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The minimum requirement for getting married

It’s a little after 11 pm at night. Karen is doing the bills and I’ve been booking flights on line. We both hate this detail work. It leaves us exhausted and yearning for the bed, but it has to be done and hey, we knew that neither of us were detail people going into the marriage. We married for…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

It’s a little after 11 pm at night. Karen is doing the bills and I’ve been booking flights on line.

We both hate this detail work. It leaves us exhausted and yearning for the bed, but it has to be done and hey, we knew that neither of us were detail people going into the marriage.

We married for fun and for romance and to change the world together – not bad reasons if you ask me. And somehow we get through evenings like this.

We understand each other and we know how to encourage one another.

I spend a lot of time trying to
understand the differences in people. I’m a temperament analysis fanatic. I can do the Myers/Briggs, Leading From Your Strengths, FIRO-B, DISC, and several others in my sleep. I can look at you and within five minutes tell you your an ISTJ and you would be good with data bases. I
do this in part because I can’t lead people effectively unless I can understand

Now that my kiddos are all of
marriageable age, this task of understanding people and how they fit with one
another has become particularly important.
We have these conversations at our house incessantly.

Last week a bunch of Talia and
Emily’s friends (Dmitri, Clint, Nicole, Kelly, & Dustin) came over to the
house. My girls met most of them working
at Medieval Times. They are all a lot
like Emily and Talia – life-of-the-party, fun, people-people – ENFPs that are 2% of the population. We grilled hamburgers, played volleyball, and
sang songs by the fire till after midnight.

And the question in the air is, “Would
any of these people who are so similar to one another be a good match?” The answer you read in all the books is, “No,
because you need opposites to make a good marriage. If one person brings the party, the other
person has to clean up the dishes. Not
everyone can tell stories late into the night; somebody has to wake up and fill
out the tax forms and pay the bills.”

For the most part, that’s a good
rule of thumb. Emily knows she needs a
practical man in her life – “someone to take care of me.”

But in this complicated and
way-too-worldly world in which we live, I’m beginning to wonder if maybe I
shouldn’t change my standard to Hebrews 10:24-25, which is the minimum standard
for church, “Let us not give up meeting together, but let us encourage one

If your marriage, friendship, or
church can do that over the long-term, then here’s my new precept: by all means get together. If on the other hand what you feel is mostly
discouragement or boredom, then perhaps you should not get married and keep
looking for other people to hang out with.

Assuming they keep their jobs at
Medieval Times, Emily and her friends can always hire some accountant to do
their taxes. Some repairman will show up
and fix the broken dishwashers. Regular
encouragement, on the other hand, is the least I expect of my future

*A corollary for those already
married is that (if you’re brave enough to do this) you can know whether or not you’re a good mate by asking your
spouse whether you regularly encourage him or her.

Comments (26)

  • I think that’s a very good concept. So much simpler to wrap your head around than doing a complex personality matrix.

    Are there really only 2% of us ENFPs?

  • I wonder how many people who comment will be part of the 2%…?

    When my wife and I were doing pre-marital counseling, we took some personality test (I don’t remember or care which one). She scored a “16” and I scored a “-16.” How’s that for opposites?

  • yep…i think that’s what i decided too dad (in all my worldly wisdom). I’d rather be with someone I laugh and enjoy life with than someone who can fix things. Isn’t that what happened with you and mom? love you!

  • I’m not one of the 2%

    But I love the advice(encouragement)here and I love the Barnes girls. And I know that I’m marrying the right man for me. Thanks for this one Seth.

  • I am an INFP (on the edge of INTJ) married to an INTP (who is on the edge of being an INFJ). Both our parents were married to opposites and both of sides divorced. Sure our house isn’t completely clean and our finances are not spectacular (we are learning by God’s graceHE is the perfect teacher and very patient with us). I think in general the opposites attract rule worksespecially if you are dealing with SP and SKthey need each other, but I find that NF’s specifically need like-minded people so they don’t think they are insane (spent years thinking something was wrong with me because the only people I could find like me were in bookslater I realized that that was because those favorite books were written by NF’s who also felt the way I did.:)) (BTWmy brother is an ENFP as was my best friendshe married an NT, and he is marrying an ENFJ and they really work well together.)

