When the Dead Sea Weds a Babbling Brook

Author Gary D. Chapman From Things I wish I’d known before we got married 5 years ago 15753

Another area of personality differences is related to speech. Some people talk freely about everything. Others are more thoughtful, introspective, and less likely to share their thoughts and feelings. I have often referred to the latter as the “dead Sea” and the former as the “babbling Brook.” In the nation of Israel, the Dead Sea receives waters from the Jordan River. But the Dead Sea goes nowhere. Many people have that kind of personality. They can receive all kinds of thoughts, feelings, and experiences throughout the day. They have a large reservoir in which they store the experiences of the day and are perfectly happy not to talk. In fact, if you say to a Dead Sea, “What’s wrong? Why aren’t you talking tonight?” they’ll likely say, “Nothing’s wrong. What makes you think something is wrong?”The Dead Sea is being perfectly honest. He or she is content not to talk. On the other hand, the Babbling Brook is the individual for whom whatever comes into the eye gate or the ear gate comes out the mouth gate — usually in less than sixty seconds. Whatever they see, whatever they hear, they tell. In fact, if no one is at home they will call someone on the telephone and ask, “Do you know what I just heard?” They have no reservoir; whatever they experience, it spills over and they tell it to someone.


Often a Dead Sea will marry a Babbling Brook.

Often a Dead Sea will marry a Babbling Brook. Before marriage, the differences are viewed as attractive. For example, while dating, the Dead Sea can relax. He or she does not have to think “How will I get the conversation started?” or, “How will I keep the conversation flowing?” All they have to do is sit there, nod their head, and say, "Uh- huh.” The Babbling Brook will fill up the evening. On the other hand, the Babbling Brook finds the Dead Sea equally attractive because Dead Seas are the world’s best listeners. However, five years after marriage, the Babbling Brook may be saying, “We’ve been married five years and I don’t know her.” At the same time, the Dead Sea may be saying, “I know him too well. I wish he would stop the flow and give me a break.”


These differences are also seen in the way people tell stories. The Babbling Brook tends to be a painter. If they are telling you an experience they have had, they will paint a beautiful, detailed picture of the event. They will tell you whether it was cloudy or the sun was shining, which way the wind was blowing, what kind of flowers were in the background, and how many people were standing on the other side of the parking lot. On the other hand, the Dead Sea tends to be a pointer. If they were telling the same experience, it would be much shorter with fewer details. They simply “get to the point.” They are bottom-line communicators. Often in a marriage, the pointer will find it very difficult to listen to the long and detailed account of the painter. They will sometimes interrupt and say “Could you just get to the point?” However, when the painter is listening to the pointer, they will often ask questions trying to glean more details so they have a better picture of the pointer’s story.


The painter will always be a painter and the pointer will always be a pointer.

The painter will always be a painter and the pointer will always be a pointer. These personality patterns of speech are not likely to change, nor is one better than another. However, if we understand these personality differences, we are less likely to try to change each other after we are married. The Dead Sea will never become a Babbling Brook. So the person who is married to a Dead Sea must be content to live with a person who will not readily share all of their thoughts and feelings. Most Dead Seas are open to questions and are willing to share more if the Babbling Brook will ask those questions. The Dead Sea is not willfully withholding information; they simply have no compulsion to share all of their thoughts, feelings, and experiences.


While the Dead Sea may be content to listen to the constant talk of the Babbling Brook, he or she may sometimes long for moments of silence. That is why they sometimes withdraw to the computer or other activities. The Babbling Brook must understand. They are not being rejected by the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea is simply longing for a more contemplative climate. When these personality differences are discussed before marriage, they are far less likely to be troublesome after marriage.


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