Background: I am an ENTP, freshly seperated and soon to be divorced from an INFJ after two years of marriage, trying to gain clearity about how an amazing relationship that overcame a lot of adversiry, went so badly, and see if the context of our personality types can say something about it.
I should clearify that I don't think my relationship with her is workable - the bridge is as burned as it can get, she doesn't want to and I would ask for dramatic changes if it was ever an option. But in retrospect I think the core of how things went so bad was in how I tried working on it, and how she reacted to it. And this seems to me to be an area where the personality types clashed dramatically.
I am 99% sure every relationship encounter those: I don't like something that she does or want her to do something she doesn't, or i think she would be happier if she'd just try dealing with things differently or stop blocking herself or gave something a chance, or something I can use to make her happy with if she'd allow me... Or basically see any way in which things can improve and we could make each other more happy...
What do i do? See, my solution to this was to come out and say it, seemed very intuitive, very obvious... And she being and INFJ who wants to know she's making me happy even encouraged me and asked me to do so... Except that this solution turned out to be the cancer of our relationship.
So I tell her, which little do I understand means I just Critiqued one of the most important current aspects of her life - being happy with me and making me happy (Really non distiguishable actions), and instead of joining me in what in my mind can be nothing less then a happy and oppertunistic brainstorming of solutions, her solution is to re-assest our relationship, rearrange her priorities, and tell me that in that case she doesn't want to be with me.
Initially that was fine, sometimes we where afirming and sometimes we gave each other the benefit of the doubt, there where times where our relationship only remained romantic and sexual in the sense of failing to be just friends, to very quickly come back together. It remained fine as long as things where easy going...
Right until the point the relationship got serious. Initially it was just her, but with time it was more and more my developing fatherly relationship with her son (who was then 3) from a previous relationship (biological father wasn't in the picture)...
And from a certain point, whenever her solution was to breakup, I found myself comparing the value of the improvement I am asking for with the value of the relationship and the family we've created, and the answer was nearly always the family.
A lot of time i was able to think on my feet, looking for the points where our perspectives matched, building a semantical map to transelate between our perspectives, I go over them to see if she's right (and sometimes she was), and sometimes I even find alternative solutions that solved the problems altogether... But not always.
And when I didn't, it was rarely enough to simply agree to disagree - afterall she doesn't want to breakup because we've had a conflict - she wants to break up because what I said just changed her opinion about the relationship, the new information didn't want to make her change things, it made her unhappy with the relationship. She doesn't want a relationship where things aren't perfect.
So I made the assestment between the family and the issue, feeling stuck in the corner with only one solution - and I backpadeled, denying the information I just gave her or reframing it, basically sweat-talking my way out of it (something I even had to do when trying to bring these issues up).
And the results?
- I am living with more and more behaviors I really don't like, with this women who claims to want our mutual happiness and yet changes nothing towards it, like some ideal that should be achieved by magic, and I resent her more and more for it. I have never known myself to be a very angry man, and I honestly reached a point where I think neither of us recognized myself. I gradually find it takes more and more affort to do something in order to make her happy, not the action but having to actually push myself to do so, when once it was as easy as having what i wanted for breakfest.This was taking place mostly under the surface, as long as we had planty of good moments it was easy for me to put all the negetive emotions aside, until one day it sunk into her, the framing by which I am the man who makes her feel like shit, and she stopped being comfortable with me. She stopped sharing with me, she said she feels attracted to me when she thinks of me but not when I am there, she loses all interest in my ideas and she stops talking about her own (for me that was as frustrating as the downfall of our sex life), and our good moments moved from common to scarce nearly overnight...
- She feels rightous about what she does, because in the end of every fight I am freaking telling her that she is, and yet in the same time knows I don't like it and feels bad about it, but instead of trying to change anything, I eventually become in her mind the man who makes her feel like shit.
- There I am a man who freaking immigrated to be with her, living in a country where I didn't no anyone and half the people can barely understand my accent which I was constantly working on, emotionally adopting a child who I have no claim for costudy if anything happens between us, and all the trust that took gets disolved because every other week she has no problems using it as a gun to my head, all the more worst because it wasn't malicious - Shes just thinking whether the relationship is good at that moment, and nothing else matters. no understanding of all perspectives in the situation, no context to her actions, which frankly also caused me to loose a lot of my respect for her.
- She is gaining power over me, and I am freaking feeding it until it becomes habitual, an expectation, creating a monster in her that never showed it's face when we started, becoming a person I barely recognized, to the point that when she felt she was loosing it she was constantly looking for what to threat me with, even after our relationship ended (the past few weeks)... And all of that in a relationship that started with me being dominant, a trait she admires on many levels, and without it she was loosing respect for me, as well as loosing respect for anything I said (expecting me to reliably take it back).
And without those good moments, it all comes out. For the last 5 months we where living in relationship hell, where I felt like I was only staying so I can keep being her sons stepfather, with some dim hope in couple therapy for which we where on the waiting list (and we where still on it when she dumped me), until it all exploded and I had to leave the country.
What should I have done? How can an ENTP - who will pretty much always think of ways to improve the relationship no matter how good it is - deliver it without causing this dynamic? how can an ENTP and an INFJ work on the relationship without wanting to kill each other?