How Does Your Personality Type Factor into Your Marriage?

It was no secret when Jed married Kara, the two were very different people. In fact, some called them opposites. Jed was an extremely extroverted singer who loved performing on stage, and Kara was an introverted freelance writer. Many of their opposing traits complemented the other—with his strengths and her strengths working together, it seemed like life was full of possibilities.

But sometimes, Jed had a hard time understanding Kara, and vice-versa. When Kara was upset or frustrated, she would find a quiet place to be alone, but Jed would keep trying to join her. He simply wanted to cheer her up, but he didn’t realize that the best way for Kara to get over her frustration was to be on her own for a little while.

On the other hand, Jed constantly tried to get Kara to go out with him—pretty much anywhere. The theatre, to a friend’s house, or to mini golf. He thrived on being around other people, so when Kara kept declining, he just couldn’t understand why she would prefer to stay at home. It was a big source of conflict.

Personality Tests can Help

It wasn’t until they both took the MBTI personality tests that they realized just how different they actually were. Jed, an ESFP, and Kara, an INFJ, are opposites in every area except for Feeling. Despite this, they both loved and appreciated each other, and especially loved learning more about one another. In the end, taking the personality test helped them give each other more allowances. Kara, for instance, made a deal with Jed that they would go out at least once a week, and he got to choose where. And, Jed would always give Kara alone time when she needed it.

In marriage, while our personalities may differ slightly or a lot, our different traits can complement each other at times, while causing conflict during other moments. The trick is to learn more about each other in order to realize where each person is coming from.

Possible Conflicts in the Four Main Areas

While being different from our spouse isn’t a bad thing, conflict can arrise if we don’t understand where the other person is coming from. Within the four areas of the MBTI personality test, here are possible conflicts that may arise when couples have opposing traits (let’s use the Jed and Kara example):

  • Introvert vs. Extrovert. As we see with Jed and Kara, one likes being social and the other doesn’t. The obvious conflict comes when he wants to be out with people and she wants to be home alone. If the extroverted Jed goes out without Kara, both may feel bad that they aren’t supporting one another.
  • Sensing-Intuiting. Jed is Sensing and focuses on details, like each little thing that may be wrong in the house, while Kara is Intuiting and prefers to see the overall picture of the house’s unique charm. He can’t believe she doesn’t notice the peeling paint, while she thinks he is too nitpicky.
  • Thinking/Feeling. In this case, Jed and Kara are both Feeling, which means they both have the desire to understand and empathize with each other. This has been quite helpful in their marriage. Thinking people typically analyze and find solutions, which can result in the Feeling person to feel upset because they didn’t want a solution—they just wanted empathy and understanding.
  • Judging/Perceiving. Kara is Judging, which means she loves structure. This is part of the reason she is so successful as a freelancer—she sets her own hours and has complete control over her workload. When she shops, she is in and out quickly, as she can make decisions fast. Meanwhile, Jed is Perceiving, which means he likes to spend more time thinking things through. He wants to gather every bit of information and sometimes takes a while to make a decision, even taking twice as long to shop. To Kara, he is slow and can’t make decisions. To Jed, she jumps the gun.

Better Understanding Equals Better Communication

Why do people take personality tests, anyway? Generally, it’s to understand themselves better. Though we are all individuals, and each person may vary from whatever personality category they are placed in, it is helpful to learn more about our views and way of thinking.

Before she knew she was an INFJ, Kara viewed herself as complicated and unfeeling. Intuitively, she realized that she had skills others didn’t, but she couldn’t put her finger on it. Her husband, Jed, was amazed that she could read people so well just by observing. When she took the test and read about classic INFJ traits, she came to realize she was unique and also valuable. She also knew why writing attracted her so much. The test results also helped Jed understand her better, which in turn helped them communicate and compromise more effectively.

In a study about marriage satisfaction and personality types, Nancy S. Marioles and her team at St. Mary’s University had over 400 married and pre-married couples take the Myers-Briggs test and then followed them for seven years.

In general, the study found that couples were happiest when they could communicate effectively and calmly, and also share interests together. Married couples are more likely to communicate effectively and calmly when they understand each other better. That is where a personality test can be a great tool. As we realize the unique traits our significant other possesses, we can better understand how they view the world.

How Each Personality Type Shows Love

Each personality type not only views life differently, but they view love differently as well. If you’ve been married for any length of time, you may already realize this. He shows love by giving his wife a foot rub. She shows love by doing little chores he hates. Neither of them actually “say” I love you with words, but their actions are saying it loud and clear.

But since personalities between spouses are often different, we may be missing the things our significant other does to show their love. In fact, we may even interpret their actions as intrusive, distant, or even self-absorbed. It’s all a matter of perspective.

Here is how each personality type shows love, according to PersonalityHacker.com:

ENFJ, INFJ, ESFJ, ISFJ

  • Meets spouse’s needs first.
  • Will “check in” throughout the day.
  • Is positive in order to keep spouse happier.
  • Offers thanks in ways they like to be shown thanks.

ENFP, INFP, ESFP, ISFP

  • Is patient with spouse.
  • Respects spouse’s unique identity.
  • Gives spouse space/alone time.
  • Offers strong loyalty.

ENTJ, INTJ, ESTJ, ISTJ

  • Always loyal.
  • Ventures to understand spouse.
  • Beams with pride over spouse.
  • Offers protection.

ENTP, INTP, ESTP, ISTP

  • Offers honesty.
  • Sets the bar high and reaches for it.
  • Protects spouse.
  • Offers no judgment, no matter what.

Marriage between two people is an amazing and complicated prospect. Each person is different, and no where do those differences present themselves more acutely than those who live together and love each other. Our personality types can be a source of conflict with those we love, but with better understanding we can  communicate and love each other a whole lot better.

Malini Bhatia

Malini Bhatia is the founder of Marriage.com, a website dedicated to value in every marriage. Marriage.com provides resources, information and a community that supports healthy, happy marriages. Malini has global experience in international management and communications, and lives in Los Angeles with her husband of 11 years and two daughters.

Comments

Guest (not verified) says...

love this article.Some arguments I have had would never have come up if I wasnt so keen on analysing issues and providing precise solutions

ExistentialJeny (not verified) says...

Very cool article, well done! :)

Share your thoughts

Truity up to date