Category Archives: Marriage

Teaching Purity

Two weeks ago, I was in Magnolia, Arkansas speaking at a purity conference for teen girls.  We had a great time and I was so blessed by the women there and their hearts to serve, lead and mentor their youth.

I have literally had months to study the topic of purity and to ask the Lord to reveal His ideas and His ways for teaching it.  I’ve been angered, convicted and overjoyed all in the same breath as He has shown me what purity really is and how we live it out.

While I could probably write a book, I’d like to share just four key things that may help you as you address purity in your own life or in the life of a young person in your care.

1) Purity is not a program.

I am a conference junkie.  Hello, I am a conference and retreat speaker!  I think programs can be great tools, necessary and highly effective.  I even teach an abstinence program through a local pregnancy resource center called CARE (Center for Adolescent Relationships Education) in public schools.  However, perhaps our modern approach to teaching purity needs an overhaul.  In the early 1990’s, the True Love Waits program was launched.  This program taught abstinence to Christian teens and encouraged them to make a pledge to remain a virgin until marriage.  It didn’t take long for musicians, church leaders and youth pastors across the nation to grab hold and the program caught fire.  Rings, jewelry, t-shirts, books, Bible studies and even more programs were born out of the True Love Waits movement.  Yours truly was right in the middle of it!  I remember where I was the night I signed my pledge card and I don’t regret that decision for a moment.

But, here’s the problem:  abstinence and purity are not the same thing.

For two decades, Christianity has been screaming this theme.  Ask a teenager.  They will tell you if they don’t have sex until they are married, they have remained pure.   Wrong.  There are so many other ways to be impure.  On the flip side, if a teen has had sex already, they assume they are no longer pure and never can be again.  I won’t even go into the implications of that belief on victims of abuse and rape.

In my experience, most “purity” conferences and programs largely focus on providing tools for remaining pure (or for abstinence).  You know, the DO’s and the DO NOT’s.

“Do believe you’re beautiful and worth waiting for, so…”

“Don’t be a flirt.”

“Don’t dress like a floozy.”

“Don’t watch R rated movies.”

“Don’t compare yourself to supermodels.”

“Don’t be alone in the back seat of a car with a boy.”

“Do stand up to peer pressure.”

“Do go on group dates”

“Do make sure your parents approve of the guy.”

“Do wait until you are sixteen to date.”

“On second thought, don’t date at all.  Kiss dating goodbye.”

And the list goes on.

While the intentions and motives behind providing this advice and instruction are usually very good and while the information and setting of boundaries can be great, this approach is not best.  Giving students tools without foundational truth is a band-aid approach.  The minute they find them-self in a heated situation where lust, hormones  and emotions are ignited the only thing they will be kissing goodbye is that pledge card!  So, purity is not achieved through a good program.

2) Purity to God is ONLY achieved through Christ.  No amount of good choices will EVER make someone pure.  Walking the aisle on your wedding day wearing white and having intercourse for the first time that night does not make you pure.  The fact that Jesus Christ came to this earth and offered Himself as a pure and sinless sacrifice is the only hope you and I have for purity.  The fact that God, in His sovereignty, love and GRACE chose to allow us to claim the righteousness of Christ by faith, is the ONLY thing that makes you or me pure in the eyes of a holy and righteous God.  Period.  Nothing else even comes close.  So, stop teaching purity as morality through a program for good behavior.  Teach purity from the perspective of the gospel.

3)  Purity in behavior is a TOOL for promoting the gospel.  Because God desires to have a relationship with us and with others, He works through the Holy Spirit and His word to make our behavior pure so that He can use us to show His glory and spread His gospel to others.   He gave us a body, just as He did Christ, so that we can accomplish this purpose.  That is why, teen, you were born with a body.  Your body — no matter its shape, size or ability — is a tool for promoting Jesus and His work on the cross.  (see number 2) This is why we don’t go straight to heaven when we become a believer.  God desires to use you here for His purpose.

4)  Purity is corporate and purity is personal. The Bible teaches that the body, both the body of believers (1 Corinthians 3) and the individual body (1 Corinthians 6), are to choose purity.  Why?  Because God decided the body —your body — is a temple.  A study of the old testament temple and the new testament descriptions of the body (this is where a book could come in!) lead us to three important facts:

  • Like the pre-Christ temple, your body and the church body are to be used as instruments of worship to Jehovah God.  Want to live a life of purity?  Live a life that focuses on using the body as an instrument of worship, Monday through Sunday.  Nothing made Jesus’ blood pressure rise more than the day He approached his Father’s house (the temple) and it had become a den of thieves!  (John 2:12-23) So, learn to worship.  In other words, put your love for God on display everyday.  Don’t feel like you love God enough to really do that?  Go back to the gospel.  Learn the gospel. (see number 2) There is NOTHING more important.  You have a body for the very purpose of worship and this is the method by which God will use you to reach others.  When your focus is on worshiping God with your body, making healthy and smart choices about how to use it suddenly become quite simple.  Don’t you think?
  • Like the pre-Christ temple, your body is a house for the Spirit of the living God.  The very presence of God dwells — lives — in you. (Romans 8, 1 Corinthians 3, 6)  I know when I finally, truly understood this it gave a whole new power to the word CONVICTION.  I couldn’t watch, listen to or allow anything impure into my mind or presence without feeling the grief of the Holy Spirit.  Teens need no other motive for purity than this; to understand the living God is present in their body.  He’s in the classroom, in the movie theater, on the couch, in the back seat of the car, at the restaurant and at the party.  He is not hanging around outside the body hiding somewhere in the shadows, watching from a distance.  He is right here, IN you.
  • God has the right to use your body as His house and for His worship because He owns you.  Gaining heaven means losing your rights.  For the believer, it’s not, “well, it’s my body and I can do what I want with it.”  If you want a relationship with God; if you want entrance into His kingdom, then you give up your body to Him.  The word teaches that you were bought, purchased, and redeemed at a price.  It cost Jesus His very life with the Father in glory to save you from your sin and to rescue your body from death and total destruction.  You did not one thing to deserve this.  He freely offers you the gift of this miraculous salvation.  He freely offers you life.  It comes free to you, but it was not free for Him.  True Love didn’t’ wait.  True Love died on a cross for us long before we knew Him.  If you desire purity, you surrender all to Him because He is worthy of nothing less.

