According to Myers-Briggs personality assessments, I am an ESFP, whereas my beloved is an INTJ. Which means, we are about as opposite as two personality types can be (underscoring the familiar saying “opposites attract”). By the way, we did not have to take a personality test to discover this about ourselves…after a few dates, it was pretty obvious. ESFP stands for extraversion, sensing, feeling and perception, the single word used to describe this personality type is “Entertainer”. INTJ stands for introversion, intuition, thinking, judgement – Myers-Briggs gives this personality type the title of “Scientist”. When we met, Kev was playing around with test tubes working on his degree in Chemistry while I was playing the piano and singing, working on my degree in Music (in addition to performing on stage on a regular basis in a touring opera company.) Scary..isn’t it?
In addition to our polar opposite genetics, we came from drastically different family environments. My husband was raised by parents whose style of parenting tended to be controlling, subsequently, he often felt that perfection was demanded of him. This left my husband with very low self-esteem as a young adult. On the other hand, I was raised by my divorced mother, who I’m pretty sure didn’t have the word “structure” in her vocabulary. My mother also struggled with bipolar disorder her entire adulthood and my father (who I only lived with for half of my Junior year in high school) was a functioning alcoholic. In spite of her own inner turmoil, my mother worked hard to instill a strong sense of self and taught me to be an independent thinker. The result? My husband came into the marriage “compelled to control”, and even though it took me several years to discover it…because of my unstable childhood, I was compelled to accommodate and enable him. Fortunately, Kev’s desire to control was overwhelmingly dwarfed by his overriding desire to change, grow and have a loving, thriving relationship.
I laugh to myself when I think back at how many times he said, “you have to tell me when I’m being an ass…I’m a selfish pig-man, I need your help…etc.” As funny as that statement was, it didn’t change the fact that I had to work very hard at learning how to “speak up” in the moment when I felt offended, as opposed to my habit of burying it deeply, only to have it erupt later with very little provocation. Through the years, and after hours and hours of sometimes tear-filled discussions, we both evolved and learned how to interact with one another knowing each other’s expectations and areas of hyper-sensitivity. Funny how it is that such shallow tears always seem to lead to deeper waters.
The intriguing thing is, amidst all of our opposite personality characteristics, we have always shared so many similar interests. We have virtually the same sense of humor (Airplane, Austin Powers, Seinfeld, Modern Family at the top of our entertainment humor list), we both love sports, enjoy jigsaw puzzles and playing board games – and as of late – Texas Hold-em. Spiritually we have always been on the same page, which ultimately, I believe has been the glue that has held us together through thick and thin.
So, after all these years of navigating the turbulent waters of life together, this ESFP and my sweet INTJ, have morphed into something altogether different from the narrowly defined “Entertainer” and “Scientist”. In fact, if we both sat down and took the Myers-Briggs personality assessment today, I’m pretty sure the outcome would be totally different. I know he has helped me become a much more intuitive and thinking person, and he definitely attributes his noticeable change in social skills to hanging out with me.
No doubt opposites do attract, but as I have discovered, it is truly the areas you enjoy together that will help your relationship stand the test of time.