She’s the F to my T
I’ve taken the Myers Briggs personality test several times throughout my life for different reasons, and on multiple occasions, up until I hit my late-twenties, my result was INTJ (Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging). Only very recently did I take the test again during a development class at work and find that something had changed: my last letter. I went from an INTJ to an INTP. Somewhere in the course of my twenties, I started perceiving more than judging. Consistently, Aly and I test exactly opposite. When I tested INTJ, she was a ESFP (Extroverted, Sensing, Feeling, and Perceiving). She has since also changed to an ESFJ…still my exact opposite.
So, what does this mean? I thrive in an environment fueled by logic and not clouded by feelings or emotions or any of that other “fluffy stuff.” Aly, on the other hand, on top of being an ESFJ, is a Cancer, which means that if there is an emotion out there to feel, she will feel it, and she will articulate that feeling better than anyone. This has led, on several occasions, to a conundrum: how can I, as a logical problem-solver, be a supportive partner to her, an emotional feeler of all things, and how can she do the same for me?
Our approach to this problem-solving conundrum: the fix or feel method. For instance, when Aly complains about something in her day, I quickly pose the question “Fix or Feel?” Having her say “fix” allows me to go into my natural state. It’s what I do best. The “feelings,” while out of my comfort zone, result in a lot of “Yeah, that would make me upset too.” Or, “That was so rude. I can’t believe they did that to you!” She suddenly feels understood and I feel like a rock star.
The Emotional Monkey Wrench
I jokingly call her my “emotional monkey wrench,” because when I think I have a problem figured out, and I present her with the solution that seemingly would work perfectly, the emotional monkey wrench gets thrown in and stops the gears from turning for a while until the feelings are resolved. It’s funny how relationships make you adaptable, and now that I’m thinking about it, I wonder how much of my conscious effort to be better at feeling for her, and, subsequently, talking about those feelings, played into my last letter changing.
I had to very consciously make an effort to not approach solely problem-solving with Aly. I had to, when presented with a problem, very literally, take a second to tamp down on my initial reaction, understanding that the moment was about her. I often still fail. Less often now, thankfully, but I do still, now and again.
“And you get emotions, and you get emotions,…” (Oprah voice)
All of this makes me think about how I’ll approach emotionally charged situations with our children. Aly has asked me before, “How are you going to react if our kid/s comes home and says they’re getting bullied?” I proceeded to tell her of all the ways I would engage the administration at the school and ensure that the parents of the bully would be notified and take action. Aly’s next words were, “but what about our child’s feelings? How will we handle those and make sure that they’re ok?” I was at a loss. I responded in the way that I do when I don’t know the answer to a question. I said, “I’ll read a book about how to handle it.” Aly jokes that I think I can find the answer to all problems in books. Perhaps I do. In books I find the known when I come face-to-face with the unknown. They provide me with the possibility of a solution, but it occurs to me now that this approach is akin to trying to piece-meal a manual for child-rearing out of the experiences of others. It’s sounding more and more like a ludicrous approach. So now, where do I turn?
Times, they are a’changin’
I wonder how kids will change our personalities and approaches. I wonder how they’ll change our relationship and our traditions. I’ve always considered us to be so compatible, whether because we are opposites in many ways, or because my passivity is just enough for her necessity to be in control. I often joke with her that together, we make the perfect person because she’s strong where I’m weak and vice versa. I doubt that this will translate into being the perfect parents, but I muse about how we will play off of each other knowing what our strengths and weaknesses are and how our children will receive and perceive it all.