INTP guy in LTR with ENTJ gal - help me understand you!


#1

I’m an INTP guy in need of some insight from you ENTJs if you care to humour me. In particular female ENTJs with a bit of life experience.

Firstly let me just say I’m in awe of the capabilities of ENTJs to handle incredible amounts of tasks and responsibilities. It’s staggering and impressive.

That said, my ENTJ wife has a tendency to respond to increased responsibility with increased effort, seemingly with no upper limit. When these times of high responsibility happen (usually with work) I notice that she withdraws her softer/goofier side very quickly and becomes something like a field marshall at home, keeping conversations strictly to logistics, planning and anything relevant in that regard. Being an INTP I completely don’t mind the alone time required to focus (god knows I love that myself) but I’m a little sensitive and I struggle with her blunt and harsh side which makes me withdraw from interacting until she softens up. It means the things that I value most, like soft edges, intimacy and interesting conversation, are sacrificed. If I make overt demands for them she will schedule something in but I can tell she never truly switches off until “her job is done”. Perhaps the most frustrating thing about her switching off her softer approach is that she denies there’s any change at all! Communication is interpretive granted, but I can tell a difference in demeanour sure as hell.

For the most part I’ve accepted this, but the constant cycles of withdrawal over time could be a problem. Guess it’s the classic “emotional unavailability” thing again (sorry).
We were also making plans for having our first child soon and we all know how much of a strain kids take on career-focussed folk; should I be worried?


#2

Ouch. Wow, you really nailed that analysis. I hate this aspect of myself. When I am trying to finish something, I can’t think or concentrate on anything else. Some things cause a more severe form of focus than others. What stage of life are y’all in? What is she focused on right now? If it’s work, then I would just leave her alone while working. If it’s a long standing project, I would schedule time because she needs permission to turn her brain off. For me the intensity of distraction can change based on stages of life. The best way to get me out of that mode is to help me accomplish my goal or get to the completion of a step where I can then relax. My husband gets frustrated with me because in the mornings he tries to hug and love on me, but I feel like a trapped animal when he does it. He is an ENTJ as well, but for some reason that must also be the male/female divide. Women are ultimate multitaskers. My mind is thinking about all the things I need to do, so him giving me a bear hug to stop me from making my coffee and feeding the kids drives me nuts. But he still does it everyday, and I try to reciprocate. But at night when everything is at a stopping point, I am loving and more relaxed. ENTJ’s are very project driven, and some projects are all encompassing until they are done.

As far as being scared of having a kid, that all depends on her viewpoint. Does she plan on going full steam with her job while adding a child? Or is she trying to accomplish something now she can’t do when she first has a child? Does she acknowledge the added challenge or is she in denial? I worked hard up until I had my kids, but my dream was to stay home with them until they were 4 or 5. I am doing that. So we can turn it off when we want to. My ENTJ friend is selling her business because she thought she could do it and be a SAHM at the same time, but it was too much. I tried to work part time as a consultant with my first and realized I couldn’t and quit. So I think we do have limits. I favor a balanced life; however, a goal can temporarily throw that balance off for awhile.


#3

What a brilliant response! A lot of the things you said I can totally see in her, even more clearly now in fact.
She definitely has that focus most of the time where it’s about getting the list of tasks done in her head that she’s thought to be required for that day. Woe betide anyone who gets in her way! I can see and accept that this is the case, but being an INTP I’m just not driven by the same motivation. So having to schedule things like closeness is tough. Guess this comprimise business is what long term partnership is all about…!

To answer some of your questions, we’re married and looking to start a family. We’re both engineers and earn a similar amount. She definitely puts a lot of focus on her career which is a big worry for me, no matter how equal the world is, when it comes to kids women have to carry them, birth them, nurse them etc a lot in the early days. I’m not sure how she’ll be able to juggle all our current balls without something giving. I just don’t want it to be our relationship. I really respect your approach in that you decided that stay-at-home mum was what you were aiming for, keeps your expectations realistic and I know that you, being an ENTJ, will knock it out of the park!

