How my husband and I make the most of our differing personalities

Myers-Briggs Editor
Myers-Briggs Magazine
8 min readAug 17, 2021

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By Maggie Oglesby

Opposites attract

We weren’t Top Gun’s Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis, but when my husband, Kent, and I met in Washington D.C. in May of 2003, he was a dashing Naval aviator flying tactical jets off aircraft carriers.

And I, like “Charlie”, was a civilian employee working with 4-star flag officers.

He was everything I wasn’t: cool, calm, and collected. Reserved. Chill. The strong, silent type. He lived up to his call sign, “Spock”: introspective, cerebral, and of course, logical. He was funny, too! Witty in a nerdy kind of way. And while not being overly animated or expressive, he had a calming effect on those around him. A warm sincerity. He never missed a buddy’s promotion or retirement ceremony. Everyone loved Spock.

Then there was me.

I was the “Type A”, mile-a-minute gal.

I even walked fast, and sometimes jogged down the halls in my heels and skirt suits in the Pentagon. I worked 14-hour days for the Department of the Army as an Executive Officer for the head of Personnel who oversaw 52,000 military and civilian employees. But in addition to my normal job duties, I connected with people. I knew their spouses, kids, grandkids, etc. When one of our employees dropped in the office from cardiac arrest, I hopped in the ambulance and rode to the hospital with her. My coworkers were like family.

Eventually, I left the Department of the Army for a highly respected consulting firm in McLean, VA. In time, I visited my old Army headquarters building as a consultant bidding for a contract, and I brought along a Senior colleague from my firm. When we returned to McLean to debrief to the team, I remember feeling embarrassed when he described our visit: “She’s a rock star at [the Army] headquarters! She knows everyone, and you should have seen how many times we were stopped in the hallways. Everyone wanted to say hi to Maggie and catch up.”

As you can see, my personality and Kent’s were quite different, but we were crazy about each other. We talked for hours on end about topics we both cared about deeply. Our politics aligned perfectly, our deep-rooted patriotism, and even our views on raising children all seemed to be in lockstep. Wow. This guy could be the one.

Trouble in paradise

But then, as time went on, our differences began to surface. This is a guy who waits seven days to find his lost Chapstick before buying a new one. By contrast, I have one handy everywhere it’s convenient: my car, my purse, my nightstand. Kent is a saver. I’m an impulse shopper. I’m all about big ideas and concepts, while he’s more data-driven and factual. I’m a bleeding heart; he’s logical. I love to plan out our weekend; he’d rather keep his options open and avoid too many “commitments”.

Gradually, more differences surfaced, and we didn’t seem like the perfect couple after all. Heck, I’m even an early riser, while he’s a night owl. In those early days, with his preference for Introversion, I couldn’t understand when he kept saying it “wasn’t personal,” but he needed his “me” time…time alone to himself to reflect and decompress.

Of course, being a “Feeling” type, this felt personal to me. “If he loved me, why wouldn’t he always want to be with me?” This was distressing to me, and instead of just being direct with him about my hurt feelings, in time, I questioned our compatibility. 3 years into it, we broke up, but quickly learned that being apart was not the right answer. We wanted to be together, but why was it so hard?

I was 36 years old, and Kent was 39, so despite our differences, we knew we loved each other and decided to marry in July 2007. Five moves and two children later, we spent the better part of 10 years learning how to live with each other — the hard way.

I desperately needed to talk things out after he’d been gone at work all day, while he just as badly needed quiet alone time to reflect and recharge after exhausting all the “extroverted” energy he had for the day. This was probably our biggest frustration point, and I eventually learned I needed to find someone else to vent to and brainstorm with. My sister, my aunt and my girlfriends would be the ears I needed. They helped me boil things down to a granular level. Then I could go to Kent with my ideas.

Yin finds yang

It wasn’t until roughly the 15-year mark that we learned Kent’s Myers-Briggs type: INTJ (he has many “P” qualities), was pretty much polar opposite of my ENFJ personality type. This came as no surprise, but finally, our differences were validated and explained.

The Myers-Briggs clarified all the hard lessons we’d learned as a couple through the years. The knowledge helped us fine-tune our strengths and appreciate our differences, and although we had learned so much about how to treat each other over the years, it was like we were solving the equation without the formula. The Myers-Briggs was the formula that helped us understand how and why certain tactics and solutions worked. And furthermore, how to avoid many problems in the first place.

