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  1. #1
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    Default In-law trouble for IN-couple

    This INFJ is dreading the holidays (and so is her husband). I've recently discovered that almost all my in-laws don't really like me very much. Or at least have had trouble accepting me the way I am. This came as a total surprise to me, as I've liked and even loved all my in-laws since the day I've met them. I've talked and thought about this endlessly with many different people (including some of my in-laws) so it's impossible to give an accurate, brief description of their problems with me, but it seems to have to do with two things:

    - I'm too straight-forward, take too much initiative, am too controlling, am too intense, am too arrogant, am too know-it-all. This is hard for me to hear as it comes down to the very core of the way I've been trying to actually contribute in a positive way to their family for the past six years. But apparently it was the wrong way. It's also hard for me to change: in my own family being straight-forward and taking initiative is something we praise in others. It's the way I was raised. My in-laws are the opposite: they don't like change/improvement and they want everybody to just play the role they've played for their entire lives.
    - This brings on part two: they think I've 'changed' or 'influenced' my husband into something they don't like. He's an INTP and used to be very easy-going (or so they thought). He just said 'yes' to everything. Of course they weren't aware of the fact that he may say 'yes' while thinking 'no'. However, I guess due to our relationship and due to the fact that my husband has grown as an individual anyway (career-wise, age, etc) he's now more clear about what he likes and wants. Which means he sometimes says 'no'. Apparently that's my fault.

    I believe the trouble is in our IN-ness. As healthy introverts with a busy life we just have to say no sometimes to the endless invitations of family-fun. As intuitives we tend to want to improve things I guess, create some positive growth, explore new possibilities and roles. My in-laws are either Extroverted or Sensing or both. They want to have as much fun with each other as possible, preferably in a way it has been for 30 years. Saying 'no' or taking control in anyway when it's not the role you were given is not in their book.

    Bottomline: ES-family dislikes IN daughter/sister-in-law and is actually beginning to dislike IN-son/brother as well. How on earth are we going to survive in a way that we can stay true to ourselves, but harmonically blend in with the established roles anyway. Any thoughts?

  2. #2
    Senior Member cafe's Avatar
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    I've been married to an INTP for twenty years. About five years ago, I pretty much gave up on trying to have any kind of relationship with his family. I would have to contort myself beyond recognition and wreck my relationship with my husband to even begin to please them. Screw that. Life's too short.

    My mother-in-law can just keep deluding herself that her son remembers to call her on her birthday and Mother's Day all on his own.
    “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”
    ~ John Rogers

  3. #3
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    @cafe
    My mother-in-law can just keep deluding herself that her son remembers to call her on her birthday and Mother's Day all on his own.
    So right!
    Maybe that part is actually very important in the whole issue. Okay, maybe I have been too present, too controlling, too planning, too much taking initiative. Could very well be. If that annoys them so much, then I guess I should just stop doing so around them. Save my energy for others. Case closed, everybody happy. However: this would mean that they will see and hear even less of their son/brother than they do now. Because he sure as hell isn't going to take initiative. Not that he doesn't want to see them, it's just that his mind is pre-occupied with other things. Things that he finds more important/interesting.

    Furthermore, his family consists of 2 parents, 3 siblings, 2 partners, 2 grandparents + us 2. Which means that if you see each other on every birthday and on Christmas day, we experience the complete family (and their ES-behaviour) every single month. I actually think that's quite enough, both for me and my husband. I don't even see my own parents that much.
    Last edited by emmapeel; 12-08-2012 at 05:28 AM.

  4. #4
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    @OP (Great username, BTW) Have you discussed this with your husband? What does he think? I'm in an IN couple as well - INTP/INTJ. I was going to write that we seem all to get along well enough, but then I might be under the same mistaken impression you were at first. Plus, we don't see his relatives that often. They are mainly S with several F, but also mainly I, so that might make the difference. There is very little pull for us to be involved in things beyond our wishes, with rare exceptions (e.g. grandma's big 80th birthday bash). The one E is his ENFP sister-in-law, who is a breath of fresh air and one of my favorite people.
    I've been called a criminal, a terrorist, and a threat to the known universe. But everything you were told is a lie. The truth is, they've taken our freedom, our home, and our future. The time has come for all humanity to take a stand...

