Do you love goals and plans? Or do you hate being tied down, and love to be spontaneous?

This month, for Wifey Wednesdays, looking at personality differences, using the MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator). The MBTI figures out people’s personalities based on four different scales. I explained how MBTI and marriage work in the big picture in our first post in the series, and then we looked at the introvert/extrovert distinction, the big picture/detail person distinction, and the Thinker/Feeler distinction. Today, in the last post of our series, we’re focusing on the P/J distinction.

As an aside, this is the only distinction where Rebecca and Connor differ. She’s an ENTJ; he’s an ENTP. And reading the book Just Your Type about these differences had us both in stitches. She read it all to Connor afterwards, because it described them to a T!

What is the P/J Scale in the MBTI?

We talk a lot about extraverts vs. introverts and thinkers vs. feelers, but what most people don’t realize is that the difference that is the most prone to derail marriage is actually this one–judgers vs. perceivers.

I’m going to let the authors explain this:

As you are about to see, Judging and Perceiving have much to do with the way we like to run our everyday lives. As a result, many couples experience their greatest frustrations when they’re different in this type dimension.

One of the key aspects of Judging and Perceiving has to do with the issue of closure. Judgers like things to be settled and often feel a certain tension before a decision has been made. Since making decisions relieves the tension, they typically take in only as much information as is necessary to make a decision and then move on. By contrast, Perceivers feel tension when they are forced to make a decision. To alleviate that tension, they avoid making decisions and try to leave their options open as long as possible . As a result, they are often (but not always) prone to procrastinating. As you are about to see, Judging and Perceiving have much to do with the way we like to run our everyday lives. As a result, many couples experience their greatest frustrations when they’re different in this type dimension.

Yep! The P/J distinction is all about how we tackle little things in our lives. And it can be very grating when someone is different!

MBTI and Marriage: When Judgers Marry Perceivers

One of the great challenges is that we often assign morality to our own approach to the world. Judgers tend to think perceivers are irresponsible or lazy. Perceivers think judgers are “anal”, to put it bluntly. And so we start to think of ourselves as superior, when it’s really just a different approach to life.

Judgers are planners, and they like to be prepared. Because they expect a set plan to be followed, they often have a hard time shifting gears when the plan unexpectedly changes. By contrast, Perceivers often are hesitant to commit themselves for fear that if they do, they may miss some great opportunity that will come along later. Besides, Perceivers like to act spontaneously and usually adjust well to surprises.

How does this work in everyday life?

It’s very hard for most Judgers to enjoy themselves when there are still chores to be done or projects to be finished. By contrast, most Perceivers feel that there’s always more time, so why not relax or take advantage of some unexpected opportunity.

Can any of you see yourselves in that? One of you wants to get the chores done before you relax on a Saturday. The other wants to have fun!

Rebecca says: 

Throughout our marriage, this has been at the heart of every single fight we have had. I look around the apartment and see 74 things that need to get done before the weekend, 5 days away. Connor sees it as “Sweet! I have 5 days before I have to do those 74 things!” and happily plugs in his video game to enjoy his time off while I stew and clean, feeling oh so sorry for myself that my husband just expects me to do everything and not even lift a finger.

But that’s not actually what he’s expecting at all.

Our needs are very different. I have a need to feel like my life isn’t slipping out of my control, and he needs to feel free to enjoy himself without having to worry about me busting in and yelling at him to get everything done.

Our solution is two-fold. First, we have a list of must-do tasks that need to get done before any down-time. Every day, we must take the dog on two walks (I take the morning, Connor takes the evening), we must clean off the counters in the kitchen and put any used rags in the wash, and we must tidy the bathroom. But we also must spend some down-time together where I’m not talking about what we have to do tomorrow.

Then, when there are other things to get done, I make a list with a deadline. And the items on the list must get done by the deadline, but can be done any time within that timeframe. That gives me (the Judger) the reassurance that everything will get done and enough of a routine that life doesn’t get too overwhelming and it also gives Connor (the Perceiver) guaranteed “time off,” and (more importantly) time off together.