  • Ok Seth… I know I’m a “D” and a Lion with a huge splash of Otter, I even know M/B… but I can’t remember what @#$% (ENFP) I am… Could you please tell me and then explain why…

  • Forgive me as an ignorant soul, but what is an ENFP, INFP, ENFJ, etc. I’m abbreviation-illiterate. Thanks for the verse. I need to meditate on it and memorize it, put it into action more. I read the blog early this am, and subsequently said something to my wife which required a quick apology. Reading without doing…got to work on that.

  • Oh the joys of finding the perfect match. There can be a lot of pressure on finding the one personality that the book “Please Understand Me” says will work best for you. How do you guide someone in finding this match without pressuring them and inevitably pushing them away?

  • Goodness, this blog tapped into a wellspring of questions. A quick primer – there are four scales:
    E = Extravert and I = Introvert (how you need people)

    N = Intuitive and S = Sensory (how you take in info)

    T = Thinker and F = Feeler (how you make decisions)

    J = Judger and P = (how much structure you need w/ J needing lots)

    I happen to be the best type: ENTJ. That’s also the type that is most full of crap.

  • That was really good for me to read today. I think it’s applicable not only for marrages but for friendships as well. I want to be in friendships and eventually in a relationship that’s encouraging and uplifting, anything else would be boring! I’m greatful that you addressed the ENFP’s of the world, I didn’t realize that we are only 2%, wow!

  • Bahaha – Seth, you just made me laugh out loud with that last little explanation.

    I’m with the 2%, who knew we were such the minority? Glad to be in such good company though! 🙂

  • Thanks for answering my question about your type Seth- I would say your type is not quite the best, but close- (I am INTJ!:)

    My copy of Please Understand Me is well-worn, but my new favorite book on M-B personality types is called MotherStyles by Janet Penley. She takes the M-B types and breaks in down for moms.

    An EXCELLENT book for all moms! Very helpful and affirming to me and all who have borrowed my copy!

  • I took a Meyer Briggs test with a bunch of auditors. I finally figured out why I don’t fit in. I am an ENFP in an ISTJ workforce. But things sure have changed in the last 12 years. Plus our clients like an auditor with personality. (I just hate writing people up) Steve the Otter – I start many things well!!

  • wow… that was an encouraging blog… who said we have to go along with “the book”?!?! that was a good night around the fire! and i love being friends with a bunch of rare enfp’s!!!

  • we’ve been married for 16 1/2 years (shacked up for 18 1/2 years) but married in JESUS for only 13 1/2 years.

    what Pastor Seth shared is right on the money! my beloved and i are both musical and arty and impetuous and out there; and hopeless, unorganized slobs (he can fix stuff, though). we are joined at the hip on weekends. we’re best friends and lovers and joyfully in this for life.

    the first thing we have going is we are passionately committed to the Christ, Who is the Center and Goal of our marriage; the second is that we are *all* about encouraging one another, as well as our children, in and toward Him!

    good stuff!

  • Haha Steve I think you’re great!

    I agree with Talia’s first comment, and second for that matter…Sheesh, functioning as an ISTJ when you’re an ENFP has got to be..loco.

  • Seth,

    I think you did a great job here, you know sitting in a room with people, I could talk for hours, probably. Minimum requirement is certainly love – encouragement is an expression of that love. And I could write for hours about the truth of that and what that looks like (minimally and then how we encourage different people).

