I Wish I Knew…12

…Personality profoundly influences behavior

This is the last chapter of “Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married” by Gary Chapman. And while I know personality affects behavior…I didn’t know how it would come out in my marriage. I didn’t completely know Skywalker before we got married. Who really ever does though right? I’ve heard it said that getting married itself changes you as a person, and you continually change through time, so it’s impossible to fully know your spouse. Some people use this as an excuse to end a relationship. “I feel like I don’t know him anymore” or “She’s no longer the person I married”. I think those are selfish and lame excuses…granted some changes in people become very harmful (i.e. addictions, abuse) and separation is waranted…but believing someone will never change or that you know someone 100% is a little naive.

Skywalker first entered my consciousness four months before we started dating. (Though interestingly our social circles have been overlapping for 10+ years). We dated 8.5 months before getting engaged. We were engaged for another 9 months before getting married. Can I say I completely know Skywalker? No. Do I need to completely know him before deciding to marry him? No. Am I aware that I’ll be discovering a lot of things about him/me/us along the way? Absolutely. It’s why we wrote into our wedding vows to “love who you are. And love who you’ll become.” That’s actually something I’m looking forward to! It’ll take work. It’ll take effort. It’ll take a little unraveling of myself (and him). But changing together is something that will weave our marriage tighter.

The book brings up these personality pairings:

  • Half full or Half empty :: The classic optimist/pessimist pair with the optimist more willing to take risks and the pessimist being more cautious. I’m more of an optimist compared to Skywalker.
  • Neatniks and Slobs :: Pretty self explanitory. If the “slob” can’t do something exactly the way the “neatnik” wants it, then either the Neatnik takes care of that item from now on, or accepts how the Slob takes care of it. Thankfully, we’re both pretty neat.
  • Dead Sea and Babbling Brook :: This is the observer, who takes everything in and divulges little, compared to someone who’s compelled to speak everything they see, hear or think. I think I babble a little more than Skywalker…but neither of us are super talkative.
  • Pointer and Painter :: One gets straight to the point and tells you only what’s necessary and the other describes the complete picture…with all the detail and context you could possibly want to hear about. We’re a little of both…and in slightly different ways. For example, I give brief instructions but will paint how I’m feeling. Skywalker gives detailed instructions but is brief about his emotions.
  • Passives and Aggressives :: Passives wait for things to happen, aggressives make it happen. I think we’re also a little of both in that some things we’re passive on and other things we’re aggressive on. Sometimes when I want to make something happen is exactly the time Skywalker wants to wait on it. And vice versa.
  • Professors and Dancers :: This is talking about the logic versus intuitive minds. Skywalker’s definitely all logic. I’m a bit of both.
  • The Organizer and The Free Spirit :: Lastly, this describes the scheduled/organized verus the spontaneous. We’re a little of both, but again, in different areas…just to keep us on our toes.

Often opposites attract each other. It seems to balance out great at the beginning when everything is tempered by the euphoric “in love” feeling. “I love her spontenaity!” “He’s such a good listener!” But when the daily grind of life together in marriage carries on, you may find your spouse’ personality restrictive. Or dull. Or irresponsible. Etc.

We’re learning that at the end of the day, you are who you are and your spouse is who s/he is. Marriage isn’t about YOUR comfort and happiness as much as it isn’t about HIS/HER’s comfort and happiness….it’s about finding unity as ONE couple. We need to respect and empathize with each other’s comfort zones. Love never demands the other person to “do it my way”. Loving someone means doing what you can to find out how you can accomodate the other person better. Loving someone also means to graciously accept what can’t be changed.

Love each other. Love who you each become.

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