Almost every profession has what we call the tools of the trade, and with marriage it isn’t any different. If you’re single, engaged or a newlywed, you need to have the tools it takes to build a successful marriage. Yet for many of us even when the chosen and kallah classes are over, they still find it difficult to use the tools that they have just learned. This is because marriage can bring out the best in us, and it can also bring out the worst in us. A person’s self is a complicated energy source with great potential for interpersonal and emotional growth. But if you don’t know who you are, how can you know some one else? It stands to reason that the more tools you have to obtain self awareness the more possibilities you have for a better and more satisfying relationship.
How do you acquire the tools for self-awareness? Interestingly enough you don’t the tools acquire you! At birth, Hashem provides each and every one us with four sets of tools, which we call preferences and non-preferences. Preferences means the way we naturally prefer to do things. Non-preferences means the way we naturally prefer not to do things.
Noted psychologist, Carl Jung, explains that the four sets of tools are set up like a scale:
Extravert vs. Introvert
Sensing vs. Intuition
Thinking vs. Feeling
Judging vs. Perceiving
Everyone uses both sides of the scale from time to time. Yet the side of the scale you feel most comfortable with will determine an important aspect of your personality.
It’s interesting to note that when we choose a mate, we often have an unconscious attraction to our opposites. The chemistry or friction that happens between opposites is often a desire to complete the missing parts of ourselves.
Rav Shternbach, shlita, states that an ‘ezer k’negdo’ is the man’s opposite and that if the woman’s nature is different from that of her husband, then she complements him. She is his helper. If, however, their personalities are similar, if their character traits are alike, then they will end up maintaining the same weaknesses and, in all likelihood, their opportunities for individual growth will be stunted. In a marriage, the ideal is for two people with contrasting or differing characteristics to join together and build upon one another’s strengths, very much like a puzzle where each of the pieces fit into place to form a complete mosaic.
As a four part series, “Who Am I ?”, I will begin with Preferences 1. Extravert vs. Introvert.
Extravert: People who prefer extraversion tend to focus on the outer world of people and external events. They direct their energy and attention outward and receive energy from external events, experiences, and interactions.
Characteristics of most people who prefer extraversion:
Attuned to external environment
Prefer to communicate by talking
Learn best through doing or discussing
Breadth of interests
Tend to speak first, reflect later-(thinking out loud sometimes get them into trouble)
Sociable and expressive
Take initiative in work and relationships
Introvert: people who prefer introversion tend to focus on their own inner world of ideas and experiences. They direct their energy and attention inward and receive energy from their internal thoughts, feelings, and reflections.
Characteristics of most people who prefer introversion:
Drawn to their inner worlds
Prefer to communicate by writing
Learn best by reflection
Depth of interest
Tend to reflect before acting-they are often reserves, quiet and need time to think things over (they may get annoyed by the extravert need for verbal communication)
Private and contained
A good example is a past case study of mine regarding an extravert married to an introvert. Breindy and Naftoli*, a young couple married for just over a year, tried to talk about their frustration, but their inability to reach each other only led to more frustration and misery. At 2:00 o’clock in the morning, they came banging at the door of their rav’s house. Breindy, in the heat of anger, insisted that he should prepare a Get (divorce) right there and then! When the rav finally calmed the couple down, Breindy stated, “I can’t live with someone who never says “I love you”! Naftoli then responded, “Must I verbalize everything? It should be understood.” Breindy did not know that Naftoli’s personality type tends to be reluctant to share inner thoughts and feelings. Naftoli did not know that Breindy’s personality type needs verbal communication to establish closeness and intimacy.