Topic 1: Self-Knowledge

In marriage, we are called to give ourselves completely to one another, but we can’t give what we don’t have. We have to know ourselves in order to fully give ourselves to each other. As Psalm 139: 13-14 reminds us, God made us unique, and knows us individually. Developing a mature knowledge of self will help us discover how to learn more about our spouses.

During the workshop, we invited you to take an inventory on the Four Temperaments. While Temperaments theory isn’t the most-used way of understanding ourselves, it’s a helpful way to identify some natural dispositions that we bring to our relationships. Each of the four basic temperaments are further detailed below. If you’d like to re-take the inventory, you can find it on page 10 in your workbook. The toggles below list some of the tendencies for each type, as well as some susceptibilities that we can work to avoid, and be gracious about with each other when they manifest in our lives.

Temperament: Choleric

The choleric person is also referred to as “The Worker” type. Stereotypically, the choleric person is:

  • Assertive about their position in a workplace or community
  • A “born leader” who seems to naturally assume positions of responsibility over others
  • Decisive when weighing options and making choices
  • Confident about who they are and the decisions they make
  • Quick to react to situations that emerge
  • Focused on achieving goals

The choleric person can have some susceptibilities to be aware of:

  • Their self-assurance could lead to arrogance or pride
  • They might overlook the needs of others when making decisions, or be inflexible in accommodating others
  • Their confidence might make them be or appear to have little sympathy or empathy for others
Temperament: Sanguine

The sanguine person is also referred to as “The Talker” type. Stereotypically, the sanguine person is:

  • Extroverted and ready to spend time with others
  • Optimistic, ready to see the positive side of things
  • Spontaneous and eager for fun experiences
  • Enthusiastic about ideas, events, and ways of making connections with others
  • Generous with their resources

The sanguine person can have some susceptibilities to be aware of:

  • They can be impulsive in their decision making
  • They can say “yes” too easily, and over-commit on responsibilities
  • They can be unrealistic about what it will actually take to accomplish something
  • They can be unreliable or irresponsible about following through on too many promises made
Temperament: Melancholic

The melancholic person is also referred to as “The Thinker” type. Stereotypically, the melancholic person is:

  • Reflective and thoughtful about their life and work.
  • Organized, detail oriented, and industrious
  • Conscientious about meeting expectations
  • Idealistic, with high standards about how things “should be done”
  • Sensitive and perceptive of the needs of others

The phlegmatic person can have some susceptibilities to be aware of:

  • They may focus on the negative, tending towards pessimism
  • Their reflectiveness could make them moody, over-brooding on hurts or wrongs
  • They might be indecisive if a decision can’t be seen as the ideal or perfect answer
  • They might have difficulty working with others, expecting everyone be as industrious as they are
  • They may be overly compulsive or anxious about small details
Temperament: Phlegmatic

The phlegmatic person is also referred to as “The Watcher” type. Stereotypically, the phlegmatic person is:

  • Calm and in control of their emotions, even under pressure
  • Cooperative and good at finding common ground so that as many people as possible can be happy
  • Logical, rational, and systematic in thinking about how things are interrelated
  • Patient and non-reactive
  • Flexible and adaptable to changing circumstances and situations
  • Analytical and careful to consider things to understand them better

The phlegmatic person can have some susceptibilities to be aware of:

  • They can be unmotivated to start a new activity or initiate changes in the status quo
  • They can be complacent, keeping things the way they are and not always being aware of needs
  • They can tend toward sluggishness or procrastination
  • They can be unassertive, avoiding conflict to keep peace in the system
  • They can be unengaged, appearing/preferring to be distanced from conflict
  • They can be apathetic, showing indifference or little to no emotion
Growing in Virtue and Avoiding Vice

Who we have become through our nature and the way we were nurutred does not have to end with acquiring self-knowledge. It would be easy to settle here and say, “This is who I am, and who you’ll be dealing with throughout our marriage.” However our faith calls us further, to grow in virtue and avoid vice so that we can love each other well.

What is Virtue in our faith tradition?

A virtue is a habitual disposition that points us toward doing good. We can develop acquired behavior patterns that – in any circumstance – support our doing true good spontaneously and intelligently. The more we do something, the better we become at it – it’s not just true for our work and hobbies, but also for our decision making. In the Catholic tradition, we highlight seven virtues:

  1. Prudence: Both knowing what is good and doing it, applying judgment to our actions
  2. Justice: Offering the fair treatment due others, both God and neighbor
  3. Fortitude: Persevering through difficulty, sometimes courageously so
  4. Temperance: Practicing self-restraint and moderation
  5. Faith: Belief in God and the revelation of God to us through Christ, the Word of God
  6. Hope: Trusting that God will give us all we need for our good
  7. Charity: Loving others as a reflection of the love that God has shared with us
What is Vice in our faith tradition?

Vices are the converse of the virtues – they are patterns of seeking things that are not good, harmful to our relationship with God and our relationships with our neighbors. They can be destructive in marriage and family life, and keep us from loving well. We identify seven in our faith tradition:

  1. Pride
  2. Greed
  3. Envy
  4. Anger
  5. Lust
  6. Gluttony
  7. Sloth (or laziness)
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