I’m praying God will use this approach to purity in the lives of many youth and adults.  I’ve personally spoken to nearly 90,000 teenagers over the last decade and from my experience, sometimes I think we (adults) don’t give them enough credit.  We think there is no way they can “get this.”  So, we apply band-aids and hope for the best.

Will you just trust the Father?  Trust the Holy Spirit to work.  Boldly teach your children the truth and allow Him to do the rest.

I know from my own life, I am so thankful that my decisions as a teen (not that I always made the right ones!) were not based on, “what will my parents think?  or what will my friends think?”  but on “what will my Jesus think?”  And, although I often failed Him, I was always confident in His love for me and I knew my relationship with Him would win because He was always faithful to pursue me again.  This is only true because I was rooted in His truth.  I was taught His word and HIS WORD WORKS.

 


No-bite Christianity

As John David Smith reported at the BMA of America National meeting, the United States is one of the only countries in the world where, overall, the church is in decline. There are plenty of theories available  as to why this is happening, but here is one more anyway.

As a whole, I think American churches fit the cliché “all bark and no bite.” I actually think there are a great number of pastors who preach good doctrine. We have better Biblical literacy in America than just about anywhere else in the world. Mass media has made the Christian message available to the whole nation. In the U.S., the gospel is not a secret to anyone who is curious about God. We have plenty of “bark.” We lack “bite.”

So what exactly gives Christianity some teeth with which to bite? I’ll first tell you what our bite is not:

Our bite is not now, nor has it ever been political power. Most people know what Christians are against. If we think by gaining enough political power we can somehow legislate our country into righteousness, we are mistaken. We do not wrestle with flesh and blood. And as I mentioned before, I think that Christianity and the gospel, at least in America, are fairly familiar or, at worst, are widely accessible to the general population. So what do we lack?

I believe we are lacking in Christians who actually live as if they really believe Jesus is the only thing that satisfies.

American Christianity at-large is not “I surrender all” Christianity.  It’s more like, “I surrender almost all, but let’s not get crazy” Christianity.  It’s get-me-out-of-hell Christianity rather than give-me-Jesus Christianity. It’s “I’m going to give some of my time, talents and money to Jesus” Christianity and not “I’m going to bring back to God what He has given me” Christianity.

These attitudes manifest in many ways. I’ll mention two areas that I observe as having a huge impact, but this list is by no means exhaustive.

 Finances

For many, giving financially to the church or missions only occurs at a comfortable level. This means that giving never exceeds a comfort zone. Sure, we’ll tithe, but that is because we’ve already budgeted that in. But real sacrificial giving is another story.  Surely God would never ask us to actually have faith that he will supply our needs when we give in such a way that dips beyond our budgeted plans or makes us give up the things we want? Did you know that if you make $34,000 per year, you are in the top 1% of the world in income? The top .1% begins at 70k. With those facts in mind, you might read 1 Timothy 6:17-19 in a new light. You might also want to do a quick Google search on how many times God addresses how we should care for the poor. 

Marriage and Sex

I truly believe the real reason that the church is losing cultural relevance in the areas of sexual purity and marriage is because we have unwittingly adopted the world’s idea that sex and romance are the ways a person gains ultimate satisfaction. Of course this isn’t preached from the pulpit, but it’s definitely in our church culture. Single adults are often looked upon with pity. Why? If a person is totally in love with Jesus and is totally trusting God to be their provider of what they actually need, there is no reason to pity them. (This concept also applies to how we often pity missionaries or pastors who don’t make much money.) Marriage and sex are good things, but Jesus is better. Let’s just be real. Most of us don’t really think a person can experience the fulness of life without a sexual partner. And because we believe that, we constantly tell singles “God has someone out there for you.” Or we tell the gay community “God will change your desires and then you might have a spouse someday.” 

What we need is to tell ourselves and others is the truth: Jesus alone is better than anything. In fact, Jesus alone is better than Jesus plus anything else. To follow Christ is to die to yourself so He can give you His life. He paid it all, so he owns it all. 

The world sees us trying to hang on to everything it has to offer, only giving up as much as we feel necessary to be accepted in our church culture. The world sees that we want the same pleasures and fulfillments it wants, and thinks Jesus is holding us back from what we really want, but He makes us feel like good people. And when the world sees that, the gospel becomes part of another religious system. All our barking about Jesus ceases to have any bite whatsoever. 

