I recently came across a Type training tool that Otto Kroeger wrote to support a couples workshop he facilitated a number of years ago. This handout was a forerunner to his popular book 16 Ways To Love Your Lover, so this content was authored in the early 1990s.
My wife (ENTJ) and I (INFP) have been married 25 years, and Type has been a tool, a topic, a vocabulary, a framework that has bolstered and even saved us many times. Otto gave me a lot of ideas and advice over the years that still benefits me every day. Reading over this content made me feel that Otto was right back with me, whispering in my ear.
ISTJ–Most Strong and Silent
Praise good behavior. You tend not to praise good behavior because it’s expected, but you should train yourself to add overt pats on the head and words of appreciation, for big or small things, to your list of things to do. And make it a rule to say, “I love you” at least once a week. It’s part of your duty toward your partner.
Be more assertive. Your mate would probably like to tell you, “I appreciate 20 years of loyalty, but I wish you’d get mad once in a while.”
Getting angry with you is like eating cotton candy; you bite into it and it disappears. That’s not constructive for anyone. Try to be more assertive
and less committed to duty and sacrifice at any price.
Show that you know. You’re very aware of people’s feelings; you seldom need an explanation of interpersonal dynamics, but you don’t always do
something about them. You know very well that your mate needs a stroke or an “I love you,” but it’s not your day to give strokes so you clam up.
Push yourself to give when your mate needs it, not only when you feel “inspired.”
Give a hand. You’re very independent, but don’t ask for the same thing from your mate. Give them support and assistance. Don’t let them sink
three times to learn how to swim.
ISTP–Most Skillful with Tools
Be impractical. Lots of exciting ideas for expressing affection pass through your mind, like building your partner a coffee table, or texting him/her “I Love You.” But you put the ideas down as being impractical, stupid or flighty. Don’t argue with yourself; go ahead and act on your affectionate impulses sometimes.
Use words. You think words are cheap and would rather express your affection in more tangible ways, like baking muffins (nothin’ says lovin’ like somthin’ from the oven), or bringing home a huge bouquet. But once in a while use the written or spoken word. Stick a note in the muffin or on the flowers or actually say, “I love you.”
Offer advice. You have a great gift for helping people understand their feelings and feel better about themselves, but you have no confidence that
you’re being of any help. Don’t be so tentative in offering advice, consolation and appreciation to your mate.
Speak from the heart. When you try to use your Thinking to express your love, the meaning can get lost in translation. Share the fact that you feel
love, not only understand it.
Settle down. You love excitement, surprise and variety, but that is not always comforting for a mate. Give more attention to “settling” events. Once in a while, be on time, hang around when things are boring, show respect for family traditions by doing things just the way they were done before.
Stay on track. You are very good at meeting the needs of many people at once, but that means that you may be sidetracked in so many directions you don’t meet the “routine” needs of your mate. An example is the ESFP partner who agrees to a friend’s sudden request for help while his/her mate is at home waiting for a scheduled dinner.
Face today’s problems. Rather than face a disagreeable part of the marriage, you’ll seduce yourself and your spouse into a happier place.
Don’t escape so quickly into your imagination or the future. Try to solve your present problems.
Just do it! You see that details in the house need attending to, but instead of engaging directly with them, you try to design a system that will attend to them. Then when your spouse confronts you with the unfinished work, you still refuse to do it. For the good of the relationship, don’t
worry about being the most clever or beating the system. Just do what needs to be done–right away.
Don’t take it back. Your statements of affection often have an “edge” to them. The slap on the back is a classic example or saying something abrasive like “You’re all right for a _____.” Try not to give affection with one hand and take it back with the other; just come out and say, “I love you.”
Show anger. Your desire to emotionally harmonize or smother means you may sweep problems under the carpet rather than face them. You reach too soon for the chicken soup; the world is not going to come to an end if you show anger. Don’t be afraid to fight.
Allow disagreement. You usually assume that your mate is in complete agreement, and then when they raise a few normal questions, you can
over-personalize it and feel hurt. Allow your mate some room to disagree.
Say I’m sorry. Your drive to control the outcome, win the argument and be right can make apologies very difficult things to offer, for they seem like evidence of incompetence and defeat. When you come on too strong or step over the line interpersonally, the most sensitive, and competent, thing to do is say “I’m sorry.”