My Extroversion, His Introversion: Finding Balance

my extroversion, his introversion: finding balance

I am an extrovert.

If you spent just a few minutes in my space, you’d have no doubt about it.

You would hear my thoughts — all of them, out loud — at the moment at which they occur. Those thoughts would be “in process,” meaning not entirely in “final draft” form. Which is why you might also hear me say things like, “Wait… that’s not what I really mean!” and “You’re sifting through this with me, right?”

I’d likely offer you tea hoping that you’d stay for a while to share all of your thoughts and feelings, too – maybe even your whole life story? – and when you’d get up to leave, I might give you a hug, because I’d be feeling that energized by our connection.

Spending just a few minutes of time in my husband’s space, however, would pretty much be the opposite.

The number of words exchanged would be exponentially smaller; any statements you hear would be thoughts honed to perfection in his mind before they come out of his mouth; a hug would NOT be part of the equation; and afterward, he’d probably need a nap.

Clearly, balancing the extroverted me with the introverted him is tricky. He prefers quiet to my loud; time alone to my need for others; strategic goal-setting to my spontaneous improvisation; evenings at home to my search for adventure; thinking silently to my processing aloud.

But after 22 years of marriage, I’ve come to understand and appreciate, respect and honor truths in a few key areas:

On Silence vs. Noise:

Silence {now} means deep discussion {later}. When my husband comes home from work, I can hardly stand it!  I want to know ALL about his day: who he saw, what he learned, how God was working in him, where he went for lunch, what he ate. {I can sometimes be a little overbearing. There. I admit it.}

I used to be hurt when, as he walked through the door, I’d barely get a greeting let alone any details of his day.  But now I realize the greatest gift I can give him is quiet space to unwind. Usually that little bit of tranquility turns into a gift for me: deep discussion together later.

On Being Alone vs. Communing:

Solitude renews. Even though I’m an extrovert, I absolutely understand the rejuvenation that comes with refreshing alone time.  But I also know that he needs more solitude than me for restored energy, and that’s ok!  Sometimes I will take the girls to the park for a few hours to give my guy some time by himself at home. In the long run, a husband’s “recharged batteries” translate into memorable family connectedness.

On Planning vs. Improvising:

Meticulous planning triggers spontaneous fun. When we go on vacation, my husband spends hours putting together a “vacation binder.”

This used to drive me CRAZY, because… a daily itinerary on vacation? SERIOUSLY?!

But… when his information is gathered and organized into a plan that assures him he is making the most of every. last. vacation. moment, something begins to relax in him, and ¡Voila! — he becomes Mr. Spontaneous Fun Boy. {Be still my extroverted heart!}

On Creating Single-handedly vs. Creating Together:

Time to think inspires creativity. Introverts are wildly creative! The problem is that we extroverts take up a good bit of their thought space by thinking out loud at them. {Or maybe that’s just how it goes down here at our house?}

My husband can be completely brain-fried in the idea-department, take a 25 minute shower, and come out with a 42-point, 10-year life plan. {I kid you not.}

On Processing Internally vs. Processing Externally:

Listening, thinking and speaking {in that order} produce calm. Introverts are looking at this statement going, “Duh.”

But extroverts… welllll… while we know that {in theory} this is the best conversational order, we still speak first {because we process externally}, and then we think about what it is we just said.  And somewhere in there we {might} listen.

If you’re struggling in your marriage because your extroverted self is mismatched with an introvert, don’t despair!  I’m living proof that it can work.

I won’t pretend that it has been easy {because let me tell you, it is work sister!!}, but it is my experience that in God’s economy, the quicker I lay down my own needs and desires to meet the needs of my husband, the more my needs and desires are met!

It’s just how God rolls.

Blessings,

Rhonda

How do you balance extroversion and introversion in your marriage?  What would you tell a friend who is struggling in this area?

This post is part of our series Finding Balance as a Busy Mom. 

Please check the series page for all of the posts! 

