ll be back’ cool-off culmination. Thinkers really do enjoy a good argument and Jim agreed he kinda missed those.
An experienced person of three differences for more than 30 years shares how they have managed.
“I think understanding different personality preferences is very helpful. Early in a relationship, big differences look like strengths to the person who doesn't have that particular characteristic. There is also the interesting aspect of someone's unique differences, when you are enjoying the variety. When a behavior or attitude becomes annoying, or it drags your opinions down as irrelevant as you spend more years together, then it demands patience, respect and the ability to see how you enhance each other's decisions. There's also the need to back off at times to allow the other person to show his/her stuff or strengths.”
Imagine your pair of personalities is ESFJ-INTP. Total Opposites. The Blend highlights how respecting and understanding soften adjustments and potential problems as well as avoid ‘the wheels from coming off’ in 30 or 40 years. Healthy communication is absolutely necessary for retaining original intrigue and excitement.
INTP & ESFJ blend – Think-Tank Expert with Hosts & Hostesses. You’ve proven that opposites indeed attract. Opposites in all four areas may experience some stress in adjusting to one another, but once each knows himself/herself and then understands the other, you will have the benefit of solid strengths from all worlds.
Celebrate Differences Rather than Criticize
INTPs prefer quiet and a lot of privacy, where ESFJs thrive on conversation and can tolerate noise. ESFJs need to re-hash or talk around an incident while INTPs merely mull it over briefly. To sweeten communication, ESFJs need to strive to edit what he/she wants to say to about half and the INTP should endeavor to contribute to the small talk your spouse enjoys. The extroverted mate is wise to encourage and assist the introverted mate in getting at least 30 minutes recuperation time of their choice at the end of the day.
SENSING (S) /INTUITION (N)
ESFJs tend to focus on today—juggling black and white facts and figures and wanting closure. INTPs focus on possibility thinking and challenging goals often making impulsive decisions based on scant facts. ESFJs are not easily bored as long as events fall according to plan and their hands are busy. Conversely, as soon as INTPs learn the object of the game or a task loses its challenge, boredom sets in. Sensing people are comfortable with repetition, maintenance and meeting quotas where dreaming, improvement and maintaining reputation challenges Intuitives. ESFJs can kill Intuitives with facts, but they can be easily confused with Intuitives’ complicated possibility/idea/design/big picture reasoning. INTPs think and speak in circles and can provide tons of strategic ideas where the ESFJs shine with common sense/practical physical facts which are critical for survival. Intuitives need to give their Sensing mate adequate time to assimilate new information which may mean several hours to a day. Intuitives are able to think much faster, but not necessarily always wiser.
Differing in decision-making process—head logic verses heart logic—creates the most discomfort, especially if the female is the Thinker, until each learns to appreciate the value and legitimacy of the other’s preference. The ESFJ is likely to harbor resentment unless he/she learns to express their feelings/opinions to the INTP, who will respect honesty and straightforwardness. Since ESFJs desire approval before making decisions and INTPs expect approval after they have made decisions, the ESFJ will likely feel steam-rolled unless and until they courageously insist on contributing to final decisions. The INTP will foster healthy communication by seeking the ESFJ’s ideas and opinions and using diplomacy in discussing disagreements. The ESFJ must resist taking every statement personally and learn to be brief. ESFJs yearn for approval, peace and harmony; INTPs yearn for trust, respect and decisions to be right.
Feelers usually measure their worth by the quantity of conversation and approval they receive from their mate. Since Thinkers tend to pick up hints with their eardrums and do not read others as accurately as the softhearted Feeler expects, the Feeler must verbalize his/her desires, dislikes and distresses. Silence to Thinkers is approval; silence to Feelers is disapproval. ESFJs are likely to keep disagreements to themselves for fear of disrupting harmony. However, peace at any cost is not healthy for honest communication. Also, a one vote home is unhealthy. The ESFJ is wise to run ideas through the INTP’s mind before making final decisions. The INTP can help the ESFJ avoid being walked on by others. By the same token, the ESFJ can assist the INTP in being more tenderhearted and considerate of feelings and opinions of others.
STRUCTURE (J)/SPONTANIENTY (P)
Preferring opposite lifestyles will bring variety into your lives as well as struggle. Structured (J) people have a tendency to look down on spontaneous (P) people because it is not optional for them that jobs/projects be finished. The ESFJ will need to lighten up and give longer lead times for completion. The INTP will need to learn to choose priorities wisely, placing finishing chores, repairs and promptness high on the priority list. The ESFJ will need to develop patience allowing the INTP to clean up trails; complete chosen chores in the sporadic way he/she enjoys. Each will have to give a little. ESFJs have a tendency to be bossy or give too detailed instructions to spontaneous people who prefer to “wing” a job or responsibility. Improving communication skills with use of adult “I” statements rather than parental “you” statements will prevent the parent/child syndrome from spoiling your relationship.
Satisfying Companionship is possible no matter what types are united. Developing and maintaining good communication skills requires talking, listening, understanding, respect, appreciation and most of all creative compromise—humility in action. Each helping the other to reach his or her goal; each helping the other become the best person he/she can be. Trust and Respect are absolutely necessary. After trust, understanding, appreciation and respect follows an extremely crucial element --T I M E together (without kids). At least one date a week for life. Invest in at least 20 minutes a day for talk to keep abreast of each other’s lives. Companionship resembles a flower garden. Neglect it and resentment will take over. Water, weed, fertilize and care for it and it will be beautiful to those who look on as well as to those who are cultivating it. Relationships, like automobiles and computers, occasionally need re-booting or tune-ups or from an expert.
Our Goal is Not to Think Alike But Together
“There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship communion, or company than a good marriage." - Martin Luther
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails. I Cor. 13:4-8 (NIV)
If you would like a particular blend discussed, even worker and boss, please leave a comment or email me.