Life would be a lot easier if we all saw the world through the same eyes… but we don’t, and understanding this simple truth will lead to a much happier life… allow me to explain.
My wife and I are two different personalities, we have a lot of similarities and crossovers in traits, but on the whole we are two different types of people.
I’m a socialite, a risk taker, adrenaline seeker, I like thought provoking movies with a twist, the thought of a ‘relaxing’ holiday kills me… where can I bungee jump?
On the other hand my dear wife is a lot more private than I am, is naturally quite risk averse, self disciplined, her favourite film is a comedy, and would probably need to be handcuffed and sedated before attempting a bungee jump!
There are a number of factors that determine how we behave, and why we think the way we do, I will be using the next few posts to address these. This post is focusing on our temperament.
This is defined as:
- an individual’s character, disposition, and tendencies as revealed in his/her reactions
- the characteristic way an individual behaves, especially towards other people
The earlier examples I gave are trivial, however, our temperaments and their implications on how we handle life and relate with each other should not be under estimated, and they need to be understood – especially in marriage.
Knowing you and your partners temperament will help you to accept and flow with your marriage partner, and accept them for who they are.
There are four temperament types and most of us are a mixture of two or three, but there is often a dominant temperament that tends to come out on top. You are created by God with certain tendencies, natural strengths and weaknesses.
I’d recommend scanning the internet and finding a website that contains an online test. Do this, it will help you to know what your dominant trait is, also, get a friend/ partner to do it on your behalf as well. Sometimes how we see ourselves and how the world views us are very different.
The sanguine temperament is fundamentally sociable and pleasure-seeking; sanguine people are impulsive and charismatic. They tend to enjoy social gatherings, making new friends and tend to be boisterous. They are usually quite creative and often daydream. Sanguine personalities generally struggle with following tasks all the way through, are chronically late, and tend to be forgetful and sometimes a little sarcastic. Often, when they pursue a new hobby, they lose interest as soon as it ceases to be engaging or fun. They are very much people persons. They are talkative and not shy. Sanguines generally have an almost shameless nature, certain that what they are doing is right. They have no lack of confidence. Sanguine people are warm-hearted, pleasant, lively and optimistic.
The choleric temperament is fundamentally ambitious and leader-like. They have a lot of aggression, energy, and/or passion, and try to instil that in others. They are task oriented people and are focused on getting a job done efficiently; their motto is usually “do it now.” They can dominate people of other temperaments with their strong wills, especially phlegmatic types, and can become dictatorial or tyrannical. Many great charismatic military and political figures were cholerics. They like to be in charge of everything and are good at planning, as they can often immediately see a practical solution to a problem. However, they can quickly fall into deep depression or moodiness when failures or setbacks befall them.
The melancholic temperament is fundamentally introverted and is given to thought. Melancholic people are often perceived as very (or overly) pondering and are both considerate and very cautious. Melancholics can be highly creative in activities such as poetry, art, and invention – and are sensitive to others. Because of this sensitivity and their thoughtfulness they can become preoccupied with the tragedy and cruelty in the world and are susceptible to depression and moodiness. Often they are perfectionists. Their desire for perfection often results in a high degree of personal excellence but also causes them to be highly conscientious and difficult to relate to because others often cannot please them. They are self-reliant and independent, preferring to do things themselves to meet their standards. One negative part of being a melancholic is that they can get so involved in what they are doing they forget to think of other issues. Their caution enables them to prevent problems that the more impulsive sanguine runs into, but can also cause them to procrastinate and remain in the planning stage of a project for very long periods. Melancholics prefer to avoid much attention and prefer to remain in the background; they do, however, desire recognition for their many works of creativity.
The phlegmatic temperament is fundamentally relaxed and quiet, ranging from warmly attentive to lazily sluggish. Phlegmatics tend to be content with themselves and are kind. Phlegmatics are consistent; they can be relied upon to be steady and faithful friends. They are accepting and affectionate, making friends easily. They tend to be good diplomats because their tendency not to judge and affable nature makes reconciling differing groups easy for them. Phlegmatics prefer to observe and to think on the world around them while not getting involved. They may try to inspire others to do the things which they themselves think about doing. They may be shy and often prefer stability to uncertainty and change. Their fear of change (and of work) can make them susceptible to stagnation or laziness, or even stubbornness. They are consistent, relaxed, calm, rational, curious, and observant, qualities that make them good administrators. They can also be passive-aggressive.
Once you find out what temperament you are and what temperament your partner is – certain behaviours will start to make sense. You can also start to explore the specific weaknesses and strengths associated with the temperaments.
Most importantly, use it to understand your partner, and see the world through their eyes. There are no magic glasses that will enable you to do this (unfortunately), so study and learn each other, it is worth the effort. Understanding my wife has enabled me to relate with her how she needs to be related to (well, better than when we first met anyway – I’m sure she’d say I still have some way to go). It’s a continual journey, and despite meeting her five years ago I am still learning… daily.
In marriage the bar is always moving – I remember it being likened to a pole vaulter running towards the bar only to see it changing as he gets closer… such is marriage, as soon as you think you’ve cracked the code… it changes! All part of the fun, and keeps you on your toes.
1 Peter 3:7 – ‘Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge…’
There is an excellent book by Tim Lahaye entitled ‘Why You Act The Way You Do’, there is also an excellent book by Dag Heward Mills entitled ‘Model Marriage’ which goes deep into the strengths and weaknesses of all these personality types in reference to marriage.
“God grant me the courage to change the things I can change; the serenity to accept the things I cannot change and the wisdom to know the difference” St Francis Xavier