Be your best self
The ISTJ's word is as good as gold, and they honor their commitments faithfully. They believe that to do otherwise would be nothing less than a breach of honor and trustworthiness. Consequently, they take their vows very seriously, and once they have said "I do", that means they are bound to the relationship until "death do us apart" or otherwise. ISTJs are driven to fulfill their responsibilities and duties, and will do so with tireless effort. They will do their best to meet the obligations presented by the different relationship roles which they play during their lives, i.e. spouse, parent, offspring, etc. They may have difficulty showing warmth, but they frequently feel it in abundance, and most develop the ability to show it through sheer effort. If nothing else, the ISTJ holds the gold medal of all the personality types for Effort. They will put forth tremendous amounts of effort to accomplish goals which are important to them. If healthy relationships are among these goals, you can bet that the ISTJ will do everything that they can to foster and maintain healthy relationships.
Each type has traits and behaviors that can strengthen their relationhips. Most ISTJs will exhibit the following strengths with regards to relationship issues.
The first step in overcoming our weaknesses is identifying them and recognizing them in our own behavior. Once we've done that, we begin to naturally correct our weaker behaviors in real-time. ISTJs may recognize some or all of the following behaviors that can negatively impact the health of their relationships.
"To love means to open ourselves to the negative as well as the positive - to grief, sorrow, and disappointment as well as to joy, fulfillment, and an intensity of consciousness we did not know was possible before." —Rollo May
ISTJs are committed, loyal partners, who will put forth tremendous amounts of effort into making their relationships work. Once they have made a commitment to a relationship, they will stick with it until the end. They gladly accept their duty towards fulfilling their role in the relationship. ISTJs are generally willing and able to do anything which they have defined as a goal. So, if maintaining a good relationship is important to the ISTJ, they are likely to have a good relationship. If they have not added this goal to their internal "list" of duties, they are likely to approach the relationship in their "natural" state, which is extremely practical, traditional, and structured.
Sexually, the ISTJ is likely to approach intimacy from a physical perspective, rather than as an opportunity to verbally express love and affection. They usually have a problem expressing their deepest feelings, even though they may be very strongly felt. They will expect sex on a relatively scheduled basis, and are likely to honor traditions regarding gender role-playing. Male ISTJs will assert their perspective on their partners, while female ISTJs will tend to follow along with what their male counterparts want (although they will be uncomfortable with anything extremely out of the traditional norm).
ISTJs do not feel threatened by constructive criticism or conflict situations. When faced with criticism, the ISTJ is likely to believe that their point of view is correct. They have a tremendous amount of respect for facts, and base their opinions on known facts and logic. Consequently, they have a hard time seeing the viability of viewpoints which don't match their own. When the ISTJ gets involved in a disagreement over a point, they usually begin to attempt to recruit the other person over to their own point of view, fully believing that they are right, and that the other individual simply needs to understand the facts of the situation. In such situations, the ISTJ may or may not be right, but their confidence in their own "rightness" can shake the confidence of others involved. This habit can quickly turn conversations into "win-lose" situations, and can present a special problem in intimate relationships. While the ISTJ may inadvertantly shake the confidence of their colleagues with their "I'm right" approach, the same behavior can cause serious issues with intimate partners, who are likely to get the impression that the ISTJ doesn't value their opinion. If the ISTJ has a partner with a strong Feeling preference, they may inadvertantly wreak havoc with their self-esteem, since Feeling individuals are extremely sensitive to conflict and criticism, and are especially vulnerable in their intimate relationships.
Since ISTJs make decisions using the Thinking function (rather than Feeling), they are not naturally likely to consider their partners feelings and emotions in daily living. This may be a problem if their partners have the Feeling preference, since Feeling individuals usually expect a lot of positive affirmation, which the ISTJ does not naturally communicate to them. The ISTJ needs to remember that others may need to hear that they are loved and valued, even if the ISTJ doesn't need to hear this themself.
ISTJs are generally very capable and efficient at most things which they endeavor. Consequently, their partners are likely to hold a good amount of respect for them. Daily concerns are likely to be well-provided for by the ISTJ. If other concerns, such as emotional needs, are pointed out to the ISTJ as important issues for their partners, the ISTJ will rise to the occasion and add the task of addressing these needs to the internal "list" of duties. Since the ISTJ is so willing to work hard at issues, and so tireless at performing tasks which they feel should be done, the ISTJ generally makes a wonderful, caring partner who is willing and able to promote a healthy, lasting relationship which is also a partnership.
Although two well-developed individuals of any type can enjoy a healthy relationship, the ISTJ's natural partner is the ESFP, or the ESTP. ISTJ's dominant function of Introverted Sensing is best matched with a partner whose personality is dominated by Extraverted Sensing. More on ISTJ compatibility
"You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth...
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable." —Kahlil Gibran
ISTJs are faithful and devoted parents who can be counted on to put forth their very best efforts towards raising their children in positive, comfortable, secure homes, and to promote their growth in such a way that they will become secure adults who know their place in life within our society. Such is the greatest goal of an ISTJ parent toward their child.
Along the path towards this goal, the ISTJ expects that their children honor their traditional familial roles. As parents, they demand respect and authority from their children. They willingly accept their parental role of provider and guardian. Once the ISTJ becomes a parent, it becomes a "given" that they will perform all of the duties associated with parenthood, and they will do so without grudge or burden. However, they expect that their children give them their due respect in return, and will have little patience with disrespectful behavior.
When it comes to disciplining children, the ISTJ will be able to do so when necessary without too much internal trauma. They see it as their duty to teach their children when they've done wrong, and so will administer the discipline in the name of the greater cause of doing their duty towards their children. Not to imply that the ISTJ will enjoy disciplining their children, they simply will put their duties before their personal feelings.
The ISTJ is likely to have a problem giving a lot of positive affirmation and support to their children. Having very high expectations for their own behavior and the behavior of others, the ISTJ often forgets to give praise when praise is due. All children need positive support as they find their place in the world, and this is especially true for children with the Feeling preference, who benefit tremendously from positive affirmation, and suffer (sometimes tremendously) in its void. The ISTJ who recognizes sensitivity in their child should take special care to give them positive support and affirmation.
The ISTJ will create a consistent, secure environment for their children, with definite roles and boundaries. Although this may at times create division between the parent and child (especially during rebellious adolescence), it will generally promote the child's growth into a secure adult. ISTJ parents will be remembered and honored by their children for being good people who always tried their best, and for putting the needs of their children above their own.
Although friendships do not rank highest in the ISTJ's list of important relationships (whose duties and obligation to the Family rank above all else), they do have value these relationships and put effort into enhancing and maintaining them. The ISTJ is likely to choose to be around people who have similar interests and perspectives to their own, and are likely to not have much patience with people who are very different from themselves.
Although their usual mode of being is very serious-minded, ISTJs are social creatures who like to have fun and let loose. They like being with Extraverts who are optimistic and fun-minded, although the E's enthusiasm may eventually get on the ISTJ's nerves. ISTJs can get along with most other types, but they especially form solid connections with other Sensing Judgers. The ISTJ's respect for laws and traditions may make them unable to relate well to Sensing Perceiving types, although they admire their carefree ability to live for the moment. And conversely, the Sensing Perceiving types may see the ISTJ's need for structure as too conservative or scheduled for their tastes. ISTJs seem to get along well with Intuitives, although they cannot relate to all of the Intuitives perspectives.