We experienced 16 years of many happy memories mixed with challenges, hurt feelings, misaligned expectations. And then tapping into the redeeming knowledge that Myers-Briggs brought to us; our differing personalities were about to be tested. Big time.

“911. What’s your emergency?”

Tragedy hit our family when our son was suddenly hospitalized, and we were told it could be weeks before he would be released. We felt helpless. How were we going to cope with this? With me panicked and heartbroken, and Kent anxious and concerned, one would think our differing personalities would make matters worse. But instead, we pulled together, almost instinctively.

We divided and conquered: I took on the relationships, and Kent managed the structure and routine. Like two gears in a complex machine that was our family life, we interlocked as we took on this challenge together.

I didn’t know anything about this illness, and sure couldn’t become an expert fast enough. What could I do to help my son? I thought to myself, “Think, Maggie…what are you good at?” People. Relationships. That’s how I knew I could help.

I invested in the people caring for our son.

I dove right in by introducing myself to all his caregivers and making connections with them. I knew all the nurse’s and doctor’s names on every shift. I called regularly throughout the day to check on him and get status updates. I coordinated email updates with his doctors, school teachers, counselors, administrators, and babysitters. I made cookies and brownies to bring to the hospital as thanks for those caring for my child. His fate was in their hands, and I made it my job to ensure they knew how much we appreciated them. I also channeled my worry by finding ways to distract our son and make him feel loved.

As I spent my days in a perpetual state of panic, my mind spinning, occasionally breaking down in tears…Kent held it together. He had everything under control. His facts-driven approach to life for the most part, kept him grounded. While I was entrenched in the hospital side of things, he did the laundry, dishes, took out the trash, continued to pay all the bills, etc. He dealt with health insurance red tape, made all the time-consuming administrative phone calls, picked up prescriptions, and ensured our other son got to school and was taken care of. I was so relieved. He was my rock. Our rock. A well-oiled machine.

As the days went on, we each carried on like dutiful soldiers on a mission. But there was an eerie feel in our home. We both felt it. Something was off…yes…something was off…our son wasn’t there. We went into his room, surrounded by his favorite toys and stuffed animals and broke down in tears. But why were we crying? Our little guy wasn’t dead. He was safe and sound, recovering in the hospital, but our hearts hurt. We were under extreme stress and worry.

We had each other, our sons, and we knew we would get through this. And we did. All of us. We don’t have a perfect marriage, but we learned how to be “us,” and we continue to get better at it with each passing year.

Laughter is the best medicine

Fast-forward to this summer. We’re sitting on a beach in North Carolina at a mini family reunion enjoying the sun and sand. We’re watching both our healthy, happy boys boogie boarding on the waves as we sip our chilled beverages. I turn to Kent and say, “I like this, Kent. I want palm trees in retirement, don’t you? When can we retire? Where can we live that has palm trees? Can we buy a place, or will we need to rent? Must be somewhere people can easily visit us. Not Hawaii. Too expensive to live there anyway. Do you want to learn how to golf? I don’t, really. But I do want my girlfriends close by.”

I picked up my phone and started furiously researching retirement communities in Florida when Kent turned in my direction and said, “Hey Siri…call Becca”. And then to me, with a grin, he said, “Now throw your phone over there,” as he pointed to some empty chairs a few yards away. I burst out laughing and took the hint. My girlfriend, Becca, answered her phone because Siri had in fact called her.

We both had a good laugh while I went to fetch another cold one.

About the Author

With more than 20 years of professional experience in human resources, change management, organization design, business process reengineering, leadership development and team building, Maggie Oglesby can help you tackle your next people challenge.

She recently rediscovered her passion for the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and it’s ability to change lives. She’s seen enemies gain a mutual respect for one another, college kids stay in school, and couples see each other in a new light. The MBTI can be life-changing, and for her, there is no greater reward than to facilitate that self-discovery and awareness of others.

Maggie Oglesby

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Myers-Briggs Editor
Myers-Briggs Magazine

Marketing @ The Myers-Briggs Company virtually from Charleston, SC. #INFJ