My husband and I were married in 1988. While you do the math, I want to mention in passing that we had not taken any personality tests at the time, so we were blissfully unaware that we were both TJs. The fact that he had firmly decided against getting married before we were both twenty years old should have raised a flag, but at the time it seemed like common sense.

This is what it looks like when two TJs Think an idea through and Judge it with an identical foregone conclusion: a nice, straight line. Common sense also dictated that marriage was going to be challenging on many levels and we were prepared to approach the institution with eyes open and smart decision making.

There was no way to see the years of confusion ahead.

Welcome to Our Crazy (OverThinkers Anonymous)

When you’ve been married as long as we have, I’m able to finish his sentences. I just don’t finish them with his thoughts. The palm trees in our yard need trimming, and we both agree with that thought. I think they need trimming now, as the unsightly mess is what I judge to be important, and he thinks they should be trimmed later, to time the trim with the largest ratio of mess to cleanup possible. His delayed satisfaction is my daily irritation, and it wouldn’t be a problem except that we are both right.

When you marry a TJ with a TJ, you get strong planning, decision making, hard working spouses. We are either going full speed ahead with a common goal or tangling in the harness and falling apart when a situation involves overthinking, conflicting judgement calls, or a complete lack of communication. It doesn’t occur to us to ask each other about decisions that seem obvious but if our partner does have a different opinion, we settle in for a long, intelligent discussion wherein we explain to each other that we are right and why.

We are honest. We are sincere. We only want what’s best for us. We are also loud, blunt, and don’t bother censoring our talk if others are around because, naturally, they would be on our side. From the outside looking in, we vie for the domination of the free world on a regular basis. But on the inside, we are trying to understand how to separate a fact from an opinion.

Why the Closet is our Alamo (Judgement Day)

My husband will never be without his opinions, most of which I have memorized for convenience. I know that when we dress for any given event, he will already have my clothing picked out in his head. I know that he will wait for me to choose an outfit and then offer his suggestions on it. He knows that I will push back with why what I am wearing is appropriate to the occasion. He knows that if he continues to offer his help, we will take it to the death right there in the closet.

A TJ never bothers lying because his truth comes from a place of love and sincerity. This does not good manners make. Were we as effusive with compliments and verbal appreciation, we would be out of character. Our radar is built for picking up anomalies and deviations from straight lines, and our words reflect a constant movement towards a harmony of the whole. Things within this area of expectation are taken for granted to the extent that leaves little room for emotional subtly or the sweet nothings that cushion the sharp edges in a marriage.

Winning at Life

TJs love long range goals. No strangers to hard work, we found it deeply satisfying to follow our visions together over the years. He plans to retire in the same office that hired him over thirty years ago and contributes in many capacities in the church we’ve always attended. I stayed home to raise five kids, gardened, and volunteered. Traditional and conventional perhaps, but sharing similar ways of thinking and judging vastly improves fundamental situations in a marriage that could break you otherwise.

Because we both value things like financial security, we keep spending in check and run a tight budget happily. You can’t remodel your house three times over and send kids to college without the reliability and stability of a spouse who shares your visions.

Not that he hasn’t put his back out more than once because there is only one right way to hang drywall and no one else could possibly do it besides himself. And not that I didn’t run into a lot of brick walls because there is only one right way to raise children…you know they don’t run in straight lines, right?

Advice from the Battlefront

Yes, you can marry your match. The sooner you know what to expect in your marriage, the faster you will understand how to pool your strengths and work around your weaknesses for the benefit of your marriage. TJs might always be right, but they are never bored.

Here are some ideas on ways you can improve your TJ / TJ relationship:

1.    Did you think a thought? Resist the impulse to immediately share it. Breathe deeply and Judge whether sharing will open a fresh contest or simply forward the moment. Confirm your intentions.

2.    Sharing your thought could result in your spouse reacting with an immediate three corresponding thoughts, two of which will refute or rebut yours. Understand that this is not a personal challenge but an attempt to enhance your original thought.

3.    If you form a negative Judgement about these thoughts, your face will betray you. Consider using your phone to state your intentions (step 1). Texting forces you to slow down and edit out the eye rolls, sighs, and accompanying tone of voice.

4.    Choose your battles wisely. You don’t need to circle around these thoughts and judgement calls ad nauseam, it’s okay to agree to disagree. Save your energy for better things. Like sex.

5.    When your wife asks for your opinions on her dress, you may state them then and not before. Healthy boundaries are a good idea. Consider setting “opinion-free” zones that allow each of you to make mistakes and grow from them as individuals without it becoming an issue in the marriage.

6.    Apologies are a thing. Give yourself permission to be wrong occasionally, even when you know down in your soul that you are right. Your spouse will know that you know that. She knows nothing will change tomorrow, but the fact that you care will go a long way towards her being able to live with it.

7.    Compliments are also a thing. Although it seems superfluous. Although it feels odd to state the obvious. Get into the habit of verbalizing at least one kind, loving, generous thought per day and work your way up from there. Every criticism should be couched between two compliments.

8.    Get some hobbies outside of the home and marriage. Please. Use that good advice and gift of drawing up battle plans for an upcoming camping trip with the boys or a weekend away with the ladies. It reduces the volume at home and replaces it with epic stories for your spouse about how you - once again - saved the day.

9.    Use solitary tools like yoga, running, or meditation to train your TJ impulses to slow down and become aware of how you present yourself to others. Practice stating your intentions so that your thinking and judging strengths can be better directed to your goals and avoid being interpreted as angry or personal.

10.  Celebrate your achievements! No-one said marriage would be easy, but TJs have a tendency to use achievements as stepping-stones or an impetus to strive harder. TJs need to stop and be grateful for the things they’ve done right. Acknowledge each others contributions and honor the life you are building together.

Jolie Tunnell
Jolie Tunnell is an author, freelance writer and blogger with a background in administration and education. Raising a Variety Pack of kids with her husband, she serves up hard-won wisdom with humor, compassion and insight. Jolie is an ISTJ and lives in San Diego, California where she writes historical mysteries. Visit her at