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Discussion Starter #1
I have a wonderful husband who is ISTJ and whom I love very much. Lately though I have been having a hard time with him... I am an ENFJ- so we are very different...

The crux of my problem is that I feel like he is micromanaging me and trying to change me into him... he is not letting me be myself.

We are admittedly very different. I like to improvise and be creative, where he like to follow lists and keep things orderly.

I work a full time job, do all the grocery shopping, do all the picking up and dropping off of our son, do all the cooking, make lunch for my son every day, do all the laundry, and do most of the cleaning. My husband works longer hours than I do and takes care of bill-paying, yard work, garbage, recycling, and budgeting... We are both very busy and tired...

The thing is- I don't get on his case about how he does something. I am just grateful to be sharing the load... (also I am easy-going) but he has been following behind me and being completely anal. He will go through my closet and question me on every item of clothing- why am I keeping that? He has given me lectures about how to cut a banana, how to do laundry 'properly', how to wipe my son's nose, what setting to have the stroller on, how to use the remote control, how to put down the blinds, how the pantry should be organized... If I cook a meal, he wants to know that I've followed a recipe (I like to improvise). If I take the car out, he wants to know whether I checked the tires for air, the oil, whether I thought to vaccuum the backseat. If not- he sighs heavily and says that I am irresponsible and careless.

This is driving me crazy. I am a 31 year-old lawyer. I am highly intelligent. Somehow I muddled along through life before meeting him... I'm not sure why he is suddenly monitoring me like this... I am a great wife and mother, but I am not perfect. This is just really starting to wear me down. I feel like he is just so hard on me these days. He wants to change me and he doesn't appeciate me for the fun-loving person that I am. He doesn't appreciate all that I do- he just looks to find fault. He wasn't always this anal, I swear. We've been together 10 years and it is worse than it has ever been.

I think this has to do with him being unhappy at work. My husband does not like his job or his work environment. He has been beaten down over the last few years and is incredibly stressed and run down... His boss treats him poorly and my husband has wanted to quit for 3 years... yet he reports for work every day and doesn't even call in sick if he is legitimately sick. I think he is simply too risk averse to quit. It drives me nuts,because I see him slowly morphing into this unhappy, rigid guy, but I don't say anything- because it's a very touchy subject. I think this is a classic case of getting kicked at work and coming home and kicking me. But I'm not sure how to change this.

I guess I am looking for insight into why he is being like this and for suggestions how I can help him out and to change this dynamic. I love my husband dearly. He has amazing qualities- but he is clearly unhappy right now and won't take steps to change it. Instead of focusing on what is making him unhappy, he is focusing on how many paper towels I use to clean up a spill or whether I hung my pants correctly. I am ready to snap.

I feel disloyal even writing this post, but I am at the end of my rope here. I have tried to talk about his job, but he tells me to back off and I can tell he's ready to snap, so now I follow his lead about that subject and it is rarely ever discussed... I have told him I want his criticism to stop- but he can't really help it. I just don't know what to do. I want him to be happy and I want him to lay off.

Thoughts? Thanks in advance.
 

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Hiya,

I'm not an ISTJ, and I hope you'll get good advice from them :), but from what I'd just read it's obviously not about whether you've checked the tyres or followed a recipe, it's just that when you're stressed you usually feel like your life isn't under control, so he's trying to make himself feel more in control by controling all the small things. Obviously though this isn't the answer... he needs to tackle the actual problem, which is apparently his job. He's probably not going to break out of his ISTJ frame of thinking, so rather than waiting for a spontaneous intuitive epiphany from him, it'd be better to find a way of allowing him to factor "changing jobs" into his thinking process in a constructive logical way. As for how, I'm not entirely sure, if he won't talk to you about it.. but maybe there's someone else who could gently talk to him in a non-threatening and calm way... ?
Maybe a holiday would be a good idea, might enable him to clear his head?
Or maybe a different outlet for his stress - something he could come home and feel really validated doing - you know - if someone hates their job and wont'leave their job then at least doing something really fun outside of work might help?
Distractions and him feeling more in control in this way might gradually lead him to realize he needs to change jobs of his own accord?
Anyway I'll leave the ISTJs to give you their ideas now :)
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Sunrain,
Thank you so much for your thoughtful response. I think you nailed it- probably not about these little things at all...
I just want to help him feel better and get back to his happy, confident self. I have been feeling hurt about all the criticism coming my way- but I feel worse for him- because I know he is stressed and hurting but doesn't want to talk about things... and I have learned to give him space...