What happens when how you approach life is different than your spouse? We're looking at the J and P characteristics in marriage and what they can mean for you!

When Two Judgers Marry

I have bought two properties in my life in less than a 24 hour time span. In fact, when we bought the house we currently live in, I was talking to my daughters, then 12 and 10, at breakfast one morning about how I just didn’t see how we could possibly redo the kitchen and make it work. So we started browsing at real estate properties online. I found a house I liked. I phoned Keith; our real estate agent set up a viewing that afternoon. We made the offer that night. The day before we hadn’t even considered moving!

I once bought a rental property, too, in the space of about 24 hours.

Now, both decisions ended up being good ones, but the fact is that judgers make decisions VERY quickly, and if you’re not smart about it, that can lead to some really bad decisions. In fact, if both of you are Js, it will tend to exacerbate other areas where you are also the same. So if you are both Ts, for instance, then your J nature will cause you to potentially ignore other people’s feelings even more. If you are both Fs, your J nature may cause you to make decisions that are possibly monetarily foolish to make someone else happy, too!

The moral of the story: When two Judgers are together, it’s likely a good idea to make a pledge that you will not make a huge decision without sleeping on it, or at least deciding to pray about something for a few days, even if you are both are rock solid sure!

When Two Perceivers Marry

You love fun. You’re both spontaneous; you’re the life of the party; you love new experiences.

The problem, though, is that you may never get things actually finished. Your house will tend towards the messy side. You’ll likely be disorganized. And decisions will be very difficult for you. Though you’re spontaneous on a daily basis, making big, but necessary changes, like buying a house, moving, going back to school, or expanding your family, may be challenging for you.

It’s all the more important for you, then, to think about big picture things like goals, and then break those goals down into concrete steps. If you want to own a house in the next five years, how much money do you need to save now? Consider even bringing in a friend or another couple to help you stay on track with your goals.

Set up rewards for yourselves for when you accomplish tasks. You’ll never have a hard time having fun, but you may have a hard time getting things done. So turn your fun things into rewards. When you clean the house on a Saturday morning, you get to do something fun in the afternoon.

Make goals, set rewards–and you’ll be more likely to move ahead well!

Where are YOU, my readers, on the Judging/Perceiving scale?

In my Friday newsletters, I asked all through the month of July questions about personality types. You may be sensing a theme – because almost two thirds of the people responded (once again!) married someone who is their opposite in this regard. About 25% of folks who responded are both Judging and almost 10% are both Perceiving.

Since this is the last piece in the MBTI series – I just want to take a second to thank everyone who responded to the surveys we did on personality types. This whole series was inspired by an email question we sent out and the surveys leading up to it were really fun! You all are wonderful 🙂

You can receive my weekly newsletters (and my monthly round-ups, too!) by signing up right here. Subscribers get behind the scenes info, extra freebies and videos, chances to enter contests, and more!

That’s it for our MBTI and Marriage series.

I’m glad you’ve joined me and stuck with me this long, and if you’re just joining now, all the links to the other posts are below.

If all of this intrigues you, then pick up a copy of Just Your Type and take a look at how your individual personality type reacts to your spouse’s–and what you in particular need to see as your strengths and weaknesses together.

I really do find all this stuff awfully fun. It’s neat to know that there’s a reason that we may get annoyed at each other, or that we often tend to have the same kinds of conflicts. And when we recognize that reason, it’s so much easier to deal with it constructively.

So let’s talk! Where are you and your spouse on the P/J scale? What has struck you the most during this personality series? Let’s talk in the comments!

Posts in the MBTI Marriage Series:

MBTI and Marriage: An Overview
MBTI and Marriage: The Extrovert/Introvert Scale
MBTI and Marriage: The Intuition/Sensing Scale
MBTI and Marriage: The Thinking/Feeling Scale
MBTI and Marriage: The Judging/Perceiving Scale (this one!)

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