    I think Meyers Briggs comes into marriage in the same way it comes to team, not as a requirement, but as something that helps us understand our partner and our unique relationship. I often tell the story of when I talked to my mentor about marrying Andrew, an ISFJ, she nodded her head and kind of sighed, “Ohhhh.” I was a little heart broken, thinking she would tell me it wasn’t going to work. Instead she said, “He’s a duck.” She went on to explain that ISFJs glide over the water and look like everything is ok, all the time, and that it was difficult to tell when his feet are running. It would be important for me as his wife to learn when his feet are running under the water. She was spot on, and it has been such a helpful analogy in our marriage. It has also helped me as a team leader with ISFJs. I think it is a gift to have differences in personality and a greater gift to understand and use those differences.

  • Wow – 21 comments. Oops – make that 22. I thoroughly enjoyed this blog. Being kind of a Myers-Briggs fanatic, you really did bless me with this liberating blog – spouses should seek first to encourage each other, not find a good way to make the system “work.” Your treatment of marriage makes it sound less mechanical and more relational – I like that. As William Young says, “Marriage isn’t an institution. It’s a relationship.” Perhaps, a bit elementary, but that’s the kind of simple truth I really need to hide in my heart. My pastor says that marriage is a covenant, not a contract. The difference is that a contract limits your responsibilities (i.e I will wash dishes, vacuum once a week, and pick up kids…), while a covenant delimits your responsibilities (i.e. I am in this for life, come hell or high water). Blessings on you and Karen, as you seek to honor and bless one another. The love you have for the Lord, life, and each other is filling up and spilling out onto others around you both.

  • Jeff – thanks, that was very kind. We work these things out slowly together, not realizing fully at the time we make our decisions all that is at stake in the example we set. And, we’re still very much flawed human beings in a complicated dance where we step on each others toes!

  • Okay, I will probably have 2 million people offended by this, but I can’t help but find it interesting how passionate people can get about the Myers-Briggs when it is basically of the research level of a magazine quiz.

    Understand, I’ve found it mildly useful/helpful (I like being classified as rare and unique as an ENFP), but the helpfulness is essentially related to people just being more aware that not everyone is like them, and to account for differences in giftings.

    It is astonishing to the Christians I know who do extensive research and work in ‘typology’, that anyone would think to limit God’s creation to 16 types.
    Okay, okay, most know people spill out of the lines of these 16 different types, but the God of the universe who created us each uniquely and with such details as individual fingerprints is probably not served by boxing us into even 25-50 categories. (But the marketers of these tests have been served well with a multi-million dollar business they’ve carved out.) MB’s weakness it that it can make getting along with people a mental calculation instead of an authentic response to the individual.

    I admit to finding this stuff kind of fun, but statistically it is proven fluff (don’t egg me). Several studies have shown that when retested, even after intervals as short as five weeks, as many as 50 percent will be classified into a different type.
    Furthermore, no matter what your preferences, your behavior will still sometimes indicate contrasting behavior. And some parts of the profiles could apply to most people, a characteristic shared by other kinds of readings such as astrological or psychic readings. Thus, no behavior can ever be used to falsify the type, and any behavior can be used to verify it.

    MB analysts caution against flatly applying generalizations to individuals. It usefulness is mainly suppose to be confined to group/team situations. But most users treat that disclaimer as seriously as the fine print on an aspirin bottle. And when you treat me as category, you attempt to reduce me and objectify me. People resist being labeled—we deserve to be accepted as unique wholes.

    The deal with MBTI and other such assessments is that’s it’s like using a ruler to measure the depth of an ocean. Sadly, we only allow ourselves to see the “top 12 inches of another’s ocean” and then we think we “know” them, and with that we make all kinds of judgments, comparisons, and create stories based on this 12-inch measure.

    (Some of the thoughts/comments I have made above come from a number of web and written sources and are not uniquely mine. In other words, since I’m not submitting a paper, I’m not footnoting them here.)

  • Agree with Melinda! Gee whiz! My mom and dad were not the typical opposites -both were “I” – but when she died, I never knew a human being could grieve so deeply. He really loved her, was committed to her and faithful. He would die for her… He remarried another “I” and said how blessed he has been to have 2 “loves of his life”… Humans have more than letters to them…very scary when we Christians place ’email in a box…

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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