Thursday, August 12, 2010

What Are The Odds?

Personality Type & Family Relationships

Were the two of you meant to be together? Did your 4-letter preferences influence your attraction to each other or was this God’s plan from the beginning? How about BOTH! Reflecting back on Proverbs 22:6, if God wired us each with our own “bent” and that bent can be defined through the language of personality Type, that God may have designed you with your Type with the express purpose of drawing you to your spouse’s Type.

Now, the MBTI can’t (and shouldn’t) be used to select the “right” spouse (or dismiss a potential mate). There are no magical combinations that make the perfect couple and no horrible combinations that are destined for divorce.

It is interesting, however, that research can show us patterns of choices that people tend to make for their spouse. It doesn’t make one set of choices better or worse, just more or less common.

We often here that opposites attract, but research would support that, if anything, similarity attracts more than difference. The most common Type combinations between husband and wife are with 2 or 3 letters in common.

Looking deeper, people tend to choose partners who are more similar in their functions (S/N and T/F) and primarily the perceiving function (S/N). Where the “opposites attract” is more likely to play a role are in the attitudes (I/E and J/P). Ironically, it’s in the attitude areas that cause the most conflict when they are opposites, especially the outer-world orientation (J/P).

Are there certain Types that may have an easier time understanding each other and communicating? Perhaps. Are there certain Types that are more prone to conflict and misunderstanding? Probably. But rather than focusing on those differences as opportunities for conflict, perhaps focus on what God wants you to gain from this pairing of Types. Did He bring a Judger together with a Perceiver to help one learn to relax and go with the flow more while teaching the other to be more direct and organized? Or perhaps the different combinations are simply the gift of "heavenly sandpaper" and they were sent to refine you (or you, them).

Sixteen Ways

There are 16 different Types that each husband and wife could be, creating 136 possible combinations. Just as each Type is unique, each of the different combinations has unique attributes, benefits and challenges that are consistently observed in that Type-union.

Two of the best resources for couples looking to explore Type more deeply as a tool in their marital toolkit are Just Your Type by Paul D. Tieger & Barbara Barron-Tieger, and 16 Ways to Love Your Lover by husband & wife team Otto Kroeger & Janet M. Thuesen.

Just Your Type gives a specific breakdown of each of the 136 combinations, identifying the joys, the frustrations, and specific type-to-type tips to reaching your partner. Many of the type-to-type descriptions are quite applicable to other family relationships like parent to child and between siblings.

16 Ways to Love Your Lover approaches Type and marriage in a more organic way covering how Type plays a role in the different aspects of marriage such as communication, sex and intimacy, finances, and conflict. This is light and informative read that will have you chuckling out loud and reading passages to your spouse.

For more information on the MBTI, visit the Myers-Briggs (MBTI) Resource Central.

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