Great relationships take work. Accept the fact that relationships; whether they be marital, parental, companion or co-worker, are not easy to maintain. In fact, good relationships are hard to keep. However, we must never equate hard with bad. Great relationships are worth fighting for.
Always, when I present the basics of personalities, people are curious about how personalities affect their relationships, usually with their spouse. They want to know if “opposites attract” and what that may mean for their marriage.
I am pleased to be able to share that my husband, Nathan, and I have a fantastic marriage. While we certainly are not perfect people and we have our struggles, we agree that knowing personalities and understanding emotional needs gives us a unique perspective on our relationship. We both have a rich appreciation for the strengths we possess as individuals, which helps us truly love and respect one another. We are a team. I encourage any married person or anyone considering marriage to study personalities.
Here is a brief overview of how relationships work based on personality type.
The “easiest” and most common relationships seem to be when the couple shares some personality space. In other words, you and the person you are in relationship with have one color or square of the personality chart in common, but are not totally alike. Those commonalities in behavior and expectation make the relationship easier because you naturally understand certain things about one another and are likely to have the same reactions to life circumstances. Having your secondary personality color or square differ provides just enough balance to keep the relationship interesting.
The Popular Sanguine Relationship (yellow) – FUN! ADVENTUROUS! SPONTANEOUS! Need I say more? When two sanguines get together, it seems the fountain of fun will never run dry. My brother and his bride are both the popular Sanguine. I wish I would have counted how many people referred to the word “fun” at their wedding. They were both glowing with happiness. Sanguine marriages are exciting and fresh. Both parties are flexible, compromising and forgiving which makes for a happy relationship. As parents, this pair loves to play with their children and relishes in making fun memories. However, as we all know, there are moments in life that are just not exactly fun. When the fun fades, the sanguine relationship is in danger. Sanguines must learn how to deal with the difficult times and the fact that adult responsibilities do exist and must be handled properly. Sometimes, planning is necessary for success and decision-making. Together, this duo must learn how to navigate and overcome adversity. They must learn time management, what it means to commit and how to follow the rules. They must learn how to have fun without money and when other “not-as-fun” people are involved. If you are in a sanguine relationship that is struggling, go have fun together. Act a little crazy and the spark will be rekindled.
The Perfect Melancholy Relationship (blue) – When the melancholy square is the shared space the relationship tends to be well organized and private. Time spent together is well thought out and properly placed on the calendar. As a couple, these two have plans for provision, education and vacation as well as a timely budget or strategies for the budget in place. The home is neat and orderly and bills are always paid on time. As parents, this pair is loving and very protective of their children. They have a difficult time allowing their children to take risks or try things that are unfamiliar. The liabilities of this relationship are high expectations. Unrealistic standards often put a heavy burden on the relationship and it may become difficult for either person to feel perfect enough. It may be tempting to become critical of one another and difficult to forgive and forget when the other person creates a mess. If you are in a melancholy relationship be willing to accept delays, mishaps and changes in the plan. Work together, but be careful not to isolate yourselves from extended family and friends. Take time away from your normal routine to enjoy one another’s company and your common love for the arts or nature, without any rules or expectations.
The Powerful Choleric Relationship (red) – Out of the way! Two cholerics will be working to change the world, or at least their own. This couple is on the move, going places, doing things, seeing people, getting things done…in a word; ACTIVE. This couple will be goal-oriented and productive. “Down time” is spent on the next project and together this team is unstoppable. As parents, cholerics are firm and motivating. They will not tolerate laziness for long and are quick to correct. As a married couple, these two will find themselves competing for control and for one another’s time. Working on any relationship is too easily put off for working on work. Be careful not to become competitive with one another. Focus on supporting and respecting each other’s ideas. Make time to relax. But, realize that most of your bonding will occur as you work side by side and see accomplishments come as a result of your hard teamwork.
The Peaceful Phlegmatic Relationship (green) – Two peaceful phlegmatics simply have it made. They are generally at peace with one another and have a relaxed relationship. They don’t tend to pressure one another to change or do…well…anything. As a couple they are open to whatever. As parents they are very patient with their children, but must work to maintain control over them. Strong-willed children will just take over the home. The reality of life circumstances are often stressful and managing a home, children and careers can easily become overwhelming for this pair. If you are in a peaceful phlegmatic relationship you must work extra hard on communication, planning and setting boundaries. Naturally, conflict is avoided. So, working through problems, making decisions and sticking to a plan are difficult at best. Phlegmatic couples are a great example for the rest of us, though, on how to be accepting, content and satisfied in a relationship.
