“It is quite clear that between love and understanding there is a very close link...
He who loves understands, and he who understands loves.
One who feels understood feels loved,
and one who feels loved feels sure of being understood.”
A few months ago I polled followers and friends on IG asking what part of "the stuff I share" most interested them. I was surprised but encouraged that the overwhelming response was "Marriage" and "Parenting" topics! I've gradually decided to share the resources and topics that have most shaped and encouraged our vision for and daily life of marriage. We love to learn and I am almost constantly little tid-bits here or there that help strengthen us. Whether you're single, happily married, or 'unhappily' married, I believe these principals are good, true, and beautiful and I pray even one of them can help increase your joy and love. If you're just joining me now, here are all previous Marriage Resource Posts for easy navigating:
1. The Big Three ("This Is Us," anyone?)
2. Personality Tests
3. Improving Communication
4. Date Night vs. Connection
(Meyers-Briggs, Enneagram, Love Languages, etc)
Why I Don't Like Personality Tests/Labels: I don't like how they can give people an excuse for a character flaw because "that's just how I am!" Like somehow we are unable to develop, change, grow, or become more. I don't like how they're limited (no one is all or not at all *something*). I don't like how they can make one assume about another: "Oh, she's a feeler... that's why." instead of getting to know a real person, you get to know a description.
Why I Do Like Personality Tests/Labels: I think they can give prompts, spark insight, and provide words to help understand yourself and people you love. So, in marriage, this has been delightful for us. I've always been called "argumentative" and "someone who has to stir the pot." For some people, this way I am makes it difficult for us to connect and be close, but for Caleb, it was what drew him to me. THEN, when we read about the "ENTP Personality Type" or "Type 8" personality type, and discover that there are large swaths of people who not only think and interact with the world through being devil's advocate, but also show love and care by trying to understand (and be able to defend and "put themselves in the shoes..." from all sides) it bridges connection.
Now, since I crave "debate" and "back-and-forth-hashing" does it mean it's my right to impose it on people however, and whenever, over whatever, I want? Nope. I have to learn how to temper my sparring, and choose other forms of communication that are more loving to others. But in the meantime, Caleb understands (as my primary, most-intimate person) that there is nothing more exhilarating or "welcoming" for me than to hear someone respond to what I've said with: "Hmmm, I see what you're saying, but what about this? Hm?" It's like fireworks and hoopla and dopamine. "Yesssss! They want to talk! They want to share their ideas and hear mine! Yesssss!" So instead of conversations turning into actual fights or hurts for us because of misunderstanding, the very far majority of the time they turn into fascinating points of connection because he gets and sees this very real part of me that is not the case for plenty of others.
I also like how personality tests can help elaborate on how the quality you possess has it's positive sides, as well as negative sides. It helps me very much to understand that! I think, if used well, personality tests can aid in two people "knowing and seeing" each other.
A relative once told us a story about their pre-marital counseling. They were asked to write down a series of answers to questions, privately, and then were to review their answers with the counselor together. They got to the question of 'What size family do you want to have: small or big?' One answered 'small.' The other answered 'big.' When they revealed their answers out loud they were both shocked, and turned to the other! 'What! I thought we agreed: three kids...' 'I know! Three kids is a big family!' 'Oh. Haha. I think of three kids as a small family!' Though they were saying the same thing, they had completely different reasons for and ways of saying it. I feel like this happens often amongst human beings ;) But learning nuances and bits of understanding can give such context for living life with someone! And helps us notice and appreciate their gestures of love, and to be well-suited to pour love on them.
- "What's wrong? You're being so quiet!" "Nothing! I just like being quiet sometimes!"
- "Man, what happened? This is such a mess! Are you stressed?" "Oh, no! I'm so happy! I made something!"
- "You're bored aren't you?" "Not at all, I'm genuinely content!"
- "Why do you always want to be with other people? Aren't you happy being with me?" "So happy! Makes me so pumped to go out and connect with other people! I love being connected!"
- "Are you mad at me?" "No, I'm just exhausted!"
In a world that can seem hell-bent on emphasizing stereotypical differences in "men and women!" I believe it's essential to set aside preconceived notions and add to your set of experiences, and learn this person as they are. I don't think it's nearly as impossible or goofy as some might act.
The purpose is joy, closeness, and faithfulness. I pray somewhere in here even one line or thought can contribute to yours! To see more, click here: Favorite Marriage Resources.