I would love to hear what some ISTJ's think and whether they have any suggestions for getting him out of his funk...

He is extremely perceptive and will see any machinations on my part coming a mile away- so it's best to be direct... but he doesn't like to dwell on emotions (big surprise, huh) and is more a man of action...

I could really use some ideas.
 

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*sighs* I have tried to post a reply to this thread three times now. None of them have made me happy enough to hit the send button... There really isn't anything that I can come up with that won't make the bomb that is his stress level go off in your face... He has to come to the realization that he needs to do something about this problem himself.

The only thing I can think about is take him out for a romantic night at home, liquor him up a bit, and try to get him to open up to you...
 

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MOTM May 2011
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Smiley,

You said it, as did Sunrain (leave it to an ENFP to zero in on what's going on with that crazy sharp intuitive antenna thingy they've all got built in!)

He's stressed. Way stressed. He feels like his life is out of control. When this happens to an ISTJ, he starts trying to control things and people around him--especially those close to him. The job is likely the biggest problem, but there are likely other stresses eating at him too.

You're right. You need to be direct. Write out what you've written here and read it to him as a letter to him. He'll be defensive--so let him. It's time to man up and fulfill the promises he made to you however long ago. Then go get some counseling. Marriage counseling and individual counseling. Both of you.

He probably needs to change jobs. I understand his reluctance, but if faced with losing my family or losing my job, I'll quit the job every time. He doesn't realize that he is losing you--he's too wrapped up in his own pain to see the pain he's causing you. However, if neither one of you act, it won't be long until someone serves someone papers.

Don't mention us or this board. He'll be incensed and feel betrayed. He isn't ready for the idea that you've asked for help from complete strangers.

He needs some guy friends. Friends that'll do more than grouse about the job, wife, kids, life together. Friends that will tell him when he is screwing up. And right now, he is screwing up royally. A classic case of a stressed ISTJ wasting the only good thing he has going for him. I can say that 'cuz I've BTDT.

Good luck with this--I really wish you the best. And I hope he wakes up before life really knocks him on his can.:mellow:
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I appreciate your responses. I feel a lot better about this today...

Niss63- I am surprised by how serious you think this is... I appreciate your advice and the support... but I want to clarify how much I love my husband and explain that my husband is a beautiful person and has wonderful qualities... I wasn't talking about them, because I was venting about the problem- but I assure you that he is thoughtful and loving and kind. He is a great father and my biggest supporter/protector. Not that I am excusing his behaviour lately... just that I know he is going through something and this is not the real him. I have no intention of leaving my husband and I know he would never leave me... I just want things to improve.

He went out last night with a few friends and stayed out late and had some beers... When he came home, he was in a good mood and we had a bit of a talk about what I want and about how I need space to be me. He felt pretty bad, I could tell... and he said that if I really have felt that he is trying to change me or doesn't accept me for who I am, then he has to change his behaviour. I'll wait and see what happens there...

I think him going out with friends was a great move. He rarely does that, but it's good for him: something light to remind him that life isn't so serious sometimes and we are doing all right! I am going to try to encourage more of that and more of me going out on my own with friends too... I want him to remember who I am, who I was when we met, that I am my own person and that I am with him by choice.