I also think your last sentence is very insightful, it sums up my fears very well. I’m afraid that my wife will struggle to know where her limits are (she often bites off more than I think she should chew) or just choose a completely unrealistic level which puts a strain on our relationship. I’m not the easiest of types to live with, being quite unscheduled in my demands for affection and intimacy (comes with the INTP territory).

Trick for me is to not take her dismissive attitude too personally when she’s “in the zone”!

Another deep question I’ve always wondered the answer to, how do ENTJ’s generally approach close intimacy and sex? Is it like a “fulfilling and necessary task to be done” so to speak or do they actually feel any deep sense of connection and completeness, worthy of the act itself?


#4

I think it’s sweet that you are trying to understand her. Is she into MBTI too? She might try to self regulate more if she understands herself in relation to others. I think one of the best things that MBTI provides is the ability to understand that not everyone operates the same, so it changes the way we see the world and expectations. ENTJs are full of expectations, because it’s in our nature to expect alot of ourselves and thus others. I would presume she loves your ability to detach easily, be more light hearted, while also being a source of intellectual stimulation. My husband and I are both ENTJs, so that offers it’s own set of challenges, because we can play off each other’s energy to the point where we are forgetting to relax, slow down, and really enjoy the small things. So as I’m sure it’s hard being the one that gets her out of head, I would bet money that she really appreciates and endears that side of you.

So I appreciate where you are coming from with the concerns of having a family, because it is hard and life changing. We have a 3 and 2 year old. I would talk with her about it, but when you ask questions don’t focus on specifics, focus on what her ideal relationship with her kids looks like. Ask her if she plans to do activities with them? Does she look forward to storytime, bath time, etc? I would gauge what she wants. If she doesn’t seem excited and vested, and instead sees it as a burden or foresees a daycare/nanny taking on the main role then that might foreshadow what is to come . If she instead wants to be really involved, I would bet that she will reinvent her career path when she has kids. ENTJs are always certain of our paths, but with that we can change paths quickly when we get new information. The trick with kids where I feel most people go wrong is in leaving financial room to change paths. A lot of families prepare for both parents to work and then when they don’t like the setup they can’t get out of it because of their expenses. I was the planner in our relationship in that sense. Our years before kids all my husband heard was about how things played into my plan to stay home. Encourage her now to start planning multiple options of where her career could go. There are so many different formulas for raising kids that work. I think the big thing is going into it as stress free as possible, because they are exhausting! My husband and I joke all the time that as rationals we aren’t natural caregivers, because we overthink everything to the point that it becomes far harder than it should be. My husband is an engineer as well.

As far as biting off more than she can chew, I’m afraid that will never completely go away. I have periods of obsessive projects often followed by a step back in the opposite direction. But I can’t turn off the feeling that so many things need to be complete. It is unrealistic, and I battle that nature. When I was younger I used to think “when this is done, my mind will calm down and I can relax.” Now I’m 36 and realize that my mind never calms down. Some things are worse triggers than others. Awareness is half the battle. Definitely don’t take her dismissive attitude personally. I know it doesn’t make sense, but when we are in the zone a distraction feels like sabotage to finishing the goal. So we can be cranky, but then later question why you are upset.

As far as sex, I only know a few female ENTJs. One is my age, and I think she has a strange, unfulfilling sex life with her husband. She is married to likely a INFP and she has complained to my husband about her sex life and her husband not liking lingerie. It made my husband uncomfortable. So I can speak for myself and say its definitely not a “task to be done.” I enjoy the deep connection and would not want to do it without a connection. I used to think my love language was ‘words of affirmation’, but since kids ‘acts of service’ gets me more ha ha. There is nothing sexier than when my husband works an 18 hour day, but then goes out of his way to do things to help me that I want done around the house. That and deep intellectual conversation always gets me. He is like an animal though. So as bad as it sounds, I often choose when we have sex because he alwaaayyys wants sex. That sounds worse than it is, but with kids I can’t just stop everything.