For more resources on Finances or Sex and Marriage, visit our Resources page.


The FABRIC of Family

Monday night I had the fun opportunity to speak at a Mother/Daughter banquet in my hometown.  Hometown speaking gigs are intimidating to say the least!  I’m happy to have made it through.  The theme of the night was family and since today is Mother’s Day, family life is heavy on my heart.  Here are the six things I introduced to weave or thread into the F.A.B.R.I.C. of your family.

F – a Firm Foundation

If there is one thing I can be certain about in this life it is this: things change.  The world is moving at a fast pace.  Ideas, research, and theories seem to shift like the sand along the seashore.  One phone call could literally change my  life as I know it. Any day, anytime, everything can change.   What can we trust?  Is there anything solid to hold on to?

In the book of Matthew, Jesus spoke about people who live their lives based on His teachings.  He compared them to a wise man who built his house on a rock.  Though strong winds, heavy rain and flooding would come, the house built on the rock would stand.  Jesus promised.  (Matthew 7:24-25)

Is your house built on a firm foundation?  There is one thing I have found I can count on, now and forever.  One thing that is not subject to the restraints of time nor the decisions of man.  I find great comfort, confidence and security in knowing that the nature and character of God has not and will not change.  God is unique to that truth.  Because I can trust His unchanging character, I can build my life according to His ways, His design and His plans.

For my family, I will show them and teach them and thread through them this truth; we must build our house on a firm foundation.

A- Attitude of Gratitude

Philippians 2:14 says, “Do all things without complaining and disputing,”  Really, ALL things?  Without complaining.  What a challenge.  Here is a great quote by Charles Swindoll I heard years ago.  This quote was the core of one of the first speeches I ever gave in high school.

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.

Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home.

The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude… I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.

And so it is with you… we are in charge of our attitudes.

As my mother says, “Be thankful for every normal day.”

For my family, I will show them and teach them and thread through them this truth; we must have an attitude of gratitude.

B – Bond of Peace

We have all been hurt by our family.  Somewhere along the line, in some way, whether by something done physically or something said, no one goes through family-life pain free.  No one.  However, if we want to keep our families together, happy and productive, we must forgive.  Let it go already.  Have the talk.  Send the e-mail.  Get it on the table — if necessary — and let it go.  Romans says, “if possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.”

The best way to learn how to forgive is to make a list of all the mean, hateful, selfish, prideful and wrong things you’ve done and been forgiven for.  When you see the grace that has covered you, it becomes much easier to forgive others.  I am so thankful that a perfect and holy God extends His grace to me.  Who am I to withhold forgiveness from another?

For my family, I will show them and teach them and thread through them this truth; we must desire a bond of peace.  We must forgive.

R – Respect for Differences

Aren’t you glad we are not all the same?  If my husband and I were just alike, one of us would be useless.  God is so creative.  I admire His artistry as I look at the people in my life.  All of us are unique and made for purpose.  Rather than assuming differences are flaws, we should respect and admire what makes us different.  In Proverbs, there is a famous verse that says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is older he will not depart from it.”  For years I thought the core intent of the verse was teaching us to train up a child in THE WAY.  I agree that is a solid plan.  I will do that.  But, actually, with a bit more research and learning, I have found that the intended emphasis is on the word he.  “Train up a child in the way he should go.”  Interesting.  We should raise our children in keeping with who they are and who they were created to be.  Of course, they should live within the bounds of right and wrong, and it is our job as parents to teach them the boundaries; but in terms of their personality and interests and passions, we should support and encourage them to go their way.

I am so thankful for parents who got this right three kids in a row.

For my family, I will show them and teach them and thread through them this truth; we must respect and even admire our differences.

I – In Tune with THE Mission

The mission that matters is simple; know God and make Him famous.  Life is short.  It really is like a vapor or a flower that blooms and then withers away.  Much of what we do day in and day out is in vain and is temporary.  The entire Bible is about God’s desire to have a relationship with mankind.  He wants to be known by us, now and for eternity.  Unfortunately, we are usually in the way of that relationship or distracted by our relationship with this world.   I want my family to be on mission with God through Jesus Christ to introduce the world to Him.  I want us to be a part of His team.  Not team members wearing jerseys and sitting in the stands, but team members on the field and in the game.  Why?  Because in the end, God’s team will win.

For my family, I will show them and teach them and thread through them this truth; we must be in tune with THE mission.

C – Commitment to the Cost

Commitment is a thread that has been unraveled in our society.  We scoff at the thought.  We are so conditioned to freedom, convenience, flexibility and disappointment, that we struggle with commitment.  I want my family to be committed to truth, to the mission, to God and to each other.  Just because something is hard, does not mean it must be wrong.  We will not walk away just because we are uncomfortable, inconvenienced, unappreciated or misunderstood.  Commitment is hard.  Life is hard.  We must consider today what it will cost to be committed rather than waiting until things are a mess to figure it out.  I want to raise a family that will finish.

For my family, I will show them and teach them and thread through them this truth; we must understand commitment and stand strong no matter the cost.

For those of you who come from or who are living in the midst of a family whose fabric has been unraveled, I have great news for you:

God can sew.No family is perfect.  Mine certainly is not!  But God uses imperfect people and messed up families all the time.  He is a master at healing hurts, correcting wrongs, putting people and families back together and working things together for our good and for His glory.

