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Roots and Wings: Maximize Your Similarities and Appreciate Your Differences
By Yvonne Sinclair M.A.
When we are having a disagreement with our spouse, we may not want to recognize or acknowledge that the very basis for our disagreement is what attracted us to that person in the beginning. I am not talking so much about "opposites attract" as a difference in personality. Perhaps we are forgetting the positive feelings we had for just the personality trait with which we are now upset. We may, over time, decide this personality trait is just not so exciting. I would like to propose we take another look at the personality of our partner and of ourselves to explore those differences in a new light. I am proposing we can appreciate our differences and maximize our similarities. Instead of fighting over how we are different, use the differences in how we choose to be in the world to enhance our relationship.
Most of the time, I find the couples sitting on my couch awaiting counseling have one basic difference: one partner is the roots, and one partner is the wings. In other words, one partner prefers a predictable life revolving around schedules. The other partner likes to be spontaneous and open to new possibilities. Perhaps one is concerned about budget, and the other is not. One may want to create a home atmosphere that is decorative, and the other sees it as unnecessary.
In the beginning, these traits seem to be admirable, even enticing. As the relationship progresses, these very choices in life annoy us to no end. Don't despair! Some understanding and appreciation can actually provide a basis for loving the differences, or at least... appreciating them? Your differences may complement each other. Couples often fight over the differences to the death, meaning one must be wrong and the other one right. They do not consider they can both be right. They can agree to disagree and appreciate the differences instead of needing anyone different from themselves to be "wrong." If you understand how you are "different," then some of the right/wrong issues are resolved.
Let me explain. The "roots" are solid into life and looking around saying to themselves, "Sure could use some flying around! It's getting really boring stuck here." And the "wings" are flying around, perhaps, feeling insecure, so they look down and think, "Sure could use some roots for security." When they spy each other, it is like an answer to their prayers. "Whew, some wings to relieve my boredom," or, "Wow, some roots, here I come."
Then, the roots complain that the wings only want to be spur of the moment, no planning, and no structure. And the wings complain that the roots are just boring and too controlling. Sound familiar?
I am proposing that, as a couple, you discover your differences and similarities. Roots can then learn to appreciate the ability to fly, and wings can appreciate the security roots allow.
A personality test may help you discover your similarities and differences. A personality test reveals how you choose to exist in the world. Your personality profile will change over time because you will change over time.
I recommend the Keirsey Sorter II found on the internet. The same personality profile test is on Facebook, and it is called MyType. Both give you four letters. INFP or ENTJ, that sort of letters. The test will give you an explanation of the letters. Be sure you save the percentages. For instance, a 9/10 introvert will have much different needs and choices than a 2/10 introvert.
With the Keirsey Sorter II, you will receive a printout telling you your degree of four different personality patterns. There are two books to help you understand the letters: Please Understand Me-Character and Temperament Types by David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates' Gifts Differing-Understanding Personality Types by Isabel Briggs Myers.
Have fun finding out about yourself and your partner. Don't take yourselves so seriously. Utilize those differences. If you were a business, it would be beneficial to have someone good at customer service, and the other an expert accountant. In a romantic relationship, those differences can also complement each other. Let them!
©Copyright 2010 by Yvonne Sinclair M.A., MFCC. All Rights Reserved. All material is owned and protected. Reproduction without the express written consent of the author is forbidden.