This article is the second in a four-part series where Laraine Bennett examines how to relate to spouse of a different temperament. This month's installment looks at the sanguine.
…Tigger told Roo (who wanted to know) all about the things that Tiggers could do.
“Can they fly?” asked Roo.
“Yes,” said Tigger, “they’re very good flyers, Tiggers are, Stornry good flyers.”
“Oo!” said Roo. “Can they fly as well as Owl?”
“Yes,” said Tigger. “Only they don’t want to.”…
“Can Tiggers swim?”
“Of course they can. Tiggers can do everything.”
A.A. Milne, The World of Pooh
Are you dating an effervescent, enthusiastic, and extraverted sanguine (to find out, see my earlier article, Your Sparkling Sanguine Suitor)? If so, you may be wondering: can this possibly last? (Of course, if you are melancholic, you may be wondering: will he eventually drive me crazy?)
As Scripture has it, with God, all things are possible.
Your sanguine spouse is the life of the partay! He is talkative, fun-loving, optimistic, and generous. He places a high priority on relationships and enjoys hosting, entertaining, volunteering, and networking. Always up for something new, your sanguine spouse loves a spur-of-the-moment adventure — whether traveling to a new city, meeting new people, or discovering a new idea. He connects well with children — probably because he is a big kid himself.
On the down side, a sanguine can be impulsive, attention-seeking, scattered, and forgetful. He always prefers something new and exciting to the same old same old (especially the boring details). His warmth and personality serve the sanguine so well, that sometimes he can forget that “charm” doesn’t solve all problems. His cheerfulness and optimism are a great boon to a relationship — unless there is a genuinely serious issue to face. The sanguine wants to look only on the bright side, which can sometimes frustrate his partner who would like, on occasion, to discuss a serious issue or problem. Because the sanguine believes everyone should love him (all the time), he can be rather thin-skinned when it comes to criticism. He is likely to divert attention away from the problematic issue by being funny, telling a story, or otherwise distracting you.
Full disclosure here: the sanguine can be very tempted by all that is glamorous and glitzy. Combined with the sanguine impulsivity, this tendency can wreak havoc with a bank account! Indeed, the popular and fun-loving sanguine can try a spouse’s patience — especially when it is time to settle down, maintain a solid work ethic, and attend to the more routine details of raising a family.
Still, the sanguine is usually a creative and energetic breadwinner. On the job he likes to be a flurry of activity — that may or may not be entirely productive. He loves to have a finger in every pie (sometimes to the annoyance of his less flamboyant colleagues) and he will charm and inspire his co-workers with his creativity and Big Plans — though sometimes he won’t have the perseverance, attention to detail, or time to carry them all out. Of all the temperaments, sanguines are the most likely to job-hop; sometimes they just can’t resist the allure of new opportunities, friendlier people, or more money just around the corner!
The sanguine can be demonstrative and sensual, but also can move quickly from hot to cold. The sanguine wife will be warm and generous, emotional and impetuous…but then in a flash she can be just the opposite. A sanguine husband needs to cultivate the virtues of temperance and self-control, or he may be easily led (or misled) by superficial physical attractions or the emotions of his heart. Both male and female sanguines are eager to please their loved ones, but can also unintentionally mislead others with their innocently flirtatious and open manner with the opposite sex.
Opposites often attract and, as a result, the fun-loving and optimistic sanguine often falls in love with a deeply thoughtful, serious, and somewhat pessimistic melancholic. And what initially attracts can over time become a source of …annoyance. After the initial romance (during which time we’re usually on our best behavior and most tolerant of each other), the extroverted sanguine might begin to resent her introverted spouse’s lack of social interests. The more introverted spouse begins to long for peace and quiet in the home. It is helpful to remember that compromise “makes nations great and marriages happy.”
When it comes time for kids, you’re in luck. Kids love a sanguine parent—he is rarely punitive or repressive. He’s playing baseball with the kids, digging in the sandbox with the toddlers, and baking cookies. Sanguine parents volunteer abundantly at their children’s schools, going beyond ordinary lunch duty or bake sale donations to driving the activities bus, renovating classrooms, substitute teaching, and coaching.
But like most temperamental qualities, this can be a mixed blessing. When serious child-raising problems arise, the sanguine parent may be tempted to gloss over them, hoping that his usual big smile, pat on the back, optimistic outlook will do the trick. When more is required, especially deep soul-searching on the part of the sanguine himself, the solution may be harder to come by. It may also be a struggle for sanguines to connect with a quiet, reticent (usually melancholic) child. A sanguine parent may take over and “speak for” a shy child, forcing him into social situations – usually with counterproductive results. Or, he might overwhelm a more introverted child to the point that the child gives up even trying to develop his own personality.
The pure sanguine temperament is remarkably forgiving, relationship-oriented, and supportive—a recipe, you might think, for self-giving in marriage! There is, however, that little sticking point, the Cross. Sanguines are wonderfully generous, open and forgiving…until the going gets tough. That’s when the sanguine goes shopping! Or out to eat, or to the movies.
If you are the sanguine in this relationship, you should (and your partner will love you for this) develop the difficult virtue of perseverance and strive always to do everything out of love for Christ. Lasting joy and true peace will be yours, when you take to heart Christ’s admonition to “deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Lk 9:23).