We are all a life in progress.

 

 


Let Me Help You Get Organized and Save Money!

So, several years ago my husband and I read Dave Ramsey’s book, Total Money Makeover.  Nathan had become a regular listener to Ramsey’s nationally recognized radio program.  Through our Total Money Makeover experience, we discovered emeals.  Emeals is a meal planning system that I found extremely helpful.  As of yesterday, I learned there is now a new emeals APP!  I was so excited, I must share!

A quick history…

While my hubby and I were not in financial disarray, we had the desire to launch our own business.  This meant big changes. We wanted to be successful entrepreneurs and knew enough to know that most entrepreneurs fail.  Starting with no personal debt is what has allowed us to continue growing our businesses without the fear and pressure that comes with trying to keep all balls in the air.  Financial freedom is…well…it’s freeing.

That said, as a young wife, I needed help managing our grocery budget.  I barely knew anything about cooking, much less grocery shopping effectively or organizing meal plans for the week.  However, my husband desperately wanted to continue eating.  So, I needed a plan and I needed to spend as little money as possible.

That has not changed.

Today, we have added two children to the mix, I have come to enjoy cooking —sometimes — and use emeals often to do the work for me.  I think I like it most because it makes this Choleric/Sanguine look organized, efficient and food savvy.   I quickly learned that meal planning was a huge part of maintaining a tight grocery bill and keeping us on track financially.

Here are my top 10 reasons for recommending this to you:

1) It is totally done for me.

2) I can choose how we want to eat.  We have been on a low fat diet for years now.  You can choose everything from organic to low-carb to classic meals.

3) I can choose my grocery store.  Emeals helps you find the right brands, actually available at your store, to cook a meal that tastes good but costs little.

4) I can choose how many people I want to feed.  With pre-school age children, we are still able to eat off a menu for two.

5) The recipes are easy!  I hate using fancy cookbooks.  I never know what they are talking about.  Emeals keeps it simple and easy to follow.

6) I can easily eliminate meals I know my family won’t eat or when I know I won’t be cooking every night.

7) The plan updates everything automatically and accordingly, so I really don’t have to think too hard.

8) Perhaps my favorite part: the grocery list is itemized by department at the grocery store.  This makes it easy to find what I need, fast.  Very helpful with two toddlers in tow!

9) The menu tells you what staples you should already have.  A quick mental check or physical check and I never get home and get mad because I forgot something for a recipe.  (You know how that can frustrate a cook!?)

10) And now…everything is on the app!  I no longer have to print the menu and carry those papers around the store.  Yippee!  This makes me happy.  I can check things off the list, add extra things I need to pick up, like bread and milk, and I can quickly eliminate things I know I have at home with the delicate touch of my index finger.

Yep.  I’m a fan.  I’m sure there are similar meal plan systems on the market that are also good. But, if you are like me and you don’t have time to research it out…here’s the only link you need.  http://www.emeals.com/welcome/index.php?source=app

Or, search your app store.

Here’s to simplifying life!

 

 

 


Personalities and Love

Personalities & LOVE

Great relationships take work.  Accept the fact that relationships; whether they be marital, parental, companion or co-worker, are not always easy to maintain.  In fact, good relationships are hard to keep.  However, we should stop equating hard with bad.  Great relationships are worth fighting for.

Always, when I present the basics of personalities, people are curious about how personalities affect their relationships, usually with their spouse.  They want to know if “opposites attract” and what that may mean for their marriage.

I am pleased to report that my husband, Nathan, and I have a fantastic marriage.  While we certainly are not perfect people and we have our struggles, we agree that knowing personalities and understanding emotional needs gives us a unique perspective on our relationship.  We both have a rich appreciation for the strengths we possess as individuals, which helps us truly love and respect one another.  We are a team.  I encourage any married person or anyone considering marriage to study personalities.

Here is a brief overview of how relationships work based on personality type.

SHARED SPACE

The “easiest” and most common relationships seem to be when the couple shares some personality space.  In other words, you and the person you are in relationship with have one color or square of the personality chart in common, but are not totally alike.  Those commonalities in behavior and expectation make the relationship easier because you naturally understand certain things about one another and are likely to have the same reactions to life circumstances.  Having your secondary personality color or square differ provides just enough balance to keep the relationship interesting.

The Popular Sanguine Relationship (yellow) – FUN!  ADVENTUROUS!  SPONTANEOUS!  Need I say more?  When two sanguines get together, it seems the fountain of fun will never run dry.  However, as we all know, there are moments in life that are just not any fun.  When the fun fades, the sanguine relationship is in danger.  Sanguines must learn how to deal with the difficult times and the fact that adult responsibilities do exist and must be handled properly.  Sometimes, planning is necessary for success and decision-making.  Together, this duo must learn how to navigate and overcome adversity.  They must learn time management, what it means to commit and how to follow the rules.  They must learn how to have fun without money and when other “not-as-fun” people are involved.  If you are in a sanguine relationship that is struggling, go have fun together.  Act a little crazy and the spark will be rekindled.

