I write extensively on our natural Temperament; but as a Christian I must make the point that all of our efforts in the natural cannot overcome the natural weaknesses each temperament type has.
Let’s look at a letter from a wife with a Melancholy (detailed, analytical) temperament:
I am in need of advice and I have searched everywhere to find nothing that fits my situation. The information I found on several sites that were submitted by you were the first glimmers of hope I have found in years.
I am veteran/working professional now stay at home mom of three. My husband is a veteran and now working professional in a highly demanding company. We live in a high stressed area near our nation’s capital.
I am just beginning to understand my husband and my personality types. His a ChlorMelSan (Choleric Melancholy) and I am a MelChlor (Melancholy Choleric).
We have been married for 12 years and it has been an uphill battle off and on all the way. We are alike in many ways, but then our differences are so strong; I often wonder what is the real key.
In spite of his cool qualities that can be hurtful at times, I would not change him even if I could because every thing in him is what makes him unique in God’s Kingdom.
I believe that if I could learn how to effectively communicate with him at all times, according to God’s word, that our relationship would be a blessing to both us and all those around us.
Thank you in advance for your time and advice on this matter.
And I reply:
I do not know whether I can be of help or not; I will give you my thoughts for what they are worth.
A Choleric Melancholy is one of the most difficult temperament blends to live with. I do not say this critically; it is simply a fact. A Choleric is hard driving, straight-ahead task-oriented with little concern for the feelings of those in their line of travel (metaphorically – their line of travel through life).
A Melancholy is detailed and analytical but with a strong critical edge. I have had Choleric Melancholy types email me saying they didn’t like anyone; even themselves.
In a marriage this is often reflected in the interaction between husband and wife. A Choleric Melancholy will initially pursue his mate-to-be with the same drive and determination he uses in achieving any goal; but afterwards, other goals drive him.
Now the weakness of both types – anger in the Choleric and criticism in the Melancholy can assert themselves. These types cannot be classified as ‘sensitive’ in any way.
Your blend – Melancholy Choleric – is actually one that has the potential strength to handle a Choleric Melancholy. Your weaknesses – criticism and over-analysis and anger – may compound the troubles but there is strength there as well.
You ask about communication – a Choleric Melancholy wants straightforward, well-organized, task-oriented communication. This, however, is not highly conducive to pleasant marital communication.
Your email seems to indicate you are a Christian – my “solution” for ANY temperament problems is rooted in God’s way of doing things.
God created us with our natural temperament – He expects us to grow and change under the influence of His Spirit living within us. Too many Christians use the excuse “that’s just the way God made me” to excuse their natural weaknesses.
The solution to transformation (and that’s what our life in Him is – not being conformed to this world’s way but being transformed by the renewing of our minds) is found in Galatians 5:22.
Here are listed the fruits of the Holy Spirit – and each one, when taken into our lives and allowed to grow and mature, overcomes a natural temperamental weakness.
The Choleric needs love, kindness, gentleness and self-control to overcome anger. The Melancholy needs joy, patience and goodness to overcome a critical nature. The Phlegmatic needs peace and self-control to overcome worry and laziness. The Sanguine needs faithfulness and self-control to overcome a sloppy, unorganized life.
The key here is the part of the verse that says, “against these, there is no law”. Temperament is a natural law – the fruit of the Spirit overcomes these natural laws.
BUT (there’s always a ‘but’) it’s only as believers commit themselves to appropriate these fruits, accept them from God by faith as a gift, and allow them to grow, that they will begin to overcome the natural temperamental weaknesses.
I do not know if your husband is a Christian – but you can begin to seek to allow these fruits into your life (and hopefully he can as well).
You each must realize that in your natural selves you will always have friction – and you can learn natural ways to deal with them. But if one of you doesn’t see the need to change then change becomes more difficult.
I know I’ve rambled – if you haven’t yet, I’d refer you to my website www.halwarfield.com/articles and for further reading. I would also encourage your husband to read these as well.