An Introvert Extrovert Marriage. Sounds about like asking for disaster of epic proportions, right?
But the more couples I talk to, the more I think that whole “opposites attract” thing backfires an awful lot in this particular way.
I myself am an introvert (ISFJ) married, living with, and doing life with, a husband with many extroverted tendencies. Though he technically is an ISTP personality, he scored only ONE point away from being on the extroverted scale and it shows through in so many ways! He hates to be alone, while I relish my quiet time. When I’m out of town he will call up every one of his friends and acquaintances to keep from spending an evening by himself, while I have no problem keeping myself entertained at home with the whole-house-to-myself when he is away!
Though the differences in our relationship are ultimately very rewarding, I can’t deny there have been some difficult obstacles to overcome due to our personality differences. Fortunately with time and patience, we’ve figured out a few tips for making this introvert extrovert marriage of ours work in harmony!
ACKNOWLEDGE THAT YOU ARE DIFFERENT
Just like peanut butter and chocolate- you may go great together, but you are still completely different! The thing that can make an entire world of difference is just being AWARE of your own differences so you can react accordingly to each other.
When your extroverted sweetheart suggests hanging out with friends even though you just went to a work party yesterday, don’t be surprised. Or when your introverted darling isn’t jazzed to go to another social event, realize that it’s actually normal. A healthy introvert/extrovert relationship requires that you stop thinking there is something wrong with the other person and acknowledges that you are just different! Trust me- the sooner you realize that the other person isn’t going to change their entire personality, the sooner you can find a happily-ever-after balance in your social lives!
RESPECT EACH OTHER’S ENERGY NEEDS
One of my favorite ways to think about the difference between Introverts and Extroverts is in terms of energy. Extroverts are rejuvenated and energized by social situations, while Introverts (though they might enjoy them for a time) will find their energy levels drained by the same social gathering.
If you are an Extrovert with an Introverted spouse, respect the fact that they’ll need quiet time after a high activity situation to rest and recharge! And please know that one of the WORST things you can do is make them feel guilty or like they are crazy for needing to step away- it’s not that Introverts are broken, it’s just how our brains are wired.
If you are an Introvert with an Extroverted spouse, respect the fact that they need high activity social encounters in order to keep them from getting BORED. Push yourself to participate in as many of these gatherings as you can without compromising your own mental health, and then encourage them to go to the others without you (and don’t make them feel guilty for doing those things without you!).
SPEAK THE OTHER’S LANGUAGE ONCE IN A WHILE
Marriage is like learning another language as it is (can I get an amen?), but it also can’t hurt to learn a little bit of introvert-ese or extrovert-ese in order to smooth conversation! How do you do that?
Speaking Introvert-ese for Dummies: Pause during your conversations and invite your introvert to engage by directing a question specifically to them. Never interrupt what they are saying or try to jump in and finish their sentences. Just because they are being quiet or not inserting themselves DOES NOT mean they have nothing to contribute- it just means they need to be given an opportunity to engage themselves. Stay on one topic until it has been fully discussed before jumping to a new one or getting distracted.
Speaking Extrovert-ese for Dummies: Show enthusiasm as you listen to your extrovert speak and verbally let them know how you appreciate them. They tend to think out loud (and with vigor) so let them jump from topic to topic without it being fully formed yet. Just because they enjoy a broad variety of subjects and small talk DOES NOT mean they are shallow- it just means they are eager to engage with a lot of people about a variety of things that might interest them. If you need time to process what they are saying, tell them that and get back to them later instead of withdrawing or shutting things down.
CONQUER LIFE TASKS BASED ON PERSONALITY STRENGTHS
Oh boy, does this one make life easier! Why did I not think earlier of dividing our chores and life tasks by our personality strengths??? Once we thought this through and delegated properly, the procrastination on getting things done around the house decreased significantly around here. Here are some examples of how you can structure the household productivity based on personality strengths:
Managing the social calendar
Chauffeuring kids to events/practice/hobbies
Making Phone Calls
Running General Errands
Making the Grocery List
Managing the Daily Calendar
Organizing the Closets
Ultimately, it’s important to let your spouse be who they are, because the truth is…your strengths actually complement each other beautifully!
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Lindsey LaRue is a Georgia Wedding and Anniversary Photographer for Heirloom Couples Who Love Timeless, Romantic, and Legacy-filled Imagery. Serving the Southeastern US and Beyond, Traveling Often.