The Perfect Melancholy Relationship (blue) – When the melancholy square is the shared space the relationship tends to be well organized and private.  Time spent together is well thought out and properly placed on the calendar.  As a couple, these two have plans for provision, education and vacation as well as a timely budget or strategies for the budget in place.  The home is neat and orderly and bills are always paid on time.  However, high expectations often put a heavy burden on the relationship and it may become difficult for either person to feel perfect enough.  It may be tempting to become critical of one another and difficult to forgive and forget when the other person creates a mess.  If you are in a melancholy relationship be willing to accept delays, mishaps and changes in the plan.  Work together, but be careful not to isolate yourselves from extended family and friends.  Take time away from your normal routine to enjoy one another’s company and your common love for the arts or nature, without any rules or expectations.

The Powerful Choleric Relationship (red) – Out of the way!  Two cholerics will be working to change the world, or at least their own.  This couple is on the move, going places, doing things, seeing people, getting things done…in a word; ACTIVE.  This couple will be goal-oriented and productive.  “Down time” is spent on the next project and together this team is unstoppable.  However, these two will find themselves competing for control and for one another’s time.  Working on any relationship is too easily put off for working on work.  Be careful not to become competitive with one another.  Focus on supporting and respecting each other’s ideas.  Make time to relax.  But, realize that most of your bonding will occur as you work side by side and see accomplishments come as a result of your hard teamwork.

The Peaceful Phlegmatic Relationship (green) – Two peaceful phlegmatics simply have it made.  They are generally at peace with one another and have a relaxed relationship.  They don’t tend to pressure one another to change or do…well…anything.   As a couple they are open to whatever.  However, the reality of life circumstances are often stressful and managing a home, children and careers can easily become overwhelming for this pair.  If you are in a peaceful phlegmatic relationship you must work extra hard on communication, planning and setting boundaries.  Naturally, conflict is avoided.  So, working through problems, making decisions and sticking to a plan are difficult at best.  Phlegmatic couples are a great example for the rest of us, though, on how to be accepting, content and satisfied in a relationship.

OPPOSITES ATTRACT – When no commonalities in personality exist.

If the relationship is Powerful Choleric/Perfect Melancholy with Peaceful Phlegmatic/Popular Sanguine, the pair is a nice balance.  Some common ground exists because both people are part extrovert and part introvert giving the couple flexibility and a way to connect.  Easily, the couple will recognize their differences and have great potential to really appreciate those differences.  This is the scenario where one truly compliments the other.

If the relationship is EXTROVERT vs. INTROVERT or Sanguine/Choleric with Melancholy/Phlegmatic, the work begins.  This marriage can be very successful and fulfilling, but requires tremendous understanding.  Remember, one person is turbo-charged and energized by people, while the other is sucked dry by people and wants to go home.  This relationship will take some serious negotiating from both parties.

However, when opposites do attract the couple has a unique opportunity to create a well-rounded lifestyle and relationship that other couples struggle to find.

TOO MUCH ALIKE 

Not as common, but occasionally, people of the same personality are drawn to one another, fall in love (basically with them self) and get married.  Interestingly, it seems these marriages or lifestyles often require more attention than others because of the lack of balance.  And, by nature, two choleric or two melancholy personalities in a close relationship may need the most work of all.

The marriage will tend to have an extreme tilt.  For example if two choleric people marry, there will likely be an “abnormal” amount of conflict.  In order to tilt the marriage back to a healthy or normal range, practicing good conflict resolution becomes crucial.  Usually, one person in this relationship will have to learn to relinquish control to make peace and they begin to look a bit less “choleric.”  On the other extreme, in a relationship where both people are peaceful phlegmatic, conflict is completely avoided and lack of communication may become a serious issue.  In order for there to be progress in the home, one will be forced to step into the role of planning, making decisions and being more productive than their natural tendencies.

I think in most relationships where both people share a majority of personality traits, one person, for the sake of the relationship and general lifestyle, will step outside of their natural personality and learn to take on new traits to compensate for what is naturally off balance.  As a result, some people may even transform into what seems to be a much different person than they were when you married them.  The transformation may be just what you hoped for or it may leave you feeling unsure about the person you married.  Recognizing why change was required will help you appreciate the way your spouse has adapted to living with you.  Remember, change can be a positive thing, but the original personality is still deep within and the corresponding emotional needs still apply.

SINGLE?  NO WORRIES.  For those of you who are single, you may wonder, “Do I need a significant other to feel complete and have balance in my life?  No.  Marriage is not the only relationship.  There will be plenty of other people in your life who create that balance you need.  A phlegmatic male will find motivation from his choleric mother.  A choleric female will be humbled by her boss.  Sanguine singles will eventually settle down and seek advice from a grandparent.  A melancholy man will learn to relax as his co-workers drag him to office parties.  Just living with family, co-workers and friends will make you aware of differences in personality and you will naturally experience the fullness personalities bring to all human relationships.  Thankfully, as human beings, we have the intellectual ability to learn, change and take on strengths of other personalities so that we can access our own reserves of hidden potential, single or not.