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by emmapeel View Post
    This INFJ is dreading the holidays (and so is her husband). I've recently discovered that almost all my in-laws don't really like me very much. Or at least have had trouble accepting me the way I am. This came as a total surprise to me, as I've liked and even loved all my in-laws since the day I've met them. I've talked and thought about this endlessly with many different people (including some of my in-laws) so it's impossible to give an accurate, brief description of their problems with me, but it seems to have to do with two things:

    - I'm too straight-forward, take too much initiative, am too controlling, am too intense, am too arrogant, am too know-it-all. This is hard for me to hear as it comes down to the very core of the way I've been trying to actually contribute in a positive way to their family for the past six years. But apparently it was the wrong way. It's also hard for me to change: in my own family being straight-forward and taking initiative is something we praise in others. It's the way I was raised. My in-laws are the opposite: they don't like change/improvement and they want everybody to just play the role they've played for their entire lives.
    - This brings on part two: they think I've 'changed' or 'influenced' my husband into something they don't like. He's an INTP and used to be very easy-going (or so they thought). He just said 'yes' to everything. Of course they weren't aware of the fact that he may say 'yes' while thinking 'no'. However, I guess due to our relationship and due to the fact that my husband has grown as an individual anyway (career-wise, age, etc) he's now more clear about what he likes and wants. Which means he sometimes says 'no'. Apparently that's my fault.

    I believe the trouble is in our IN-ness. As healthy introverts with a busy life we just have to say no sometimes to the endless invitations of family-fun. As intuitives we tend to want to improve things I guess, create some positive growth, explore new possibilities and roles. My in-laws are either Extroverted or Sensing or both. They want to have as much fun with each other as possible, preferably in a way it has been for 30 years. Saying 'no' or taking control in anyway when it's not the role you were given is not in their book.

    Bottomline: ES-family dislikes IN daughter/sister-in-law and is actually beginning to dislike IN-son/brother as well. How on earth are we going to survive in a way that we can stay true to ourselves, but harmonically blend in with the established roles anyway. Any thoughts?
    In writing, you express yourself well. Tell them how you feel (like you told us). Raw and authentic. Be open to their response. If it hurts, tell them. The best cure for fear and anxiety is courage.

  6. #6
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    @Coriolis Naturally I've discussed this with my husband. He's angry, because there's been talking behind our back and because lies were believed and passed on between his family members. I think he has a defined threshold of some sort which has almost been reached but not just yet. He will explode though, if the lies continue. I'm sure you recognize INTP in this

    @Nerd Girl You are right, I should express my hurt. Somehow I'm only doing damage control right now: gathering information, explaining misinterpreted situations, etc. I guess I'm scared that expressing my pain will make me seem needy and dominant even more. But you are very right.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by emmapeel View Post
    @Nerd Girl You are right, I should express my hurt. Somehow I'm only doing damage control right now: gathering information, explaining misinterpreted situations, etc. I guess I'm scared that expressing my pain will make me seem needy and dominant even more. But you are very right.
    Maybe you could arrange a meetup to talk through the issues, in-person. I like how you started out mentioning you love your family. That would make a great intro. Then, share your hurt feelings, good intentions, desire to work together as a family and be accepted.

    I have a couple of NFJ's in my family that are in similar predicaments with extended family. Sometimes their talks don't always work out the way they plan. My advice in that case is to try and accept what you can't change and love anyway. My reasoning is, some personality types are completely detached from feelings and not intentionally trying to hurt you. There's one family member in particular, an ESTJ, which is very difficult for my ENFJ sister to interact with. I told her to try to rein back her negative feelings when she's offended and ready to do what she calls 'flash' (or lash out). Consider that everyone is not as naturally gifted and considerate around people as NFJ’s. The most difficult of personalities would be a great opportunity for an NFJ to shine.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by emmapeel View Post
    @cafe I guess I should just stop doing so around them. Save my energy for others. Case closed, everybody happy. However: this would mean that they will see and hear even less of their son/brother than they do now.
    This sounds like a useful idea to me, as long as you won't miss his family. Then either there will be quiet harmony or they will realize that they made a mistake in disliking you.

    It might also be worthwhile to try to slip into conversation with them that bit about your own family prizing taking initiative and being straightforward. That might encourage understanding.

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