Friday, March 5th, 2021

R Shopper Columns


According to the Myers Brigs Personality Profile, I am an intuitive person. This means that I can be described with such terms as 'dreamer' and 'possibility thinker.' Early in our marriage, I would come up with what I would call 'great' ideas as to what our family could do or buy. 'Wouldn't it be great if we went to the Grand Canyon this summer!!!!?'

My wife, Karen, being more 'nuts and bolts,' would ask such questions as, 'How do you think we can afford to get there?'

I mistakenly interpreted her asking questions to mean that she was against my ideas. My thoughts were, 'She doesn't want us to go to the Grand Canyon. She doesn't want us to have fun.' Then I would shut down. She would ask me what was wrong and finally, I would say, 'You don't want us to go to the Grand Canyon.' This announcement would upset Karen.

Have you ever noticed how angry
or upset your partner can get when
you tell them what their intentions are?

Have you ever noticed how angry or upset your partner can get when you tell them what their intentions are? Notice how irritated your partner gets when you analyze or diagnose with such statements as, 'What's wrong with you is-' 'You don't really mean that.' 'You said that because you wanted to hurt me.' 'You don't care how I feel.'

Our partners will be angry because we are questioning their integrity. This is one of the issues that many of us struggle with in our relationships. We question our partner's integrity when we tell them what their intentions and motives were. The danger is our interpretation can move from being an interpretation to a fact or belief. Such a belief could be expressed by this statement, 'She never wants me to have any fun. All she wants to do is work.' So anytime our partner is asking questions or has another opinion or wants to clarify something, we can mistakenly form the wrong opinion because of our belief about who he or she is.

Karen, being a 'nuts and bolts' person,  was not against my idea. Her questions were about trying to help me figure out how we could make going to the Grand Canyon a reality. Her questions were for clarification. I needed to remember most women think in details whereas most men think in generalities; therefore, women will ask a lot of questions! The point to remember is when our partner asks questions, it doesn't mean he or she is against our idea. It may mean they are trying to help us get there.

It was important for me to remember that Karen's way of being is another one of her many gifts to our relationship. Since detail thinking is not one of my strong suits, it would be wise for me to listen to Karen!!!  I offer this suggestion to others who find themselves in my shoes!

Dr. William E. Austin is a licensed psychotherapist and holds a Doctor of Divinity degree. He is a therapist with Tidewater Pastoral Counseling Services . He is well known for his warmth and sense of humor. His book, Creating Our Safe Place - Articles on Healthy Relationships, can be purchased through

Tidewater Pastoral Counseling: 623-2700