OPPOSITES ATTRACT – When no commonalities in personality exist.
If the relationship is Powerful Choleric/Perfect Melancholy with Peaceful Phlegmatic/Popular Sanguine, the pair is a nice balance. Some common ground exists because both people are part extrovert and part introvert giving the couple flexibility and a way to connect. Easily, the couple will recognize their differences and have great potential to really appreciate those differences. This is the scenario where one truly compliments the other.
If the relationship is EXTROVERT vs. INTROVERT or Sanguine/Choleric with Melancholy/Phlegmatic, the work begins. This marriage can be very successful and fulfilling, but requires tremendous understanding. Remember, one person is turbo-charged and energized by people, while the other is sucked dry by people and wants to go home. This relationship will take some serious negotiating from both parties.
However, when opposites do attract the couple has a unique opportunity to create a well-rounded lifestyle and relationship that other couples struggle to find.
TOO MUCH ALIKE
Not as common, but occasionally, people of the same personality are drawn to one another, fall in love (basically with them self) and get married. Interestingly, it seems these marriages or lifestyles often require more attention than others because of the lack of balance. And, by nature, two choleric or two melancholy personalities in a close relationship may need the most work of all.
The marriage will tend to have an extreme tilt. For example if two choleric people marry, there will likely be an “abnormal” amount of conflict. In order to tilt the marriage back to a healthy or normal range, practicing good conflict resolution becomes crucial. Usually, one person in this relationship will have to learn to relinquish control to make peace and they begin to look a bit less “choleric.” On the other extreme, in a relationship where both people are peaceful phlegmatic, conflict is completely avoided and lack of communication may become a serious issue. In order for there to be progress in the home, one will be forced to step into the role of planning, making decisions and being more productive than their natural tendencies.
I think in most relationships where both people share a majority of personality traits, one person, for the sake of the relationship and general lifestyle, will step outside of their natural personality and learn to take on new traits to compensate for what is naturally off balance. As a result, some people may even transform into what seems to be a much different person than they were when you married them. The transformation may be just what you hoped for or it may leave you feeling unsure about the person you married. Recognizing why change was required will help you appreciate the way your spouse has adapted to living with you. Remember, change can be a positive thing, but the originalpersonality is still deep within and the corresponding emotional needs still apply.
SINGLE? For those of you who are single, you may wonder, “Do I need a significant other to feel complete and have balance in my life? No. Marriage is not the only relationship. There will be plenty of other people in your life who create that balance you need. A phlegmatic male will find motivation from his choleric mother. A choleric female will be humbled by her boss. Sanguine singles will eventually settle down and seek advice from a grandparent. A melancholy man will learn to relax as his co-workers drag him to office parties. Just living with family, co-workers and friends will make you aware of differences in personality and you will naturally experience the fullness personalities bring to all human relationships. Thankfully, as human beings, we have the intellectual ability to learn, change and take on strengths of other personalities so that we can access our own reserves of hidden potential, single or not.
Anyway, back to the main point for this month…
To summarize, what is important in our relationships: don’t try to change the one you chose. We chose our spouse because there was something about them we couldn’t live without. We loved that “it” factor. The “it” factor, my friends, is probably their personality — who they are and how they are wired. Amazingly, whatever the thing was that drew us to them in the first place is the thing we end up being most annoyed by later. Accept your differences. Appreciate what makes your spouse unique. Work hard at giving them the gift of meeting their emotional needs and your relationships will bring you great joy.
In case you need a refresher, here are the basic emotional needs of each personality:
Sanguine (yellow) : Attention from all, Affection (touching),Approval of every deed, Acceptance “as is”
Melancholy (blue) : Sensitivity to their feelings,Understanding, Space to be alone, Silence (no people)
Choleric (red) : Loyalty, Sense of Control, Appreciation for all their hard work, Accomplishment
Phlegmatic (green) : Peace and quiet, Feelings of Worth,Lack of Stress, Respect for who they are, not what they do