My Extroversion, His Introversion: Finding Balance

Comment

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