A Movie, An Article, and Our Temperaments

A Movie, An Article, and Our Temperaments August 22, 2010

It isn’t often that I enjoy a movie, particularly when I’m watching it in lieu of a Phillies game.  But on Saturday night Mr. Red and I watched Finding Neverland, and we both thoroughly enjoyed it.  If you haven’t already seen the film, I highly recommend adding it to your Netflix Queue.

And then today I came across an article, The Parent Trap: Art After Children, which was also excellent (h/t to Shannon), and hit upon many of the same themes of Finding Neverland.

“There is no more sombre enemy of good art than the pram in the hallway.” In fact, we didn’t have a pram or a hallway, but in the dark watches of the night I would sometimes look at the Maclaren Dreamer buggy in the corner of the tiny kitchen and think, is that it then? Will I have to go and get a proper job and never write again?…

…I remember reading that when the writer Tracey Chevalier had her first baby, someone told her that “every baby costs one book”; she said something to the effect that that seemed fair enough. But we should turn Connolly’s equation upside-down and say that maybe what’s in the pram – breathing, vulnerable life, hope, a present responsibility – is actually more important than good art. It might make us produce less art, but maybe it would be art with the future at its heart.

And we all know that kids and families make for some great writing material.  So even if you’ve never seen Finding Neverland, go read the article.  It’s very entertaining, well-written, and full of some great points.

And now on to the real reason for my post.  One of our readers, Ruth, asked about our temperaments.  Since I know all the builders in real life, I will give my opinion, and you are all welcome to agree/disagree with me in the comments.

Me (Red)–Choleric and slightly Sanguine

B-Mama–Sanguine and slightly Choleric


MaryAlice–Melancholic and slightly Choleric

Juris Mater–Melancholic and Choleric

Tex–Melancholic and Choleric


Am I right?

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  • JurisMater

    Ruth and Red,You're both partially right, I am Choleric(primary)-Sanguine(secondary); very little Melancholic, though, Red.Red, it's very Choleric to try to judge other people's temperaments. That said : ) I think that AWOL Mommy has a hearty dose of Sanguine along with her Choleric.Kat, I wonder what your secondary temperament is. You're such a gentle blend.

  • rightsaidred

    “it's very Choleric to try to judge other people's temperments” haha, I know. But I did say you were free to disagree in the comments 😉

  • JurisMater

    I hear you, as a fellow choleric, I'm a temperament-aholic. Understanding temperaments helps me with patience, understanding, and appreciating other approaches. My husband, a Phlegmatic-Sanguine who is naturally patient and merciful, thinks temperament analysis is overrated. He doesn't need it as much as I do! : )

  • Kat0427

    Red, JM, and Tex – how do you know what personality type you are? Is there an online test? Ruth, it's fun that you guessed our temperaments 🙂 This is an interesting discussion.

  • BMM

    Red, I just read the entire article you posted – it was fabulous, particularly for the Guardian! Thanks so much for sharing!I've wondered about the Builders' temperaments myself – this was fun! As a melancholic with slight choleric tendencies, understanding the temperaments has helped me greatly in my spiritual life and relating to others (well, more like, learning to be understanding and patient with others who do not approach life in the same way I do ;)).

  • Ruth

    Red, thank you for getting the post going. I love it! I've been addicted since a friend gave me the book, The Temperament God Gave You. It's been so helpful for me in understanding others just like you said, Red. I'm a melancholic and it has especially helped me to have patience with cholerics (who I perceive as judgmental and harsh, especially when giving opinions) and sanguines (who come off to me as irresponsible and flippant). And it's really helped me to become aware of my tendency to feel overwhelmed at the start of a new task and worry about failure which leads to a lack of fortitude. I can't say enough about the Temperaments as a tool for self-awareness and charity towards others who approach life from a whole different angle.

