How to Show Your Type A Spouse S/he is a Priority

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My friend, Katie Reid, recently published an article about "Type A" friend needs. As I read it, being Type A, my heart lurched at every single point. I responded to her Facebook post:

A thousand times "yes."

I admit: I love being Type A. I love how God fashioned my personality. I love productivity and efficiency. I love serving and planning and meeting people's needs. I am the queen of scheduling and family calendars and even meal planning, even though I loathe (absolutely loathe) cooking. I love setting goals and achieving goals. I also love winning and running and winning at running.

So much to love.

Although some of you who are not Type A may be gagging a little. Because you know the darker side of this side of the spectrum. You see the competitiveness, the non-stop drive, the work-based priorities, the restlessness, the people-pleasing, the unadmitted fatigue. 

If you are married to the Type A person, you see the ugly side more than most. And, chances are, you bear the brunt of the frustration exhibited by the Type A person when things aren't as expected/planned/perfect as desired.

I'm sorry. My husband has to deal with my crazy. He realizes a few things, though, and maybe you do, too:

  • Type A's are not exempt from the refining power of the Holy Spirit. They may look like they have it all together and are holding it all together, but Jesus is the only One who really gets the "Perfect" award. Have faith: God is working in our hearts and teaching us how to be more like Him. I don't think Jesus was Type A, but I'm positive that He uses our good qualities for His glory...when we let Him. He's also trying to teach us how to have grace for others and ourselves.
  • There is a reason Type A's are Type A. The over-working, need-meeting, consistently-drivenness of us are there because, for whatever reason, we feel that we are less-than when we aren't over-functioning. This usually means that there is some sort of wound that God wants to heal.
  • There some good benefits to our personality. Craig recently told me that he really appreciates that the house is neat and orderly. He didn't realize how much better he functions when his surroundings are peaceful and tidy. Because before we met...well, let's just say cleaning wasn't a top priority. We love to give. We love to help. We love to stand in the gap. A lot of us are really loyal and do what we do out of love.
  • When we push you away, it might not because of you. A lot of Type A's are used to serving, not being served. They are used to meeting everyone else's needs, listening to everyone else's stories, and comforting/soothing others. When the tables are turned, they don't know how to receive it.

So, how do you show a Type A that he/she is loved, valued, and a priority when he/she seems to be a self-sufficient, independent, confident individual? Here are 5 ways:

  1. Plan something. Your spouse probably runs the calendar. She's got the play dates, the work conferences, the doctor appointments, birthday parties, etc. all lined up. But what she may not have is something scheduled just for herself or a date for the two of you. Take initiative: plan a spa day or a date night where all she has to do is show up. Let her know what to wear, where to go, and when to be there. She may hem and haw, but encourage her to take advantage of the time you've carved out for her, affirming that the world is not going to crash down if she takes a break. Bonus points if you can plan something that gives her a break and allows her to have fun.
  2. Keep your word. Most Type A's love a well-oiled machine and when you back out of something, you're late, or you blow off an event, he's going to be hurt. Do we need to learn to roll with the punches? Most definitely. Do we need to function when things don't go as expected? For sure. When things change and you can't do what you say you were going to do, let him know as soon as you do. Help him process through the situation (if needed) and explain this has nothing to do with how you feel about him or his priorities. And always call if you're going to be late. Most Type A-ers are worriers, too (even though we know we shouldn't).
  3. Be a mirror. Most of the time, Type A-ers live tired. They don't know there is another way to way to function. Running on fumes is what they do and they have a laser-like focus on what needs to be accomplished. Resting is something to do after all the work is completed, which means it pretty much never happens until they completely run themselves into the ground. But she's not going to understand there's another say to live until you reflect back to her how she's really feeling and looking. (By the way, this is NOT where you say, "Gee, honey, you sure look awful today. Look at the bags under your eyes!") Simply asking your spouse how she feels after a long day and helping her entertain options for an alternative way of living is helpful. For example, if I am telling Craig about my day and sharing how tired I am after meeting with three different women about their marital/personal issues, he might say, "What would it look like if you only met with one or two? How might that change what they get from you and how you feel after?" Or, if he was being more pointed, "How does meeting with three women in one day affect your capacity for the kids when they get home from school?" Sometimes you don't always like what you see in the mirror, but the end game is to help each other look more like Jesus. Sometimes, this takes asking the hard questions. But always, always, speak the truth with love and grace.
  4. Invite him into rest. I cannot tell you how many weekends I spent huffing and puffing around the house getting things done. Every time I'd pass Craig and he'd be watching television, I'd make sure to sigh extra loud. Craig wasn't being lazy. He was choosing to engage in downtime. He was choosing to take a break. He put up with years of my sighing and of my rejection of his offers to sit with him on the couch, but his persistence finally paid off. One day I SAT DOWN. I didn't enjoy it at first. I felt restless and guilty. But the more I practice, the better I become.  There have now been more than a few occasions where I am the one sitting in the chair and he's huffing and puffing!
  5. Remind her that she was designed to have needs. Remind her she's not supposed to be able to do it all, that she is part of a team that works together to support each other. Remind her that there is enough space for her to have her emotions, even if you're going through hard stuff, too. The key is that you're stronger together than you are as individuals. The independent one doesn't always remember this. Sometimes it helps to ask her what you could take off her plate. Sometimes, it's better if you just step in and do some things she normally takes care of but really hates.

Obviously, all Type A-ers are not the same! I'd love to know how you've shown love to your Type A spouse or, if you're Type A, what else would make you feel like a priority in your spouse's life. And stay tuned next week for Craig's post on how to let your Type B know he/she is loved and prioritized.