As I was researching personality types, I was curious about relationships between various MBTI (Meyers-Briggs) types. I was specifically trying to find tips for me as an INFP to better relate with my ISTJ husband. When I did an online search for “INFP married to an ISTJ”, my results were full of foreboding red warnings on compatibility charts and ominous predictions of a life of misery. Since I was unable to find much positive inspiration, I wanted to share my thoughts as an INFP married to an ISTJ.
If you are wondering what all those random letters mean, read this post: Personality Typing For Homemakers: The Basics.
AN INFP Married to an ISTJ: Our True Destiny
Although understanding personality types can be a helpful tool in making the most of our time on earth, God’s will for our lives and our relationships is not determined by a man-made classification. As the All-Knowing-One, God knows us better than we know ourselves, not only as we are right now, but also who we will eventually become throughout the course of our lives. Even the personality types of family, friends, and spouse are all known in advance by the Lord, the true author of our stories.
An INFP/ISTJ marriage can be immensely satisfying when both parties allow God to work through their differences for His glory. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God brought my own ISTJ husband and me together because we could serve him better as a team than as individuals. We both will readily admit that our differences in how we interact with the world have been challenging at times, but they have also been great opportunities for growth.
Personality Typing Overview
The Meyers-Briggs personality typing system uses a series of four letters to describe which of the dichotomies you favor as you process information, make decisions, and interact with your outside world. Cognitive functions, a more complex feature of MBTI, describe more specifically how you use each trait.
For more on the basics of MBTI, see this post: Personality Typing for Homemakers: MBTI Basics
For more on Cognitive Functions, read this: Cognitive Functions: An Introduction
Our Similarities and Differences
The chart above illustrates that although my husband and I are both introverted, every other function appears to be a complete opposite. As an introverted sensor/extraverted thinker, he prefers to gather and internalize facts and makes impersonal decisions based on his goal of effectiveness. As an introverted feeler/ extraverted intuitive, I base my decisions on my personal values, but will often keep my options open so that I can explore other possibilities. These differences affect every area of our marriage, for better or worse.
Our differences mean that our strengths can work together to prevent blind spots. In order for that to happen though, we must be able to overcome the communication barriers created by these differences.
Identifying Communication Barriers
Identifying cognitive functions in everyday life has been the first step to understanding how my husband functions and identifying why misunderstandings often happen.
While I’ve been on pregnancy bed rest, my husband has done most of the cooking, and some of our conversations have looked something like this:
ISTJ: (Si: It’s fact gathering time. Te: Time to get to work.) What do you want for dinner?
INFP: (Fi: Food=pregnancy aversion alert!) I don’t want carrots.
ISTJ: (Si: I still need facts.) That’s not really an answer. Would you like hamburgers and peas?
INFP: (Fi: I like those.) That would be fine.
ISTJ: (Te: I want a decision.) Are you sure?
INFP: (Ne: Hmm. There are other options.) “Well, we haven’t had chicken in a while, but I’m really craving fish. . . or avocado sandwiches.”
ISTJ: (Si) The avocado isn’t ripe.
INFP: (Fi) Oh, that’s sad.
ISTJ: (Te: I need a decision.) You still haven’t told me what you want. Have you made your decision yet?
INFP:(Ne: I really don’t want to make a decision. Fi: I really wanted avocado) “ I don’t know. It doesn’t matter.”
ISTJ: (Te: I’ll make the decision.) Ok. We’ll have hamburgers and peas.
Clearly, my husband knows me pretty well and often can figure out what I am trying to say when it comes to every-day occurrences. However, when we need to have a more in-depth conversation, these differences can quickly block communication if we are not proactive to understand the other person’s point of view. We both know that we need to work hard to be able to communicate well. In fact, we likely will spend an entire lifetime learning. What matters right now is that we are making an effort to understand each other better and are willing to change when we are wrong.
Here are some areas we are focusing on right now.
- Asking clarifying questions when we don’t understand what the other person is saying.
- Making specific requests instead of ambiguous statements when we need something.
- Patience, patience, patience.
Do you know your spouse’s personality type? It may surprise you! How have you made the most of your personality differences, whether in marriage or another close relationship?
I hope to write more in the future about how knowing our cognitive function stack has helped us work better as a team. In the meantime, check out these other posts on MBTI.
Does Typology Just Put People in a Box? Antonia Dodge