Driving Each Other Crazy? It's In Your DNA

couple fighting

Having different personality types affects your relationship more than you realize.

Are you like me? In a relationship with someone vastly different from you?

Whenever I am planning a trip, I start thinking about what I am going to pack at least three weeks ahead of time. I have created a master packing list of necessities for travel that I keep on my computer. That way I can modify the list depending on the time of year, climate at my destination, length of time I will be gone and purpose of the trip. About five days before "lift off," I begin to set aside what I will need. I usually feel excited as I get ready and make sure that I am 100 percent prepared by the time I zip my suitcase closed before departure.

My husband, on the other hand, is a last minute packer. He doesn't seem to give any thought to preparation until the day of the excursion when he often throws some clothing into a suitcase an hour before we leave home. Meanwhile, I stand by on the verge of a panic attack in fear that we will miss our flight. One November when we traveled from balmy California to blustery Canada, as we were gathering our belongings to disembark from the plane, he realized that he had forgotten to bring his winter jacket. As a result, he was chilled to the bone until we made it to a nearby mall to purchase a new one.

It's obvious that my spouse generally goes through life in a more relaxed state than I do. He likes to stop and smell the roses as he meanders along, believing that everything will work out. Unfortunately this difference between us has been a constant irritant in our long relationship. He can't comprehend my need for planning so far ahead, and sometimes I imagine that he procrastinates on purpose to annoy me, but that isn't so. In my heart, I know that neither of us acts the way we do to spite the other, yet neither of us seems able to change our behaviors since they feel so natural.

Is there someone in your life whose behavior you have trouble putting up with over and over, year in and year out?

Or, perhaps, is there a special someone who can't understand why you act the way you do?

Wise thinkers and scientists from Hippocrates to Dr. Carl Jung have been pondering human behavior for hundreds of years. They realized that although we may be able to change some of our behaviors, we are unable to change our basic nature and our temperament, no matter how hard we try. It seems that every one of us has a unique personality type that we are born with.

In the 1950s, Katherine Briggs and Isabel Myers developed a simple test to enable us to discover which of 16 personality types we correspond to. The Meyer Briggs test identifies 4 sets of qualities that describe each of these types. It is easy to find and take this test online. When you add up your score you will discover an accurate description of yourself.

The first set of qualities indicates that you are either an Extrovert or Introvert, shortened to E or I. E types love being with others, talk a lot, and may be quick to act, and think before they speak. I's usually enjoy being alone, tend to be quiet, and have fewer close friends.

The second set of traits, S or N, has to do with how we move through the world. Sensers focus on details. They are observant and practical. Sensers may think concretely. N's tend to be intuitive and creative, and they use their imagination to think of possibilities. They also tune into their intuition with ease.

The third pair of traits, Thinkers or Feelers, reflects how you make decisions. T's are logical in their approach to life. They may rely on science and logic and usually use their head when making decisions. Feelers come from their heart. F's are usually compassionate and emotional. They are more interested in feelings than facts.

The fourth category, J or P, stands for Judger or Perceiver. As you saw from my description at the beginning, I am very much a J. I like to be in control of my life and find that being organized gives me a sense of peace and safety. I love file cabinets and want to have everything in its right place. My Perceiver husband is definitely more casual and adaptable. P types tend to go with the flow rather than need to be in control of what happens.

The Meyer Briggs test will show you which of 16 possible combinations of these qualities describe you. I am an ENFJ while my spouse is an INFP. Uh oh! No wonder we sometimes butt heads and feel disappointed in the other one. Since the chances of either of us being able to change are nearly impossible, what is the solution? If someone special in your life is driving you crazy here are 5 activities you can perform to turn anger into understanding and improve your relationship.

  1. Take the Meyer Briggs test to discover your personality type. Find out the other person's type. There is a great deal of information on the internet about this.
  2. When you feel yourself getting exasperated by his or her actions or inaction, remind yourself that he or she can't help it. These traits are hardwired in them just as your traits are also hardwired in you. Neither of you can change being the way you are.
  3. Take a 5-minute time out. Put your hands over your heart. Gently begin to inhale as you count to 5 and exhale as you count to 5 as you focus on letting go of your anger or aggravation as you keep breathing. Do this until you feel calm.
  4. Make a list of 5 qualities this annoying person has that you love, admire or respect. Find ways to let them know it.
  5. Use EFT tapping as you focus on the thought: Even though _____ (name) is driving me crazy when he/she _____, it is because he/she is an _____ (ISTP, ENTP, etc.) and that is how they relate to the world. Therefore, I am releasing my annoyance and allowing myself to have compassion. You will find complete tapping instructions in my free eBook, Creating Happiness.

When my husband discovered that I was writing about this topic he searched online and discovered that the best mate for an INFP like him is an ENFJ like me! Maybe that's why we are still in love after all this time.

Contact Gloria to receive a free phone consult to discuss the difficult person in your life.