To summarize, what is important in our relationships: don’t try to change the one we chose.  We chose our spouse because there was something about them we couldn’t live without.  We loved that “it” factor.  The “it” factor, my friends, is probably their personality — who they are and how they are wired.  Amazingly, whatever the thing was that drew us to them in the first place is the thing we end up being most annoyed by later.  Accept your differences.  Appreciate what makes your spouse unique.  Work hard at giving them the gift of meeting their emotional needs. Speaking of…

In case you need a refresher, here are the basic emotional needs of each personality:

Sanguine  (yellow) : Attention from all, Affection (touching), Approval of every deed, Acceptance “as is”

Melancholy (blue) : Sensitivity to their feelings, Understanding, Space to be alone, Silence (no people)

Choleric (red) : Loyalty, Sense of Control, Appreciation for all their hard work, Accomplishment

Phlegmatic (green) : Peace and quiet, Feelings of Worth, Lack of Stress, Respect for who they are, not what they do

 

 

 
 

 

 

 


Nobody’s Listening! Learn to talk so people hear what you are saying.

Personalities & Communication

Learn to talk so people hear what you’re saying!

Theodore Roosevelt once said, “The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.”

The key to knowing how to get along with people is knowing how to communicate with them.  Nothing is more frustrating than being misunderstood.  This month I want to address one of the most important topics on the planet; communication.

If you have been receiving this newsletter for long, you are aware that your personality affects nearly every aspect of your life.  In terms of how we communicate, consider this:

If I speak English and you speak French we are going to have trouble communicating until we each make the effort to learn the other’s language.  Or, we are going to spend a lot of money hiring an interpreter.  In the same way, if I speak the choleric/sanguine personality language and you are phlegmatic/melancholy, we are going to have trouble communicating unless we learn to speak each other’s language.  Or, we might spend a lot of money hiring a therapist or divorce lawyer.

Today I would like to share with you some practical tips on how to communicate better.  There will always be misunderstandings.  There will always be break downs in communication.  You cannot change how someone else communicates.  But, you can change how you approach others and in return, you will find that others will try to match your level of communicating.  You can work to minimize the problems and experience the relief, joy and productivity that comes with knowing you are heard.

In order to make this simple, let’s sort through the main how-to’s very directly by personality type.

Popular/Playful Sanguine – The Talker

If you are popular sanguine, limit your words and quit being so loud.  We talk too much and we talk in a loud tone.  It’s overwhelming to those who are not sanguine.  So, only say half of what comes to your mind to say.  Don’t finish a story that has been interrupted unless you are asked to finish it.  (Which, I’ll warn you, will never happen.) Practice saying only what is vital.  Listen intently for and use the other person’s name.  Stop dominating every conversation drawing the attention to yourself.  Invite others into conversations by asking them what they think or if they share your experience.  Practice listening and not interrupting.  Apologize when you interrupt and then be quiet.  Wait to speak until asked.  (I know, that one is tough!)

If you are communicating TO popular or playful sanguine, understand their personality language.  Tell stories, not gossip.  Sanguines do not keep secrets well.  Give colorful details.  The word “fine” is not okay.  Be more creative in your descriptions.  Use adjectives such as terrific, fabulous, fantastic, and amazing instead.  Give them attention and approval for their very being.  Accept their disconnected content and offer them a compliment.  Don’t tune out; rather, pay attention to what they are saying.  Give them deadlines and frequent reminders about tasks you are expecting them to complete in a timely manner or appointments they are meant to keep.  Learn to appreciate their fun and carefree communication style.

Perfect/Proper Melancholy – The Thinker

If you are perfect or proper melancholy, focus on thinking and speaking positively.  If you are communicating with people who do not share your personality type, limit the details.  Other personality types find numerous details overwhelming and honestly — boring.  Watch for opportunities to build up others by celebrating their small victories.  Adjust your expectations.  You must come to terms with the fact that there is no perfection on this earth.  Receive compliments graciously.  Do not point out the flaws when it is not absolutely necessary.  Practice giving praise and making positive observations rather than criticisms.  Add appropriate humor when you can or at minimum, smile.

If you are communicating TO perfect or proper melancholy be sure now is a good time to talk.  Do not interrupt their schedule, activities or communication.  Respect their time, space, silence and schedule.  Do not be nosy or pry for information you don’t really need.  Give factual, orderly details.  Save chit-chat for the sanguines in your life.  Laugh and cry with the melancholy.  Do not try to jolly them up.  Prepare your thoughts before you speak with them.  Know what you will say.  Learn to appreciate their structured and respectful communication style.

Powerful Choleric – The Doer

If you are powerful choleric, relax.  I know this hurts, but in most situations we are not as important as we’d like to think.  Other people are quite capable without us.  Our intensity scares people.  Stop making demands and start requesting desired actions.  Practice saying “please” and “thank you.”  Good manners are not a waste of time or a given.  You need to practice proper manners like everyone else.  Be careful of your tone.  Often you sound much more harsh than you intend and it is highly offensive.  When you sense you have been offensive, say you are sorry and mean it.  Show that you mean it, by changing your tone and allowing the other person to share their feelings.  Focus your interest and attention on the person, not the project.  Try to be still.  Do not pace or leave when someone is trying to talk to you. Slow down and actively listen without cutting them off.  Do not finish other people’s sentences or stories.  Read the rest of the letter or document.  Broaden your areas of interest.  And remember, just because you can, does not mean you should.

If you are communicating to powerful choleric, hurry up already.  Cholerics believe they are the busiest.  So, keep communication short and to the point.  Give the choleric the bottom line first in the form of sound bites.  This allows them room to jump in — and they will.  Only offer details and supporting information if asked or if it is critical.  Accept their curtness.  Cholerics are never trying to be rude; they are just very project focused.  Give them appreciation for their achievements and credit for their hard work and solid ideas.  Learn to admire their quick decision making ability and limitless energy.

