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  1. #1
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    Default Dealing with my partner's ISFJ ex-wife - any tips?

    Hi all

    I am moving in with my boyfriend in the next few months, and it's going to be a messy situation as he has children and an ex-wife. I am pretty sure she is ISFJ - she doesn't like social situations (introvert), thinks my INFP boyfriend is overly pretentious and intellectual (S), reacts emotionally to things (F) and is quite traditional and religious (SJ). Oh, and she has borderline personality disorder - the joy!

    This Sunday I am going to be meeting her for the first time, mostly to talk about arrangements for the kids (one of whom is a high-functioning autistic) and how I'm going to deal with them. I am terrified - it doesn't help that I only have my boyfriend's version of her, which is bound to be negative.

    But also the fact that she's ISFJ doesn't help. As an INTP, I find xFSJs the hardest people to deal with - I just had a run in with my ESFJ friend when I managed to completely rub her the wrong way and resulted in us not speaking to each other for nearly a month.

    So - I was wondering if you ISFJs could offer me any advice on the ways in which I can approach the meeting that is going to get our relationship off on the best start possible. I know I need to do things that will make her Feeling side reassured, but I don't know how. I've thought of making notes so if there are particular things she wants me to do, I'll make a list so she knows that I am taking them seriously. But other than that, I don't know.

    Any hints?

  2. #2
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    Well, first I think it would be really hard to accurately type someone without meeting them.

    I probably need more information to give you more specific advice, but in my experience these are the "rules" for stepfamily situations. (I am a stepchild, biomom with child having a stepmom, and soon to be married to a stepdad) It already sounds to me that Mom is ok with willing to meet you. Although when one parent is a consistent bad-mouther that is not a good sign imo. I can write all day long about my DD's father and I could complain to her soon to be stepdad until I'm blue in the face, but it is not going to change anything and all it really means is that I'm not detached enough from the relationship to see things from a more balanced point of view. Anyway, the rules.....

    -listen to the bio parents boundaries.(both your boyfriend and Mom) This can be a tricky one, but it is like anything else...pick your battles. No matter how "right" you are, you're still wrong when it comes to his/her children. This is something to evaluate before moving in together as well, is his parenting style compatible with you?
    -stay out of the other parents home, refrain from airing your judgements about Mom's poor nutritional offering to the children. Get it through your head now, it is a nunya to you. Trust me on this one, if you get this one down it will save your life a lot of drama.
    -stay out of major decisions. Meaning medical, school etc. Your input will not be welcome, unless it is asked for do not give to the other parent.
    -YOU need to evaluate before getting involved with BF's children what your dealbreakers are. Too many people get involved with a person with children and then claim they didn't know what they were in for, meanwhile dragging kids back and forth through drama. Are you going to be ok with babysitting frequently? Who will do their laundry, clean up etc? Bedtimes, bedrooms, kitchen rules, every single boundary you can think of....all need to be discussed, PRIOR to the move. The last thing you want is resentment to build up and the children start noticing. Or to get yourself trapped in an undesirable situation.

    On a sidenote, be prepared for any special needs children to come with a lot of extra care.

    As far as meeting Mom, I would not concentrate on appealing to her feeling side (no matter how much of an F you think she is.) Mom's are on the look out for anything odd about people dealing with their children, she will pick up on any sort of fakeness and will start to scrutinize you even harder. Listen to her, have questions prepared related to the disabled son that you can ask her, and be yourself.

  3. #3
    Supreme Allied Commander Take Five's Avatar
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    Maybe you can arrange an "accident."
    Johari Nohari

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  4. #4
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Good comments from Tewt.

    If she IS isfj, though:

    Stable ISFJ women usually will act cordial in a meeting -- they know what is appropriate -- but might stew later or get passive-aggressive depending on maturity level. (This is unlike ESFJ, which is far more likely to act out publicly.)

    I would guess the One Big Thing Not To Do is act like you are her replacement or vying to be her replacement. If you step on her mom turf, you might as well have stuck your head in a momma bear maw after slapping her babies around. Avoid violating the established social roles. That is the one sure way to rile an ISFJ mom and maybe get her to break her social reticence. That means you should really avoided telling her how to parent, arguing with her or criticizing her parent skills right now. You need to give her deference as the mom of the kids and his first wife and not "step out of your place" (from her perspective). Once she knows you are not trying to steal her position or play a role that is hers, she will generally be more trusting.

    if she is truly borderline, however, or unstable, then bets are off. It's just I usually see more ISFJs go for OCD behavior or masochistic behavior, not borderline. And you ARE the "new flame," so you are already rubbing elbows with her in a position that used to be hers. Tread carefully.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

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  5. #5
    Senior Member cafe's Avatar
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    I can't help you with the ex, but I have two high functioning autistic sons. If you need any help troubleshooting that part, feel free to look me up.
    “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

  6. #6
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    Thanks everyone! I actually feel a lot better already from reading these.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tewt View Post
    Well, first I think it would be really hard to accurately type someone without meeting them.
    For sure. This is an initial guess only. However, the "problem areas" for ISFJs on PersonalityPage.com sound exactly like her.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tewt View Post
    Although when one parent is a consistent bad-mouther that is not a good sign imo.
    I know - but they haven't been split up that long (1-2 years, depending on how you define "split") so I'm cutting him some slack. He normally apologises for talking about her too much, so he knows he's doing it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tewt View Post
    -listen to the bio parents boundaries.(both your boyfriend and Mom) This can be a tricky one, but it is like anything else...pick your battles. No matter how "right" you are, you're still wrong when it comes to his/her children. This is something to evaluate before moving in together as well, is his parenting style compatible with you?
    -stay out of the other parents home, refrain from airing your judgements about Mom's poor nutritional offering to the children. Get it through your head now, it is a nunya to you. Trust me on this one, if you get this one down it will save your life a lot of drama.
    -stay out of major decisions. Meaning medical, school etc. Your input will not be welcome, unless it is asked for do not give to the other parent.
    Oh - I'm totally doing all those things anyway. Not interesting in imposing my own rules or making decisions. Whatever rules and boundaries they have already set, I'll follow those. (They seem to be working well - coz from what I can tell, both kids - including the autistic one - are really well-behaved.)

