by Kayse Pratt
My husband, Jon, and I have been married for four years.
We’ve spent over two of those years in counseling. We have what we lovingly refer to as a “high maintenance marriage.” We didn’t really have the honeymoon period that people talk about. We got married and hit the ground running. Two very different, very strong-willed people, thrust into a brand new situation with a lot of baggage. It’s a recipe for disaster, really.
But four years later, we’ve hit our groove. We get along well, communicate well, respect each other well, and love each other well. Not every day, of course, but most of the time. We know that our marriage takes work, and we’ve invested in doing that work. It’s worth it to us.
One of the things that has really helped us along the way is learning about our personality types and spiritual gifts. Given, we’re both nerdy people who love taking tests and filling in bubbles, so this was right up our alley. But the results? They have truly helped us better understand one another.
When we got married, I tested on the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) as an ISFJ, and Jon tested as an ENTP. Please note that we had zero letters in common. Zero. That meant we were opposite in every way. I am a super introvert, Jon was an extreme extrovert. I’m an organized, step-by-step girl, and Jon’s an idea guy. I process decisions emotionally, and Jon has always been very logical and straightforward. And I’m very scheduled and planned, while Jon is more flexible and spontaneous.
We did have one thing in common. We both thought that our own way was the right way. Ahem.
Understanding the differences in our God-given personalities was huge for us. It helped us to realize that instead of each of us being out to get the other, we were simply wired differently. We processed and dealt with life in two incredibly different ways. Accepting each other’s personality required grace, and gave us freedom to extend the benefit of the doubt to each other. It dramatically changed the way we communicated, because we better understood one another.
The other thing that has really benefitted our marriage is identifying our spiritual gifts. In this area, we actually overlapped quite a bit!
Both Jon and I have been given the spiritual gift of Teaching. For each of us, though, this comes out in a completely different way. Jon also has the spiritual gift of Knowledge, and he uses every opportunity as a teaching moment — to teach something new, to share new information, to cause whoever he is speaking with to think more deeply and learn for themselves. For me, especially as an introvert, teaching comes in a more gentle way, guiding instead of lecturing. I also have the spiritual gifts of Mercy and Exhortation, meaning my approach is more process-oriented than outcome-oriented. So when a situation arises where one of us is trying to teach the other? Well, that’s where we clash a little bit. Same gift, different approaches!
We also possess different gifts. I have a strong gift of Discernment, and learning how to communicate that to Jon with respect has been really helpful for us. At the beginning of our marriage, when I would feel hesitant about a decision we were making, I would just shut him down. He interpreted that as disrespect, because I never explained my feelings and thoughts to him. Now, understanding that I have a discerning spirit, I am able to better explain my thoughts to him, and he is able to accept them as support, rather than opposition.
In the same way, Jon has the gift of Prophecy, which is defined as the ability to recognize and call out sin. At the beginning of our marriage, I saw this as pure criticism! He noticed everything I did wrong, and he wasn’t afraid to speak out about it. Over time, Jon has learned how to communicate in a more gentle way, and I’ve learned to accept his gift with less defensiveness, and more humility. Not that we get this right every time, but we try.
In a marriage where two entirely different people are trying their best to become one, understanding our personality types and spiritual gifts has been an incredible help! We are grateful for the ways that the Lord has used this information to help shape our understanding of each other. The more we become students of ourselves and our spouses, the better we can extend the kind of love that Jesus did — love that is unselfish, servant-hearted, and personal.
Making our high maintenance marriages just a little bit easier.
Kayse Pratt is a teacher turned stay-at-home mom, married to her favorite musician. She is passionate about the Truth and has a heart to encourage women who are quietly struggling in their faith. Kayse writes about faith, family, and real life on her blog, kaysepratt.com. Additionally, Kayse is the founder of Simply Devoted Ministries, a contributing author for Allume, and serves as a leader for (in)courage Community Groups.