Peaceful Phlegmatic – The Watcher

If you are peaceful phlegmatic we want to hear from you!  Practice expressing your opinion.  Make decisions and try to present choices.  Speak truth in love.  Think through presentations or formal speaking opportunities in advance.  Do not try to “wing it.”  Do not hesitate to share your ideas.  Practice speaking up in volume and content.  Show enthusiasm with body language and facial expression.  Often, you are misunderstood or dismissed because others interpret your casualness as apathy.  It is up to you to make us believe and perceive that you do care.

If you are communicating to peaceful phlegmatic show respect.  Look for the positive and freely give praise.  Give a few choices rather than an open ended question.  Learn to say, “I appreciate you because _______________ (attribute).”  Give the phlegmatic focused, not distracted, attention.  Wait to speak until they are completely finished.  Be patient.  Do not make them feel run over or ignored.  Learn to appreciate their listening ear and calming presence.

These communication how to’s will transform relationships because they work to meet the emotional needs of each person.  People do not listen to you or care about how much you know until they feel that you care about them as an individual.  Start communicating with this perspective, adjusting your approach to speak their language and things will improve.  I guarantee it!

In case you need a refresher, here are the basic emotional needs of each personality:

Sanguine  (yellow) : Attention from all, Affection (touching), Approval of every deed, Acceptance “as is”

Melancholy (blue) : Sensitivity to their feelings, Understanding, Space to be alone, Silence (no people)

Choleric (red) : Loyalty, Sense of Control, Appreciation for all their hard work, Accomplishment

Phlegmatic (green) : Peace and quiet, Feelings of Worth, Lack of Stress, Respect for who they are, not what they do

 


Personalities and Marriage

Great relationships take work.  Accept the fact that relationships; whether they be marital, parental, companion or co-worker, are not easy to maintain.  In fact, good relationships are hard to keep.  However, we must never equate hard with bad.  Great relationships are worth fighting for.

Always, when I present the basics of personalities, people are curious about how personalities affect their relationships, usually with their spouse.  They want to know if “opposites attract” and what that may mean for their marriage.

I am pleased to be able to share that my husband, Nathan, and I have a fantastic marriage.  While we certainly are not perfect people and we have our struggles, we agree that knowing personalities and understanding emotional needs gives us a unique perspective on our relationship.  We both have a rich appreciation for the strengths we possess as individuals, which helps us truly love and respect one another.  We are a team.  I encourage any married person or anyone considering marriage to study personalities.

Here is a brief overview of how relationships work based on personality type.

SHARED SPACE

The “easiest” and most common relationships seem to be when the couple shares some personality space.  In other words, you and the person you are in relationship with have one color or square of the personality chart in common, but are not totally alike.  Those commonalities in behavior and expectation make the relationship easier because you naturally understand certain things about one another and are likely to have the same reactions to life circumstances.  Having your secondary personality color or square differ provides just enough balance to keep the relationship interesting.

The Popular Sanguine Relationship (yellow) – FUN!  ADVENTUROUS!  SPONTANEOUS!  Need I say more?  When two sanguines get together, it seems the fountain of fun will never run dry.  My brother and his bride are both the popular Sanguine.  I wish I would have counted how many people referred to the word “fun” at their wedding.  They were both glowing with happiness. Sanguine marriages are exciting and fresh.  Both parties are flexible, compromising and forgiving which makes for a happy relationship.  As parents, this pair loves to play with their children and relishes in making fun memories.  However, as we all know, there are moments in life that are just not exactly fun.  When the fun fades, the sanguine relationship is in danger.  Sanguines must learn how to deal with the difficult times and the fact that adult responsibilities do exist and must be handled properly.  Sometimes, planning is necessary for success and decision-making.  Together, this duo must learn how to navigate and overcome adversity.  They must learn time management, what it means to commit and how to follow the rules.  They must learn how to have fun without money and when other “not-as-fun” people are involved.  If you are in a sanguine relationship that is struggling, go have fun together.  Act a little crazy and the spark will be rekindled.

The Perfect Melancholy Relationship (blue) – When the melancholy square is the shared space the relationship tends to be well organized and private.  Time spent together is well thought out and properly placed on the calendar.  As a couple, these two have plans for provision, education and vacation as well as a timely budget or strategies for the budget in place.  The home is neat and orderly and bills are always paid on time.  As parents, this pair is loving and very protective of their children.  They have a difficult time allowing their children to take risks or try things that are unfamiliar.  The liabilities of this relationship are high expectations.  Unrealistic standards often put a heavy burden on the relationship and it may become difficult for either person to feel perfect enough.  It may be tempting to become critical of one another and difficult to forgive and forget when the other person creates a mess.  If you are in a melancholy relationship be willing to accept delays, mishaps and changes in the plan.  Work together, but be careful not to isolate yourselves from extended family and friends.  Take time away from your normal routine to enjoy one another’s company and your common love for the arts or nature, without any rules or expectations.

