Appreciation for temperament differences should be increasingly important in the world of love for the simple reason that we should more often find ourselves loving people with temperaments different than our own. Traditionally, people most always dated and married individuals from their own temperament axis. We often say opposites attract, but this had generally been opposites within one’s own temperament axis. This is changing. More and more, people, particularly people of high Capacitance, are dating and marrying people from different axis. It is something the concept of Cultural Maturity predicts.

All this requires a stretch. But it is exactly the integrative sort of stretch that creative growth in our time is asking of us. It makes is even more the case that our partner is often beyond us to understand. But it also means we will always have things to learn from them. And what they have to teach us will be exactly that which, in our time, is most important for us to learn.


A favorite relationship vignette involves two people who met through the Institute and later married.

The woman was very Early-Axis. She had three sons. The man was very Middle–of the best salt-of-the earth sort. In a most heartening way, he took on the task of being father to those three rambunctious young boys.

On their first wedding anniversary, he thought he had found the perfect gift for her. It was a ten slice toaster—a symbol of the fact that they were indeed a family (and, as he was an engineer, I suppose a particularly resonant sort of symbol). Of course, perfect gifts was not how she saw it. “A toaster as a expression of love?” I have often shared the story of that moment of absolute misunderstanding (and the confused and hurt feelings that ensued) as an example of the challenges a person can encounter in such “mixed-marriages” (and the delights one can find in figuring out the problem and laughing at the situation).


A Tale of Cross-Cultural Relationships by Deborah Sword, Ph.D