Saturday, May 22, 2010


Have you ever taken a Meyer-Briggs personality test? After you take said test, you're given four letters to sum up how life's experiences and genetics shaped your personality. There are two options for each of the four descriptors:

(I) Introversion or (E) Extroversion
(S) Sensing or (N) Intuition
(T) Thinking or (F) Feeling
(J) Judging or (P) Perceiving

Sixteen possibilities emerge.

I am a INFJ and B is, depending on the day, an INFJ or an ENFJ. For men, INFJ is the rarest of personality types with something like 1-3% of the population falling into this category. For women, INFJ is also rare, but not the rarest. When you're talking about precious metals, rare is good. When you're talking about personality types, rare is not necessarily gold.

INFJs are described as complex, scheduled, methodical, systematic, abstract, reflective, quiet. Some words that do not describe INFJs are casual, spontaneous, practical, gregarious, enthusiastic. In other words, INFJs make great students but might have difficulty at a party.

Reflecting on my life, I've experienced this personality label to be true. During summer camp my adjective name was "Methodical Mike." I've journaled previously (not here) that I want a job where I can work one on one with individuals. Lord knows I tend to be quiet in a group, and people have always described me as calm and even keel.

But my co-workers also suggest--> complain that I am too rigid, and need to be more flexible. And since I'm not gregarious, I don't always communicate my need for a schedule or routine. When my expectations aren't met, frustrations follows. But if I had communicated those expectations up front, I might have been prepared for the disturbance...

Now imagine there are two people like this, living together in holy matrimony, trying to resolve deep, personal, and sensitive issues. At least on my end, I know I occasionally leave expectations implicit, I leave appreciation unsaid or under-expressed, and I shy away from group situations (which by attending and honestly expressing our situation in life could lead to normalization of our feelings). Remember when I said that INFJs are complex ...

Moving in together was difficult, and sometimes when things get difficult I freak out and think our life is doomed and our children won't get into a good college and our dog will never stop barking and biting our friends... But it doesn't occur to me to get to the work of acting on a problem by doing something loving or helpful for my partner. Re-discovering my personality archetype validates why marriage has been, at times, challenging. And why I need to be conscientious and deliberate in taking actions to make it work better.

Because S loves B, and B loves S.

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