"Married To A..." will be a series focused on the lessons we've learned from being married to our spouses. Each spouse brings a different set of perspectives, passions, and preferences into a marriage. Sometimes these differences cause major clashes. Other times, they provide teachable moments that bring a couple closer together. For better or for worse, right?
To kick off the series, I'll be writing about the unexpected lessons I learned as an extrovert who is married to an introvert. My hope is that this will turn into a regular series of guest posts. But for now, here's my story!
My husband and I went to my hometown for New Years weekend and I had know idea it would be so jam packed with so many events. Saturday was dinner with some neighbors from the street we grew up on. Sunday was lunch with close friends of the family. And New Years Eve was a party thrown by more former neighbors I hadn't seen in years. It was shaping up to be quite the weekend and as excited as I was to catch up with people over the holidays, the first thought that came to my mind was, "How is the husband going to handle all of this?"
This comes as a surprise to many who meet him, but my husband is an introvert. I say that it comes as a surprise because I wouldn't characterize my husband as shy or quiet by any means. Dude can talk. Trust me. And around people he knows? He loves being the center of attention. With people he doesn't know? He can talk to pretty much anyone and is just a really nice guy.
So when he first told me that he was introvert, I didn't really believe him. If he wasn't shy or quiet and had decent social skills, than what exactly made him introverted? As it turns out, my perception of introverts was way off base. Yes, there are people who are painfully shy and socially awkward; I'm sure those people would self-define as introverts. But not all introverts fall into the extreme end of the spectrum.
There are introverts like my husband: talkative and friendly with a warm personality who actually get physically and emotionally exhausted from being around large groups of people, especially people they don't know. My husband gets tired from small talk, from introducing himself, from being around people he hasn't met. Sometimes the thought of going out overwhelms him. He loves being by himself. He would literally spend days by himself playing video games if I let him. Which I don't.
As a total extrovert to the core, I did not understand this at all. On any level. I hate being by myself. I appreciate alone time for a few hours here and there, but for the most part I would rather be around other people. I get energized by being in large groups. I feel reinvigorated after a night out with my girlfriends.
I feel like I didn't really understand the depths of my husband's introversion until we got married. I wondered why he didn't call his friends to hang out more often. I got annoyed when he was hesitant about going to one of my friend's parties. I was shocked when we hosted a party in our apartment and found him hiding out in our bedroom!
It was a challenge for my extroverted self to not put a negative judgment value on my husband's introverted ways. He isn't just making excuses. He really needs the time by himself in order to function, or else he will burn out. I can't take it personally if he doesn't want to go out or wants to be by himself. Getting used to my husband in full on introvert mode was difficult at first, but now I'm so used to it.
I make sure to give him a good chunk of time alone if I can sense he's been cranky or tired or overwhelmed. I don't bug him (as much!) to go out if he really doesn't feel like it. In the case of our New Years weekend, he was such a trooper and was super nice and charming to everyone he met. But New Years Day? I made sure he had plenty of time to himself to relax and recharge.
Being married to someone so completely opposite of me in this respect was more challenging than I would have thought. But it takes effort on both our parts to make sure that we are understanding and supportive of what the other person needs. As an extrovert, I know that I need to do my part to not make my husband feel guilty about the way he was wired. And I'm sure my husband has plenty of stories of how he has to care for his extrovert wife! But that's a blog post for another day.
Anyone else have some insights from the introvert-extrovert combination in your marriage? Anyone have a double introvert or extrovert combo in their relationship? What are some tips and strategies that you use to help support your introverted or extroverted spouse? Let me know in the comments!
Think you want to contribute to my "Married To A..." series? Email me: alyssa[at]allthingsbeautifulblog[dot]com.
Oh and check out this fun infographic I found on Rage Against the Minivan! Perfect for today's post right?