As for the job thing- I can't do anything on that front. We've had that conversation before and will have it again. He has to make up his own mind about that one. I'm not going to give him an ultimatum- because we're certainly not at that point yet and because I've seen how distressed he gets when unemployed (even worse- if possible). I'll be there to support him, regardless of his decision.

Thank you for taking the time to write responses Niss63, Sunrain and Caius 20... I truly appreciate it. :blushed:
 

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It is serious if it is not addressed. Really addressed. Going out with friends is a good move, but it needs to happen a lot more. Yes, you need to have several discussions.

If not addressed and it gets worse, he'll make your life miserable--all while being a good father and a good husband. Sounds crazy, I know. It ends up being that he fulfills all of the roles expected of him while being nit-picking and anal enough to make you feel unloved. And that's the good news.

The bad news is that if it progresses past this stage, he'll begin to operate out of his shadow functions--think ENFP on steroids and only the bad stuff. So he becomes carefree, irresponsible, running hither and thither without a plan in his head, forsaking all duties and responsibilities--manipulative, unsafe, and a bit scary.

Sounds crazy for sure. But I've seen it and I've lived it.

As for the counseling--don't take that as an indicator of seriousness. I recommend counseling for everyone. You'd be amazed how much discussing problems with a licensed professional objective third party can clear your head. Really, just do it. You can thank me later.
 

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It is serious if it is not addressed. Really addressed. Going out with friends is a good move, but it needs to happen a lot more. Yes, you need to have several discussions.

If not addressed and it gets worse, he'll make your life miserable--all while being a good father and a good husband. Sounds crazy, I know. It ends up being that he fulfills all of the roles expected of him while being nit-picking and anal enough to make you feel unloved. And that's the good news.

The bad news is that if it progresses past this stage, he'll begin to operate out of his shadow functions--think ENFP on steroids and only the bad stuff. So he becomes carefree, irresponsible, running hither and thither without a plan in his head, forsaking all duties and responsibilities--manipulative, unsafe, and a bit scary.

Sounds crazy for sure. But I've seen it and I've lived it.

As for the counseling--don't take that as an indicator of seriousness. I recommend counseling for everyone. You'd be amazed how much discussing problems with a licensed professional objective third party can clear your head. Really, just do it. You can thank me later.
It really depends on the counsellor though, there are pretty awful counsellors out there who won't help an ounce ;)

If these guys can sort it, I wouldn't assume it will get worse, as long as they're good at communicating they'll be fine :) But of course, if it gets worse then you'll need to tackle it more, but I'm sure you would do that :)
 

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It really depends on the counsellor though, there are pretty awful counsellors out there who won't help an ounce ;)

If these guys can sort it, I wouldn't assume it will get worse, as long as they're good at communicating they'll be fine :) But of course, if it gets worse then you'll need to tackle it more, but I'm sure you would do that :)
Yes, there are good and bad counselors. I've had both. Encountering a bad one doesn't mean that you shouldn't get counseling, though.

If they were good at communicating, she wouldn't be seeking help in this forum with understanding her husband. :shocked:

As I see it, the reality is that she was really frustrated with his behavior, wasn't able to communicate in a meaningful way with him, and was feeling a bit unloved. Being the loving and caring spouse, she went on a search to try to find out what makes him tick and what she could do to help the situation. After finding out some information, she posted here to get some feed back. Then he got some R&R time with his buds, and realizing how he's been treating her poorly, comes home pretty mellow and says the right things (the things he really feels down deep for her) and agrees that they need to discuss some things and iron out some of their differences. He's loving, she's relieved and has hope now that it'll all work out some how. I mean, it's obvious that he does love her and care for her as she does love and care for him. So right now, it's all patched up.

Until.

Until he gets stressed about his job again, or some unexpected bill comes due, or something else makes him feel out of control and here they'll go again. The elephant in the room is that he's stressed out about his job and he hasn't come to enough self-realization of how he is coping with his stress and what it is doing to those around him. When he changes those things, then they will be on the mend. Until he does that, they are on an endless roller coaster ride filled with emotional highs that are euphoric and emotional lows that can feel like it's hopeless.

