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Marita Littauer w. Florence Littauer

Author of  Wired That Way

Review  |   Author Bio  |  Read an Excerpt  |  Interview

CBP: You've been busy!

Marita: I wrote five books in the last year.  I wrote Praying Wives Club, which came out in January. My mother, my sister, and I wrote a book called Making the Blue Plate Special from Cook, that came out in January. Kregel did a re-do of a marriage book of mine, not a thorough re-do, but it's definitely revised, that came out in March. Then Wired That Way came out in May. Then Communication Plus is a total re-do of a book my mom and I did in 1998 called Talking So People Listen. So those are my five books. So I'll have a boring second half of 2006, since I have no new books coming out!

CBP: Isn't that hard to be doing so much? How do you find your balance?

Marita: Well, I didn't. That's part of my problem in life. It's a matter of priorities, and it was a hard year. It's hard as an author because you feel like you have to take the opportunities when they come your way. My motto has been, when God opens a door I walk through it. But the harsh reality is it nearly killed me and it nearly killed my marriage. Fortunately, we have both survived. But was a process of healing. I turned in the last book, Communication Plus, January 18, 2006, and it came out in July. I'm still tired. It also caused some marriage issues that also added to my tiredness. My husband and I have dealt with those, we're on the other side of it, we're still working on setting new boundaries so it doesn't happen again. I'm only writing one book in 2006, and I don't know what else the future holds.

CBP: Talking about Wired That Way, how does identifying a person's personality help in relationships?

Marita: Well, it's a huge help because everybody's different. When I'm speaking on this topic, I always start by asking my audience, "How many of you have noticed that there are people out there who are different from you?" Of course, everybody raises their hands. Then I'll say, "How many of you live with, work with, or used to work with that person that's different than you?" And they all raise their hands. Then I'll say, "How many of you have tried to change that person who's different than you?" And, of course, they all raise their hands. Then I say, "How often has it worked?" And they all shout out, "Never!"

So, the basic premise is that we may try to change those other people, and pretty much everyone agrees they have tried, but we cannot change them no matter how hard we try. The only people we can change is ourselves. So there's two basic premises running through the book: myself and others. The first thing is that I want to use this as a tool to grow, improve, and mature. That I don't use this as an excuse.

CBP: That's what a lot of people say -- I can't help it, I'm just...

Marita: Wired That Way! That's one of the real emphasis of this book. My mother and I have written numerous books on this subject. My prior bestseller on the topic is Personality Puzzle, which is on understanding others. I've written My Spiritual Personality. My mother's got Personality Plus for Parents, Personality Plus for Couples, and so forth. The logical thing to ask is why do we need another book? What I really tried to do with this is to answer all the standard questions that come into our office from people who have read some of the other books, and one of the complaints is, "People use this as an excuse." So in this book we heavily emphasized that this is a tool for growth, that we're in a process. It's a plan for growth, to grow and mature.

We use this example: you go to a mall. You know there's a certain store you need to go to, but this is not your usual mall, but you know where you're trying to go. When you walk in, you go in and go to the directory board, and you find the little red arrow that says, "You Are Here." Once you see where you are, you find the store you're looking for. Once you find where you are, and where you want to go, you then make a plan how to get there. We have in the book, and we sell separately, what's called a Personality Profile. This is the "You Are Here" button. You take the Personality Profile and it tells you where you are.

But our ultimate goal, which this book addresses, as Christians is to become more like Christ. If we were to do a Personality Profile on the life of Christ, we would see that He has the strengths of all four and the weaknesses of none. So where we want to go is the strengths of all four and the weaknesses of none. It's not an excuse for being stuck where I am, it's a tool for growth to look where I am now, and how am I going to get where I want to go. We also have, along that line, something that's not in any of the other books on the personalities, a lot of charts that are a quick review that make it easier for the reader to grasp the material. It also has some sidebars which are stories from other people who have applied these principles and have had success with them.

In there is a chart on each personality when you are in the "raw," if you are living just humanistically, no growth, no progress. And then there's a chart when this personality is refined. I developed this idea recently at a seminar, I do a lot of seminars, and I mentioned about the man who was leading this particular small group. He was a Peaceful Phlegmatic. I made a comment to one of the women in his small group, "Isn't he the best phlegmatic you've ever seen?" And she said, "He's phlegmatic? I would never have thought of him as phlegmatic. I have a lot of phlegmatics in my family and they make me crazy!" I said, "That's because Craig is living in his strengths." Again, it's a tool for growth. We really encourage people to not wallow in their weaknesses, but to live in their strengths.

So, that's one of the things that's different. One of the other key things is people say, "Do I have to buy all of these books?" Now the answer is no, because Wired That Way has ten really solid chapters, they're long chapters, but they have sidebars and charts that break them up, so it's easy reading. Each chapter addresses a different aspect of the personality. Now you don't have to read them all.

Another thing this project does, not just this book, but Gospel Light has done a great job on the whole project, and we have DVDs that track with this book. There's a whole separate workbook, because Wired That Way is a crossover book. It has a Christian emphasis, it references a Bible verse here or there. I use Romans 12:18 to address this whole topic, which says, in three parts: (1)If possible, (2)so far as it depends on you, (3)be at peace with all men.

So, how does this help relationships? (You probably thought I forgot your question). The first thing is, it helps me grow, it helps me be a better person, it helps me improve, it encourages me to not use it as a cop-out. The second thing is, as I learn to identify other people, the second chapter in this books talks about the visible clues of the personalities. It tells me the clues to watch for. If I'm in a difficult relationship with you, which I'm not, it's a little awkward for me to go to you and ask you to take the Personality Profile. If you work with someone day in and day out, you see them at their best and you see them at their worst. So you know.

So in chapter two you know the body language, you know the clothing clues, personal space, like how their car, home or office looks. Like, the Popular Sanguine has lots of personal stuff. The Perfect Melancholy has their personal space all neat and tidy, and they only have one project out at a time because they don't multitask well. When you learn these clues, and there's body language clues, then you can identify the personality of the other people. Then, once you've identified it, you use the strengths and weaknesses charts that are in here, and you learn to adjust your expectations of them.

Wouldn't it be great if we could fix 'em? But we can't! In marriage or in the workplace or in friendships, when I understand that my husband, who is a Perfect Melancholy, is a lock freak, and I am a total not-lock-anything kind of person. If I didn't understand it, my husband would make me absolutely nuts. But because I understand him, and I understand that this is truly how he is wired, then for me, locking the doors is an act of love. Instead of trying to "fix him," I respect who he is and I adjust my expectations accordingly.

CBP: Let me ask you this, because I'm sure it is something you address a lot. You write in here that the origin of the four categories are from Hippocrates, before Christ, based more on Greek thinking, and eventually got wrapped into mythology and astrology. This is a grey area, and some people embrace it and others reject it as not honoring God. Would you say this profiling is biblical?

Marita: I wouldn't say it's biblical, in that you won't find sanguine, melancholy, phlegmatic, and choleric in the Bible. No. But, when you read the Bible you will find characters of clearly different personalities. I don't say it's biblical, per say, but it's a tool that allows us to fulfill the biblical mandate of Romans 12:18. The interesting thing is, for example, there are lion, beaver, otter, and Golden Retriever -- it's the same thing! But because they don't use the Greek terms, they don't get harassed over that issue. It's just a tool.

I mentioned that this book addresses concerns, so I know what the concerns are. I don't claim it's "Christian," it's a tool. Cars are not Christian. They're tools that allow us to us to get from point A to point B. I've tried to address all the known concerns out there.

CBP: Thanks, Marita!