My ISTP boyfriend and I (ENFP) are living together for a three-month trial period while we both decide if we want to get married.
Here's the problem:
This impending decision is causing my ISTP a LOT of stress. He doesn't know what happiness is and he's unsure if he's ever experienced it. Ergo, he's unsure if we should get married. He doesn't want to get married unless he knows he's happy. But since he doesn't know what happiness is, how can he be sure? Thus, he is stuck in this eternal logic loop. It's sort of like the koan of ISTP love.
I think that trying to understand if he's "happy" is absolutely the wrong way for my ISTP to approach this decision. Of course I want him to be happy. But, in other areas of his life he almost never uses terms like "want" or "like." He never says, "I'm happy." While he's certainly made major life decisions before now, he says that he never made them because he felt overwhelming joy. Instead, they were the product of a lot of quiet reflection and careful reasoning. For example, he made the decision to go to grad school over 1000 miles from his home state, because he reasoned that this was the next logical step for his career. (Voila Ti.) And while he doesn't regret his decision, it caused him much stress and discomfort in the beginning. But he did it anyway.
So I suggested to my ISTP, that if he waited until he wanted to declare his love on top of a mountain, he was going to wait a very long time because this isn't the way ISTPs thought about the world. I told him that he shouldn't expect to being jumping for joy about getting married. In fact, he would probably feel a lot of discomfort and that was normal for him. "You never jump for joy about anything," says I. "What makes you think this is going to be any different from the way you approach the rest of your life?"
I think he's afraid that if he doesn't feel all gushy about getting married then either there is something wrong with him, or there's something wrong with the relationship. So I'm hoping for some suggestions on how ISTPs make such big decisions.
[BTW, just to clarify, I'm not trying to convince my ISTP to marry me. I'm just trying to help him and support him while he sorts this out himself.]
My ISTP boyfriend will be reading this, btw. Thanks in advance to anyone, regardless of type, who can shed some light on the inner workings of the ISTP mind.