  • MaryAlice

    Well, Red got me just right, I am a melancholic with a touch of choleric, though I think I am slightly more outgoing than many melancholics, I do need plenty of downtime. Recently I have realized that I am a “quitter” though Ruth stated it so much more eloquently in terms of the struggle with fortitude, I am actually going to save your words, Ruth. Red may have recognized this early in me because she has been very supportive in encouraging me to stick with things that are looking very, very imperfect to me. Temperments have also really helped me with my husband, who has sort of the opposite (total sanguine, very very social). Last summer, JM coached me through a period of growth, understanding and appreciation of his temperment, as an extrovert herself she could sympathize with him, and pointed out to me all of the benefits of our opposites blending together. I have also learned the benefits of my temperment — I am more apt at parties to talk to one or two people, but I feel that I have deeper conversations and I find that people really open up to me. This also takes lots of prayer because it means answering personal questions, and that I tend to fixate on problems, mine or other peoples, so I have to protect myself and be gentle with myself.I now go to parties excited to watch him do his thing, and prepared to float in and out of his conversations, but I have also told him that I need lots of support at parties, he needs to check in with me, and he is very sensitive to this, so we have much more fun now!My husband and I both have choleric as our secondary, which means we run a pretty tight ship but can but heads sometimes, but we are really learning to balance taking charge of different areas. I think that our very traditional distribution of labor has helped us in this way because some things are just automatic, we no longer fight about who does laundry or how bills are getting paid, we each just do our thing and let the other do his. For us, that really works.

  • rightsaidred

    JM, Mr. Red and I were discussing your temperment, and he also guessed Melancholic and Choleric, and we were both surprised to find you thought yourself sanguine. Maybe all those rough times in Philly (the mice, pregnancy, waking babies, small apartments, moves, bar exam, husband working crazy hours) effected our opinion of your temperment? haha!MaryAlice, Mr. Red is also a Melancholic and secondary Choleric, and he wanted me to share this saying with you–“Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.” –ChestertonIt seems to be his motto, and often motivates him to get a task done that will not be perfect.

  • Mary Alice

    I also think that CS Lewis said “The perfect is the enemy of the good.” I use both as mottoes.

  • Ruth

    I love this discussion! In line with what MA was saying about support and coaching from the other temperaments (especially important for the melancholic who tends to retreat inward), I've concluded that every melancholic needs a few good sanguines in their life to avoid becoming – well, melancholy. In fact, I suffer from temperament envy towards sanguines – haha! Sometimes it just seems that life is so much easier for them. The crosses of worry and doubt can become very heavy. I've given some thought to what my best match would be in a spouse and I think it's probably a sanguine with choleric secondary (looks like you're my model couple MA!).I'm intrigued about Red's impressions of JM's temperament. I guessed sanguine because her writing style can be flowery and slightly rambling (which is so fun to read!). This led me to imagine her as talkative and bubbly, and disposed to see the fun in things. I think this really highlights how difficult it can be to judge even a close friend's temperament as we are never really sure what the person's natural tendencies (temperament) are versus their habits and traits acquired though self-awareness and an act of will. Anyway, I just love talking about this. Thanks for the great discussion ladies. You're the best!!!!

  • Texas Mommy

    Kat, I think I have an extra copy of the Temperament God Game You…I'll be sure to pass it on!

  • Texas Mommy

    I'll defend JM's self-analysis of sanguine/choleric. She is very disposed to see the fun in things…to a point. There is very little funny about living in a mouse infested apartment with multiple babies and crazy long hours for herself and hubby….imagine those 2 years if JM wasn't sanguine!! Ruth, I hear you on your temperament-envy. Melancholic that I am, I am often my own worst enemy. Our second son is super sanguine and I learn a lot from him (he's 3)…like when the a/c is out in the car and he declares without even a whiff of sarcasm, “Mommy, it's fun to be hot!” God bless you, child.

  • JurisMater

    Tex, you my soul sista, thanks friend.You melancholics make life so pleasant and comfortable for others with your thoughtfulness and attention to detail. You must resolve to make your favorite meal and dessert and do your favorite things for yourselves sometimes too; you MORE than deserve it for all the love and service you give to others. XOXOWe love our godson, Tex, you need to post his thoughts more often here to keep us all smiling. He is adorable. My 5 year old “Bella” is super-sanguine too and, although she never ever ever stops talking, the sun shines ALL the time in our house.Are children's primary temperaments more pronounced, and then secondary temperaments show more later? Because I can easily identify the primary temperaments of my children, but their secondary temperaments puzzle me.

  • JurisMater


  • KT

    I know this is off topic here (I didn't see anywhere that allowed me to email the Builders!), but I was wondering if you would consider doing a post advising on, or asking for advice for families that operate on a low income due to a husband in grad/law/med school. We are about to embark on this journey and I would love some input on how families with kids make it work on such a small budget. Any tips, advice or encouragement would be greatly appreciated. I work part time now with a 2.5 y/o with the possibilty of adding another baby in the summer, how do people do it? Thank you!