    The food one made me smile though! My BF complains that the kids have boring tastes in foods and I had this idea of trying to expand their horizons a bit, perhaps even moving away from gluten and dairy for the autism thing. Guess I won't now!

    Quote Originally Posted by Tewt View Post
    -YOU need to evaluate before getting involved with BF's children what your dealbreakers are. Too many people get involved with a person with children and then claim they didn't know what they were in for, meanwhile dragging kids back and forth through drama. Are you going to be ok with babysitting frequently? Who will do their laundry, clean up etc? Bedtimes, bedrooms, kitchen rules, every single boundary you can think of....all need to be discussed, PRIOR to the move. The last thing you want is resentment to build up and the children start noticing. Or to get yourself trapped in an undesirable situation.
    Thank you. I hadn't thought of that and I guess you're right. I know a weakness I have is to tend to be a doormat and agree with whatever's suggested to me, so I could see myself doing housework for them and stuff.

    Although, BF only has access to the kids every second weekend, so it's not a full-time thing, and the housework won't be so much of an issue.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tewt View Post
    On a sidenote, be prepared for any special needs children to come with a lot of extra care.
    Oh, I'm well aware of that. Doing my research on that right now, and that's what a lot of the meeting will be about.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tewt View Post
    As far as meeting Mom, I would not concentrate on appealing to her feeling side (no matter how much of an F you think she is.) Mom's are on the look out for anything odd about people dealing with their children, she will pick up on any sort of fakeness and will start to scrutinize you even harder. Listen to her, have questions prepared related to the disabled son that you can ask her, and be yourself.
    Thanks again. I had thought of bringing prepared questions too. And the autism book with lots of sticky notes and highlights on it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    Stable ISFJ women usually will act cordial in a meeting -- they know what is appropriate -- but might stew later or get passive-aggressive depending on maturity level. (This is unlike ESFJ, which is far more likely to act out publicly.)
    OK. Oh well - I think I prefer passive-aggressive to aggressive-aggressive. Just.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    I would guess the One Big Thing Not To Do is act like you are her replacement or vying to be her replacement. If you step on her mom turf, you might as well have stuck your head in a momma bear maw after slapping her babies around. Avoid violating the established social roles. That is the one sure way to rile an ISFJ mom and maybe get her to break her social reticence. That means you should really avoided telling her how to parent, arguing with her or criticizing her parent skills right now. You need to give her deference as the mom of the kids and his first wife and not "step out of your place" (from her perspective). Once she knows you are not trying to steal her position or play a role that is hers, she will generally be more trusting.
    Oh, I'm not even slightly interested in taking her role, or changing her rules. And the one thing I know about her that is great is her parenting skills. I am going to think about a way to tell her that without sounding patronising.

    Quote Originally Posted by cafe View Post
    I can't help you with the ex, but I have two high functioning autistic sons. If you need any help troubleshooting that part, feel free to look me up.
    Thank you. I think I'll need all the help I can get. :eek:

  7. #7
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    1-2 years is and isn't a long amount of time. My main concern would be how he feels about it. If he apologizes that is ok, but thats not the problem. The problem is that he is still ranting/raving about her. Its one thing to move on fast to another relationship without kids, but when there is kids and it's a serious (talking about moving in) relationship this would be kinda biggie red flag to me. One of the biggie's in stepfamilies is making sure both bio parents are ok when dealing with each other. That means taking their time to process their divorce/separation and learning how to co-parent together afterwards. Too many times a new stepparent interferes (intentional/unintentional) with that. And that is not in the best interests of the children.

    And not to mention men have rather repeated patterns in finding new mates quickly after divorce to have a "mom" in the home. You've got to really be blunt with yourself and your boyfriend about these issues. It's usually a happy, go lucky time when finding love but when there are kids its best to really talk and talk and talk some more. Find out where your boyfriends head is at with all this. Ask the tough questions, don't assume you are on the same wavelength about everything cause chances are -- you aren't. Google stepfamily sites and see the common problems and really think to yourself is this what you want.

    Good call on not changing food patterns. My DD's father has had 3 women move in with him (he married this last one) and every single one tried to change some thing. Honest to god, I think they thought I was an idiot. DD's father had every other weekend visitation, I have no idea why they thought they knew my daughter better or had more say than her pediatrician. That was the most annoying thing ever. In my opinion I thought they were trying to show how motherly they could be to her father, but all they were doing was causing headaches. His wife now has settled down, but damn it was a rough time for DD every time one of them moved in and wanted to test their parenting skills.

    Anyway, its good that you are checking this all out now and I don't mean to be all doom and gloom. Just be very realistic. Wish you luck.

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