I met my future husband in a journalism class during our junior year of college. In a natural forward progression, we dated, graduated, and got jobs at the same television station.
Our careers were in sync. We had the same friends. Our life was snapping together in a way that felt surprisingly easy, as if a divine hand was guiding the whole thing. On Shawn’s 25th birthday, he made a wish, blew out the candles, and asked me to be his wife.
During our required premarital counseling sessions, the preacher made us take personality tests. Imagine my surprise when he saw the results, laughed a good-natured laugh, and said something like, “Good luck.”
He said we weren’t doomed (um, thanks?) but because of our personality types, he warned us that we were guaranteed to clash. “You’re going to have to be clear with each other about who does what. Who does the laundry? Who pays the bills? Who takes out the trash? And when you’re searching for your first house,” he said, “Angie, you’ll look for ambience. Shawn will kick the baseboards.”
He also suggested that we pray.
Not wavering in our commitment, Shawn and I said “I do” inside a downtown Charleston church and rode to the reception in a horse-drawn carriage. It was like a carefully planned scene from a fairy tale. But 15 years later, I look back and realize that the preacher had given us the true, real-life picture of happily ever after.
I’m an ENFP. The Campaigner. My husband is an ESTJ. The Executive. Our personalities indeed collide, and often. He’s a thinker. I’m a feeler. He needs data. I want to be heard. He makes a decision and sticks with it. I make a choice and wonder about the path I didn’t take.
We speak different languages. We have different responses. He says one thing. I interpret something else. And as we’ve navigated the challenges of moving across the country and back, changing careers and starting a family, perhaps the most frustrating and encouraging thing to discover is that deep down, we both want the same things.
Shawn uses personality tests in business, so he’s convinced that most people don’t want to fight. “If you know who you’re dealing with,” my Executive husband says, “you know what they need. It’s about knowing yourself and the other person and meeting in the middle.”
That language is something I really understand. It’s like the ultimate one-sentence guide to making important relationships work.
Photo credit: Jody Mack Photography
Today, that young newlywed couple is a party of five. Lots of personalities, guaranteed to clash. Meeting in the middle. And the more I learn about myself and the people I love, the more I see that middle ground is a good place to be.