Yes, I know each person is unique, and each couple has a unique relationship, but some things can be counted on to be the same. Stress is the great leveler and can be counted on to get an ISTJ to react out of their base instincts, bypassing their rational thinking processes. When this happens, we get nit-picky and drive everyone around us nuts.

How can I be sure? Because I are one. I have spent a lifetime learning and understanding what makes me and others like me tick. When it comes to "knowing thyself" I am brutally honest. With myself and with others. I love ISTJs and want to see them succeed, but I am well aware of our short comings and how horrible we can be to those around us if we give in to our darker tendencies.

Communication is certainly needed. But unless it is preceded by brutally honest communication with oneself, the communication between the parties is more or less posturing rather than open and effective communication.

:mellow:
 

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Yes, there are good and bad counselors. I've had both. Encountering a bad one doesn't mean that you shouldn't get counseling, though.

If they were good at communicating, she wouldn't be seeking help in this forum with understanding her husband. :shocked:

As I see it, the reality is that she was really frustrated with his behavior, wasn't able to communicate in a meaningful way with him, and was feeling a bit unloved. Being the loving and caring spouse, she went on a search to try to find out what makes him tick and what she could do to help the situation. After finding out some information, she posted here to get some feed back. Then he got some R&R time with his buds, and realizing how he's been treating her poorly, comes home pretty mellow and says the right things (the things he really feels down deep for her) and agrees that they need to discuss some things and iron out some of their differences. He's loving, she's relieved and has hope now that it'll all work out some how. I mean, it's obvious that he does love her and care for her as she does love and care for him. So right now, it's all patched up.

Until.

Until he gets stressed about his job again, or some unexpected bill comes due, or something else makes him feel out of control and here they'll go again. The elephant in the room is that he's stressed out about his job and he hasn't come to enough self-realization of how he is coping with his stress and what it is doing to those around him. When he changes those things, then they will be on the mend. Until he does that, they are on an endless roller coaster ride filled with emotional highs that are euphoric and emotional lows that can feel like it's hopeless.

Yes, I know each person is unique, and each couple has a unique relationship, but some things can be counted on to be the same. Stress is the great leveler and can be counted on to get an ISTJ to react out of their base instincts, bypassing their rational thinking processes. When this happens, we get nit-picky and drive everyone around us nuts.

How can I be sure? Because I are one. I have spent a lifetime learning and understanding what makes me and others like me tick. When it comes to "knowing thyself" I am brutally honest. With myself and with others. I love ISTJs and want to see them succeed, but I am well aware of our short comings and how horrible we can be to those around us if we give in to our darker tendencies.

Communication is certainly needed. But unless it is preceded by brutally honest communication with oneself, the communication between the parties is more or less posturing rather than open and effective communication.

:mellow:
I love your way of writing.:) I agree with the "brutally honest communication with oneself", but I guess what I meant was that if people aren't ready to be honest with themselves then talking to a councillor won't help..I'm just speaking from experience with my parents.. they've been married 25 years, 10 out of which were really awful, and then eventually they got to a point where they were ready to actually make it work.. and I think no ammount of anything would have helped before that point, because they needed to come to a place in their own minds where they were ready to face themselves and face their faults and change.. so that's all I mean :). Otherwise yes - if you're ready to really communicate, then talking to an unbiased third party can be really helpful!!
 

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True, true.

How many psychologists does it take to change a lightbulb? Only one, but the lightbulb has to want to change.:crazy::laughing::happy:
 

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True, true.

How many psychologists does it take to change a lightbulb? Only one, but the lightbulb has to want to change.:crazy::laughing::happy:
Hahaha! That is probably the funniest thing I've heard in a long time! :laughing:
 
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