We all have different personality styles. Sometimes we’re born with a particular personality, sometimes life shapes it for us. I’m (Daniel) the youngest of four boys. Typically the youngest is thought to be spoiled, not driven but lazy…you get the picture. However, I’m not that way. I’m not sure if I was born that way or created that way because of my desire not to be thought of as a typical youngest. On the Enneagram personality test, I’m a three, which is an achiever. I am a goal setter. If I don’t have a goal to reach or a project to work on, I am not in a good place. Being a driven person is all fine…until you get married!
The year our oldest turned one, I decidedto sign up and do an Olympic distance triathlon. I trained hard, and completed the race. That was my goal…to finish. After the race, I looked to Bonnie and said, “Ya know, I’m halfway to a Half-Ironman?” This wasn’t as much of a statement, as it was a question. Bonnie looked at me and said,” Um, we need to talk.” Men, you know it’s never good when your wife says that! Personal goal setting was fine when we didn’t have children. But now that we had a child, my personal goals were stealing time and money from my family. Not to mention the safety issue of biking on a busy highway. This situation forced me to ask myself, “Is my type A personality hurting my relationship with my wife?”
After a lot of soul searching and talking with Bonnie, I realized that I needed to slow down my appetite for achievement. So I did. Slowing down was great for Bonnie and the kids. They had more of me and more of my attention. However, I began to realize that after a while, it was killing me. Not having a bulls-eye on the wall as stripping me of the person God made me to be. I am a much better person, father, and husband when I am achieving and moving forward. I had to go back to the drawing board and continue soul searching. “God, how can I balance who you made me to be with the person my family needs me to be?” After much prayer, and over a few years, God showed me how to balance this.
First, when I can utilize my goal setting and drive to move my family forward, it’s better for everyone. It can inspire my wife and children to set goals and achieve them. It’s good for them to see Daddy doing something hard and finishing it, so they are willing to do the same. However, I had to realize that everyone doesn’t move at the pace I like to run. Instead of encouraging my family forward, I was bulldozing them, which eventually creates resentment. I needed to slow down and encourage them forward, not drag them forward. I also had to open my eyes and inspire them to dream their dreams, then help them accomplish them.
Next, I still wanted to achieve and set personal goals, but I had to do it in such a way that was healthy. If a personal goal drains my family’s bank account… it’s not healthy. If it steals precious time away from my children and my wife… it’s not healthy. I had to find ways to take some time for myself that didn’t leave my family wondering, “where’s daddy?” One example of how I accomplished this was when I went back to school for my Master’s degree. I included Bonnie in the process, and we prayed about it together. It made it an “us” goal, instead of a “me” goal. Bonnie felt that she’d rather me take a lighter load each semester, instead of loading up on classes to finish quickly. That way, I still have time for them. Also, I got up at 5:00 am every morning, and did my school work then. That way, I could be with my family after work until bedtime. Just these simple things helped keep balance in my life.
If you are a type “A” personality, God created you that way for a reason. However, we have to realize that unless we bring our drive and goal setting into a balance, it can destroy our marriage. My new goal is for Bonnie to love my goals because it makes me a better husband, not resent them.
Enjoy your adventure,