Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Marriage Between Opposites

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. I Cor 13: 4-6

When Ron (the beaver) plans our vacation trips, he researches absolutely every possible option of where to stay, so as to not make a mistake in his choice. It makes for a great vacation, but the process of his being on the computer for days on end, and my having to look at each choice with him, when I (a lion) want to just make a decision, can lead to conflict (next section). It helps me to remember that Ron needs to go through this process; I can then appreciate him for all the time and effort he puts into it and recognize how much that side of him adds to our family.
–Patti Francis, M.D.

An important aspect of enjoying marriage to its fullest is understanding your spouse’s personality type and yours! You have heard “opposites attract,” but once you are married, they can repel like bug spray! Be honest. Certain things you initially loved about your spouse really bug you now. But step back and take another look. Understand that people of different personalities see life differently.

There are many personality tests out there but we enjoy the one Gary Smalley has worked out in his book The Two Sides of Love. Most people have a primary and secondary personality profile and these will fall into four general types. Gary Smalley uses animals, presenting great word pictures anyone can understand.

Lions are dominant types, confident and decisive, good at getting things done. They are very result oriented. Stubbornness and big egos are their weaknesses. Status and power meet their needs; they fear losing control and looking bad. They struggle with trusting God and letting him control things. Lions are good leaders and you always need one in any group setting to help get things decided and accomplished. The apostle Paul probably was a lion, as are many doctors.

Beavers are analytical perfectionists who are very logical and precise. Beavers will make sure you do it right! They are the ones who are most organized. But they can have trouble overanalyzing situations and struggle with decision making. To admit they are wrong is beyond comprehension! Failure destroys them. Grace is something they need to experience and hand out more freely. If you want order out of chaos, give the problem to a beaver.

Otters are optimists and motivators– the planners and life of the party! Their conversation is articulate and gregarious. They can be very emotional and reactive. Sometimes they talk a bit too much and worry about acceptance and recognition. Rejection destroys them. Being too impulsive can interfere with their waiting on God. But if you want motivation and some fun, an otter can make it happen! The biblical characters Peter and Barnabas were otters.

Golden Retrievers are what every friend wants. They are loyal, steady, sensitive and patient. Compliance makes them easy and agreeable. Job security and stability is important. Change is disastrous. Conflict sends them running or withdrawing. They aim to please and are always seeking others’ approval even though God’s approval is a better place to invest their energies. If you want to keep the peace and have a loyal fan, marry a golden retriever.

Physicians and dentists tend to be lions or beavers. They need these strengths to get through school and residency! But they tend to marry otters or golden retrievers. The positive sides of such blends can greatly complement each other. But when their excesses or struggles surface, watch out! It is in understanding our spouse’s personality type that we can better love them for who they are and not resent them for who they are not.

Dear God,
Thank you so much for my spouse and the ways that he/she is different from me. Together we are whole. Help us take the time to understand each other, even if it takes time. Help me to seek his/her fulfillment, even when it conflicts with my own; for only together in Your will can we find true fulfillment. Amen

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