My last post talked about the personality dynamics in the sanguine/melancholy couple. People tend to marry their opposite personality so today, we are going to explore the phlegmatic/choleric couple, and because this is the relationship I share with my husband, I have great insiders information into this relationship.
Phlegmatic personalities, which includes me, tend to be easy going, unobtrusive, and low energy. They are the most diplomatic of the four personality types and avoid confrontation when possible. Due to their ability to blend in with their surroundings they are the easiest of all the temperaments to get overlooked. However, they are reliable, great listeners, and are always ready to lend a helping hand in their own quiet way.
This is the most intense of all the personality types. These high-energy individuals are always on a mission. They make quick decisions, are confident, and have been known to run over people who get in their way. They are fiercely loyal and tend to approach life from a practical angle. At work they are the movers and shakers, and they tend to attack life with goals and gusto.
As with the sanguine/melancholy who, as opposites that attract one another, the same holds true with the phlegmatic/choleric combo. The phlegmatic is happy to move quietly through life without making too many decisions or demands. On the other hand, a choleric lives for the chance to decide things and take control. These traits of the phlegmatic and choleric are a natural match: the choleric naturally fits into the leadership role and the phlegmatic is happy to let it happen and function more as a support person.
One aspect of this that has characterized my marriage with my husband is in the area of home improvements. He sees a need and, voila, a new mission is born. I often take the quiet role and design or decide what the finished project should look like. Warren then turns into a home-improvement super hero and gets the job done. Several years ago when we moved into our current house I made a comment about knocking an exterior wall out in our master-bedroom out and replacing it with a sliding glass door leading to the back patio. The job was done (electrical work and all) within two weeks. My choleric, “can-do” husband is the envy of many neighborhood wives.
After 25 years of marriage the greatest challenge my husband and I have faced comes down to “relational” vs “task oriented”. As a phlegmatic I am a relational person who does not share my husband’s unending pursuit of finding and completing projects. I much prefer to get things done in a relaxed manner (or better yet, with a “tomorrow” attitude) while my hubby has a laser focus until the mission is accomplished. He gets frustrated with my “stop and smell and roses” approach. On the other hand, he frustrates me when I want to connect over a cup of coffee on the back patio and he’s running a hundred miles an hour on the treadmill! Seriously, only a choleric would choose to start the day sweating on a machine. Phlegmatic personalities like to ease into their day . . . choleric people have their day planned before their feet touch the ground in the morning and, when they DO roll out of bed, they are already moving at the speed of light.
Despite our differences, my choleric husband and I have learned to operate pretty well as a couple. I appreciate his mission-minded approach to life when he brings me a peanut butter cup from the store because I mentioned how good one would taste. Or, when when he cleans out the science experiments growing in the refrigerator when I don’t get around to cleaning it because “tomorrow” never comes in phlegmatic world for such tasks. He’s learned that I cannot process as much information at one time as is his custom and that I will probably never gets tasks completed with the speed and efficiency as him. It’s all part of understanding each others personalities.
©2012 Shona Neff