The Powerful Choleric Relationship (red) – Out of the way!  Two cholerics will be working to change the world, or at least their own.  This couple is on the move, going places, doing things, seeing people, getting things done…in a word; ACTIVE.  This couple will be goal-oriented and productive.  “Down time” is spent on the next project and together this team is unstoppable.  As parents, cholerics are firm and motivating.  They will not tolerate laziness for long and are quick to correct.  As a married couple, these two will find themselves competing for control and for one another’s time.  Working on any relationship is too easily put off for working on work.  Be careful not to become competitive with one another.  Focus on supporting and respecting each other’s ideas.  Make time to relax.  But, realize that most of your bonding will occur as you work side by side and see accomplishments come as a result of your hard teamwork.

The Peaceful Phlegmatic Relationship (green) – Two peaceful phlegmatics simply have it made.  They are generally at peace with one another and have a relaxed relationship.  They don’t tend to pressure one another to change or do…well…anything.   As a couple they are open to whatever.  As parents they are very patient with their children, but must work to maintain control over them.  Strong-willed children will just take over the home.  The reality of life circumstances are often stressful and managing a home, children and careers can easily become overwhelming for this pair.  If you are in a peaceful phlegmatic relationship you must work extra hard on communication, planning and setting boundaries.  Naturally, conflict is avoided.  So, working through problems, making decisions and sticking to a plan are difficult at best.  Phlegmatic couples are a great example for the rest of us, though, on how to be accepting, content and satisfied in a relationship.

OPPOSITES ATTRACT – When no commonalities in personality exist.

If the relationship is Powerful Choleric/Perfect Melancholy with Peaceful Phlegmatic/Popular Sanguine, the pair is a nice balance.  Some common ground exists because both people are part extrovert and part introvert giving the couple flexibility and a way to connect.  Easily, the couple will recognize their differences and have great potential to really appreciate those differences.  This is the scenario where one truly compliments the other.

If the relationship is EXTROVERT vs. INTROVERT or Sanguine/Choleric with Melancholy/Phlegmatic, the work begins.  This marriage can be very successful and fulfilling, but requires tremendous understanding.  Remember, one person is turbo-charged and energized by people, while the other is sucked dry by people and wants to go home.  This relationship will take some serious negotiating from both parties.

However, when opposites do attract the couple has a unique opportunity to create a well-rounded lifestyle and relationship that other couples struggle to find.

TOO MUCH ALIKE 

Not as common, but occasionally, people of the same personality are drawn to one another, fall in love (basically with them self) and get married.  Interestingly, it seems these marriages or lifestyles often require more attention than others because of the lack of balance.  And, by nature, two choleric or two melancholy personalities in a close relationship may need the most work of all.

The marriage will tend to have an extreme tilt.  For example if two choleric people marry, there will likely be an “abnormal” amount of conflict.  In order to tilt the marriage back to a healthy or normal range, practicing good conflict resolution becomes crucial.  Usually, one person in this relationship will have to learn to relinquish control to make peace and they begin to look a bit less “choleric.”  On the other extreme, in a relationship where both people are peaceful phlegmatic, conflict is completely avoided and lack of communication may become a serious issue.  In order for there to be progress in the home, one will be forced to step into the role of planning, making decisions and being more productive than their natural tendencies.

I think in most relationships where both people share a majority of personality traits, one person, for the sake of the relationship and general lifestyle, will step outside of their natural personality and learn to take on new traits to compensate for what is naturally off balance.  As a result, some people may even transform into what seems to be a much different person than they were when you married them.  The transformation may be just what you hoped for or it may leave you feeling unsure about the person you married.  Recognizing why change was required will help you appreciate the way your spouse has adapted to living with you.  Remember, change can be a positive thing, but the originalpersonality is still deep within and the corresponding emotional needs still apply.

SINGLE?  For those of you who are single, you may wonder, “Do I need a significant other to feel complete and have balance in my life?  No.  Marriage is not the only relationship.  There will be plenty of other people in your life who create that balance you need.  A phlegmatic male will find motivation from his choleric mother.  A choleric female will be humbled by her boss.  Sanguine singles will eventually settle down and seek advice from a grandparent.  A melancholy man will learn to relax as his co-workers drag him to office parties.  Just living with family, co-workers and friends will make you aware of differences in personality and you will naturally experience the fullness personalities bring to all human relationships.  Thankfully, as human beings, we have the intellectual ability to learn, change and take on strengths of other personalities so that we can access our own reserves of hidden potential, single or not.

Anyway, back to the main point for this month…

To summarize, what is important in our relationships: don’t try to change the one you chose.  We chose our spouse because there was something about them we couldn’t live without.  We loved that “it” factor.  The “it” factor, my friends, is probably their personality — who they are and how they are wired.  Amazingly, whatever the thing was that drew us to them in the first place is the thing we end up being most annoyed by later.  Accept your differences.  Appreciate what makes your spouse unique.  Work hard at giving them the gift of meeting their emotional needs and your relationships will bring you great joy.

In case you need a refresher, here are the basic emotional needs of each personality:

Sanguine  (yellow) : Attention from all, Affection (touching),Approval of every deed, Acceptance “as is”

Melancholy (blue) : Sensitivity to their feelings,UnderstandingSpace to be alone, Silence (no people)

Choleric (red) : Loyalty, Sense of ControlAppreciation for all their hard work, Accomplishment

Phlegmatic (green) : Peace and quiet, Feelings of Worth,Lack of StressRespect for who they are, not what they do


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