Finding Balance as a Busy Mom

 

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Comments

  1. Rina Fradette says

    This is my husband & I exactly. I spent the first 10 years of our relationship not getting it. I used to get so frustrated when he would take forever to answer a question & then answer it for him so then he would get frustrated because I didn’t let him think it through. One year on vacation at a cabin I invited friends & family to come stay so every two days we would switch houseguests. I came home thinking it was the best vacation we’d ever had. My poor husband came home drained. The next year he laid down the law & said no houseguests. He came home rejuvenated & I came home exhausted. We slowly figured out balance. We took the Alpha Marriage course & discovered the differences between introverts & extroverts & why we had so much frustration with each other. Since then we’ve made a real effort to accommodate each other’s needs. This summer marks 17 years for us :)

    • Rhonda says

      Oh Rina… YES… the taking forever to answer a question used to drive me nuts! But I’ve learned to wait (even though the waiting is really, really, really hard), and the waiting has been good for my soul. :) Your vacation story is SUCH a great illustration of the differences! I’m glad you got so much out of the marriage course; it sounds like a good one.

  2. Stephanie Ramey says

    Rhonda, I am eagerly awaiting showing my husband this article….of course after he is home and had his “quiet” time!! Fits to a “T”…….the “time to think inspires creativity” part especially, he all but HAS to walk away from me sometimes to get his thoughts collected because I never seem to shut up, but when he does come back it is always with a well organized plan!! I, too, remember the frustration early in our marriage…..the what I called “silent treatment” after a fight was really just him processing. Taking FOREVER to make “big purchases” because he hadn’t finished doing research on them( that has probably saved us a ton, because I am “a lets just get it” type of woman). Thanks for sharing!!

    • Rhonda says

      Stephanie! YES to the “silent treatment.” The introversion vs. extroversion thing REALLY comes into play during an argument, am I right?? I would always want to stay and duke it out with lots and lots of words (and tears, of course), and he would just be like, No… and walk to another room for what seemed like hours. But alas… his absence wasn’t some sort of a punishment… it really was his way of processing what had happened. Plus, he’d usually come out of the silence with a plan and a solution. Bonus! :)

      • Heather Mask says

        Yes! Not only is this so true and definitely helpful in relating (especially when emotions run high), but it’s so helpful in recognizing that my husband’s differences can also be beneficial. I need to continue to better understand him and validate his special strengths.

  3. JoBeth says

    WOW! My 7 yr old son and I are the extroverts! My husband is definitely the introvert. We are coming up on our 10th Anniversary & I must say I wish I would have had this information years ago! LOL! Now I am trying to silence my extroverted heart and that of my son’s so we can allow my husband some much needed peace and quiet time. With being a stay at home Mom and homeschooling I am so ready for “adult” time & conversation.

    Thank you so much for sharing. :)

  4. says

    Haha – I LOVED this post!! I can relate – I am an extrovert to my husband’s introvert as well. It used to drive me crazy but after 32 years of marriage, I am adapting. :) I’ve come to appreciate silence and am also incredibly thankful for our differences because God has used them to help me mature in ways I’ve needed to mature!

  5. says

    O man, I needed to read this article! I feel like you could have described my husband and I. We still bump up against moments when this introversion/extroversion difference burns. BUT, by God’s grace, we are becoming more gracious with each other. I absolutely still fail, but am becoming more aware of what he needs from me. Having said that, we printed out that “10 Ways to Love an Introvert/Extrovert” list and taped it on our fridge! It’s a great reminder to scan over regularly and remember the practical ways I can love my introvert!

  6. Heather Mask says

    Thank you! I’ve really enjoyed the balance series, but this article has been the most validating and helpful so far. Sometimes lately I’ve questioned myself in new conversations, because I didn’t feel I was being as concise and coherent as the other person. Now I understand more clearly how the extrovert vs. introvert dynamic works in new and established relationships. My husband appreciates but struggles with all the attention from our children when he walks in the door after work. He does so much better when he can set things down and set down to chat with the kids. I’ve also noticed how much more he talks about his day after the children are in bed and he’s had some quiet thinking time.

  7. Lisa says

    Rhonda, this made me Laugh Out Loud! You and Mitchell do a beautiful job of blending your very opposite personalities.

  8. Anna says

    I find it difficult to say that the more I give him space and patience in him being introvert will result more getting my needs met later. It worked very differently the last 12 years. He got really comfortable with it and not rewarding. I know it sounds like selfish towards my part but as an extrovert you can really get emotionally burned-out because of this difference. We are trying to make balance again but it’s really difficult.
    I admire your story! And I try to keep believing that for us will also work out somehow.

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