An Undiagnosed Killer of Marriages

Differences in personality types can have a lot of effect on marriages.  I respond to the outer world emotionally first.  My husband responds with logic.  I am an extrovert, so I tend to react openly immediately. My husband is an introvert and he only responds after much thought. When I would get either excited or upset about something and babble over  about it, he would sit back, cross his arms and put on his “here come the judge” face.  After several moments of waiting, I ‘d get frustrated, either disappointed that he didn’t share my enthusiasm or angry because he was looking judgmental.  And unfortunately his first logical problem solving response is to focus on the practical problems or negative aspects.  After some years of marriage, without realizing it, I began to try to push his buttons just to get him to express a feeling of any kind.  The problem with this is the introverted thinker may go years without responding openly to provocation, only to one day reach overload and either explode violently or simply leave and not look back. Fortunately, since we had five young children, I recognized my pattern before my husband reached overload. I have since realized that when asking him for a yes or no decision, I need to give him plenty of unpressured time or he will play it safe and just say “No.”  The same with arguments. I now state my case and go wash dishes or do something else while he works out his response, and then gets back to me.  Unnatural as this is for me, doing this brings much better results and lessens conflict.  I’m pretty sure that it is a total shock to one of the spouses, when marriages disintegrate  from unrecognized inborn differences such as these.



About Eileen

Mother of five, grandmother of nine, great-grandmother of five. 1955 -1959 Rice University in Houston, TX. Taught primary grades; Was Associate Post Director of Religious Education at Ft. Campbell, KY; Consultant on the Myers/Briggs Type Indicator, Was married for 60 years to an Architect in Middle Tennessee.

Posted on December 10, 2016, in conflict resolution differences, disillusionment, Failure, Forgiveness, Judging, Love, marriage, Mental Health, Personality, Personality Differences, relationships, Teaching/Learning Experiences, violence and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. This is a very interesting post. I think that people with basic differences such as introvert vs extrovert etc are not the “be all and end all” in relationships as often these differences balance each other out. Maybe common interest and common world views is more important than individual character and personality differences. If we love someone we hopefully manage to work with that like you have, to devise strategies that help the relationship go smoothly.


  2. The problem is that personality traits influence world views and interests also. Of course, our parents and culture have some effect on those also. In my marriage, my husband and I measured at extremes on all the aspects of personality. So, it has been challenging in a lot of ways. I’m convinced that unless we get stuck for some reason, we develop in a circle until we actually end up very different from who we were for much of our life. It’s a process of becoming whole. We find ourselves on the “other” side of ourselves. I laugh when I realize that my husband is more like the “me” I was most of my life, than I am now! But it makes me more understanding and tolerant and grateful that he put up with some of it all those years. Long ago, I was in a local class called”Center Point” which was Jungian based. There were twelve people with six of them driving from an hour away. When they decided to have their own class so they didn’t have to drive so far, one of the women from a third town said,”Well, if there are only going to be six of us, it’s not worth my driving here.” I thought that was a very strange and rude thing to say. But by the time I got home that night, I realized that I felt the same way. I enjoyed groups of 12 or more much better than one as small as six. That was about 40 years ago. Now, I like groups of six much better than larger groups. (Of course getting hard of hearing might have something to do with it.)
    Our pastor leads a class of us very “mature” women. He told me that he wanted to have more discussion, but every time he asked for discussion we all started talking to the person next to us. I replied, “But Bill, that’s the only person we can hear!” 🙂


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