A few weeks ago, Smarmoofus inquired in a comment about the “wife of an INTP” blurb in my bio block here on ChezArtz. I had to laugh, because honestly I’d forgotten that I’d even put it there. But I promised to tell more, so here’s the story, a bunch of stuff about Myers-Briggs, and other thoughts about the ten years I’ve spent as the wife of an INTP.
Let me start this whole wild tangential post with a confession: the only reason that is even in my profile is in retaliation for a time when Matt was updating my image rotator a while back and put something that included the word “sexy” in my profile and I didn’t notice it for days.
So what is Myers-Briggs? Wikipedia has a great description of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicators for those who are not familiar, but this is a personality-typing test that was really popular when Matt & I first entered the workforce a few years back, and that is based on the work of Carl Jung. At any rate, you basically answer a bunch of questions and get assigned a four-letter code. As you have probably guessed, Matt’s is INTP for Introvert, iNtuitive, Thinking, Perceiving. This is an unusual personality type and, according to Matt (who has become as strangely obsessed with his personality type as I have!) is seen in the less than 5% of the population.
In what Matt would say is a typical example of my personality type, I had to ask him what my four-letter code was, but it’s E(xtrovert), iN(tuitive), F(eeling), P(erceiving), although I am close to center on both of the last two. This type is much more common than Matt’s. (Does that explain my complete and irrational horror of being considered prosaic? I think it may.)
So our differing personality types by no means make us incompatible, but some of the differences do ricochet between “opposites attract” and “he says toe-may-to, I say toe-mah-to…let’s call the whole thing off,” as the song goes. And I have, more than once, made despairing remarks about putting up with his INTP-ness, which prove (as if proof were needed) that I am both a dork and a weirdo. Oh well.
The coolest thing about knowing our personality types is that I picked up a book a while ago on personality typing your children called Nurture by Nature. This is not, let me clarify, to categorize them, but to help you know how to communicate with them and after my experiences with Matt, I’m happy for all the help I can get in terms of tailoring my communications based on who I’m communicating with!
Gabriel, unsurprisingly, is a complete INTP like his father. This means both that they will forever butt heads (is that the lot in life for every father-son pair? I think it might be) and that I have a 12-year head start on how to communicate with my son!
Lily, also unsurprisingly, is a completely odd mix of Matt & I that continues to baffle us with her opposing capacities for endless tenderness and volatility.
So what does this all mean? I think you know the Introvert/Extrovert part of it (and although some of you will argue that my talkative little Gabriel is not an Introvert, in many ways he is).
The next pair, iNtuition and Sensing, are a little more obscure, and apply to how information is gathered and interpreted. We’re both strong Ns, and S personality types are by far in the majority. My college friends, who lived through my semester of making all decisions based on Tarot cards, are slapping their foreheads and saying “Duh!” as if anyone would even question whether I’m an N.
Then you have Feeling/Thinking, which is how you make a decision based on the information you have already gathered. Do you operate on consensus & harmony (F), or on logic and a prescribed set of rules (T)? Due to my propensity to make every single decision in my life based on gut feeling, whether it’s buying a house, choosing a preschool, or meeting a new friend, I find myself in the F category, although I’ve got some T traits as well and am less touchy-feely than some Fs.
And finally, you have Perceiving/Judging. This one’s the hardest one for me to quantify, but Ps are willing to leave things more open-ended and Js like to have matters settled. I struggle with this, because I like to think that I’m flexible, but the truth of the matter is that not only am I a control freak, but because I make decisions within the first 30 seconds based on my gut, the matter is typically settled in my mind long before I’ve even been able to put words to it.
Jeez, and to think that I did NOT rate this blog as “confessional” when I filled out the Technorati “State of the Blogosphere” survey today. Smarmoofus, I think you got more than you bargained for!