People often say that opposites attract. Never has this been truer than for my husband and me. I’m an ISTJ personality type and he’s an ENFP. Total opposites.
(What’s your personality type? Take a free personality assessment.)
Here are six significant ways in which we are different.
The ISTJ vs. the ENFP
1. I focus on the here and now, while he dreams of the future.
As an ISTJ, I spend time thinking about upcoming appointments, weekend plans, and making lists for the grocery store. I find the things that he spends time mulling over too theoretical and impractical, irrelevant to our lives in the here and now. I focus on the details of everyday life, the things that are most pertinent to us in a realistic time frame.
As an ENFP, he spends a lot of time thinking about philosophical ideologies, the existence of extraterrestrial lifeforms, social justice issues, and higher realms of consciousness. He finds it tedious to expend brain power on mundane, everyday tasks when there is so much more that the world has to offer. He focuses on the big picture, with extravagant dreams and visions for the future.
2. I struggle to express myself, but he communicates effortlessly.
Expressing my thoughts and emotions does not come easily to me. When there is something serious that I want to talk about, I prefer to write an email, spelling out all of the points that I want to make, choosing my words carefully, and making sure I don’t leave anything important out. I communicate best when I have time and space to plan my thoughts out accordingly, with no pressure to share until I’m ready.
My husband prefers to dialogue and converse in real time. He is able to express his thoughts and emotions very well verbally. He thinks best and often has epiphanies while speaking out loud. After he reads the email, he promptly picks up the phone (if we’re not in the same place), so that he can talk to me about the topic at hand. He is able to articulate himself clearly and effectively through verbal communication.
3. I get drained by small talk, but he shines in social settings.
For me, after the basic, “Where are you from? What do you do?” I’m typically at a loss as to how to keep the conversation going. I find small talk extremely taxing and not meaningful (this is one of the signs of an introvert), and I don’t enjoy it very much. Once I am comfortable and get to know a person fairly well, I am able to relax and not put as much pressure on myself or the situation. That is when I am able to be myself and open up more.
This is where my husband shines. He is charismatic, energetic, and has a genuine interest in learning about other people. He loves learning about people who are different and similar to himself. Even when others are more reserved, he is able to ask all the right questions to get them sharing about themselves. He is skilled at thinking on his feet and eliminating awkwardness from any situation.
4. Academics came easily for me, but he struggles to focus.
For as long as I can remember, I have always been academically gifted. Doing well in school and getting good grades came easily to me, when I willingly put in the effort. I’m a particularly fast test taker and reader, and I do well on standardized tests. I excel in areas such as math and science, but I don’t have a wide array of knowledge or interest in many different topics.
My husband is very intelligent and able to grasp concepts easily. However, focus can be hard for him to attain and numbers get mixed up in his mind easily. He requires additional time to complete similar work, but he understands the concepts just as well. He has a basic knowledge of a wide array of topics, and is a self-taught expert in certain topics in which he develops a keen interest.
5. I don’t empathize easily, but he does.
As an ISTJ, it is harder for me to empathize with others on a deeper level, unless I’ve also had the same experience. I tend to want to give advice to help solve the problem, rather than share in the feelings they are experiencing. I am able to remain fairly detached emotionally and maintain stability and a calm demeanor. It takes a lot for me to get extremely excited, sad, anxious, etc. I also don’t tend to show a lot of emotion on my face or through my body language.
In contrast, my husband can read people effortlessly. He knows immediately when I have something on my mind that I’m not telling him. He feels other people’s feelings very deeply and is extremely affected by the energy (positive or negative) around him. He gets overwhelmed by emotions easily, through situations or by the people in his life.
6. I’m more logical, and he’s more creative.
I think more logically and have a harder time coming up with creative ideas. Most of the time, I like to follow the traditional course of action and don’t tend to think outside the box. I’m great at meeting deadlines and planning out schedules for completing projects and tasks.
He is a very creative individual and needs to express himself through creative outlets, such as music. He has many different interests and not enough time to devote to all of them. He is constantly challenging the way things currently are and looking for better methods of implementation.
Being married to your opposite is both challenging and rewarding. We clash frequently because our thinking and the ways we express ourselves are so different.
However, we also complement each other perfectly. I’m competent in the areas that he is not and vice versa. We have the opportunity to learn from each other and improve in the areas in which we are lacking.
The key to maintaining a happy and fulfilling marriage is communication. We have to constantly make sure we are on the same page about the things going on in our lives. Because we communicate so differently, it’s important to be intentional about making this an integral part of our daily lives.
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