A Tale of Two Temperaments – Couples Counseling
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Now let’s look at how Mike and Lisa function as a married couple.
This is a classic case of opposites attracting. Mike is melancholy in inclusion. Lisa is sanguine. Mike is supine in control. Lisa is choleric. Mike is phlegmatic in affection. Lisa is sanguine. Their needs are like oil and water – they don’t mix.
Secular counselors might say that they are too different, and they would probably be happier if they went their separate ways. Biblically, though, we know there’s another answer. Although there are cases where divorce is advisable, this isn’t one of them.
Ephesians 5:25 commands husbands to love their wife like Christ loved the church. Since Christ gave Himself up without expecting the church to do anything first, this is where we start with Mike. He is called to understand his wife and to meet her needs to the best of his ability. This will mean stepping out of his temperament, putting his wife first, and making a sincere effort to give her what she needs.
That means that Melancholy Mike will need to put aside his preferences and take his wife out after a long day with the kids, no matter how much he would like to crawl in a hole. It means that he will need to make the effort to participate in decision making, and that he will need to push himself to initiate love and affection. If he wants to stay married, he can’t continue to ignore Lisa’s needs.
On the other hand, we would ask Lisa to understand and respect the way God created her husband. Although she would love to go out every night, that would totally exhaust him. His capacity for making decisions will probably never be as strong as hers. He has less emotional energy than she does and needs to work to initiate affection. There is nothing wrong with him – he is simply wired differently.
One thing that can’t happen is for either of them to use their temperament as an excuse. No one gets to say Well, that’s just how I am, take it or leave it. Our goal should always be to become more like Christ, and sometimes that happens by stretching ourselves to meet the needs of the people we love.
Mike and Lisa are about to make some changes …