Our personality something that plays a major role in our marriages. Typically, it seems like we’re drawn to someone different than ourselves. Though it’s not always true, most of the people we know are different than their spouses in this way.
Introversion vs. Extroversion
First, let’s define the difference between introvert and extrovert:
- Introverts get energy from being alone.
- Extroverts get energy from being with other people.
Afton: I think it is a common misconception that when you’re the life of the party around people or you’re charismatic, you’re extroverted. But I’m often drained after lots of time with people and need alone time.
CJ: I am definitely introverted and probably fit the stereotype. Teri was an extrovert in college and I think she’s moved a little more toward being an introvert.
Ted: Nancie is really comfortable on stage and in front of people. So it seems like she’s an extrovert, but she’s really not.
What is an ambivert?
The confusion is that people often think it’s about how you interact with people, but it’s really more about where you get your energy. There is also a third category:
An ambivert is someone who exhibits both qualities of introversion and extroversion- depending on the situation and the people involved. One half to two thirds of people say they’re an ambivert. Here are some questions to help you know:
- Do you crave alone time but also love people?
- Do certain situations/people make you feel outgoing while other situations/people make you quiet and reserved?
- Do you struggle with the labels introverts and extroverts?
What this means
Truth: Personality differences are great opportunities to communicate unconditional love.
We can get so frustrated with a spouse if we haven’t processed who they are and celebrated who they are. How do we make this practical?
If you’re an extrovert married to an introvert:
- Introverts often need time to process. When they speak, it’s been thought out. So you start the conversation, knowing they may need to come back later to finish it. They really do want to talk about themselves, but you may need to be a better listener.
- Know that your introverted spouse needing time alone is not a personal slam towards you. Talk about when it is best for them to get alone time and when you need to reconnect as a couple.
- Many introverts don’t mind talking about themselves. They just need some time to process it and often times an invitation.
- Don’t spring social surprises on your introverted spouse. Saying, “hey, I invited my new friends over for dinner” can be a nightmare for your introverted spouse. It’s OK to have people over, but introverts typically like to have more warning.
- Ask them: what situations/scenes do you dislike the most? Figure out the times that are most draining. Is it big gatherings, medium size gatherings, small gatherings?
- Ask them: when we are in these situations, what do you need from me? Do you want me to pull you out of the corner at partiers or let you stay there?
- Support who they are by giving them time at the end of the day or whenever they need it most. But it is OK to say I love being with you so can we some set time when we are together and you are not alone?
If you’re an introverts married to an extrovert:
- Your extroverted spouse processes issues and problems through talking them out. Giving them time to do that with you is a gift to them.
- Introverts: since you tend to keep things more to yourself, check yourself for being passive aggressive.
- Ask your extroverted spouse:
- Where is your favorite place to get a ‘people fix’?
- What people give you the most energy?
- What are the times that you want me to be with you the most?
The key is to work together and not use your extrovert or introvert personality to give you an excuse to do the things that cause division between you. For example, you shouldn’t say, “I don’t want to be around your family cause I’m an introvert” or “I don’t care if people are over during dinner cause I’m an extrovert”.
Finally, when you feel frustrated with your spouse’s differences, think about specific benefits those differences bring to their lives.
Your one simple thing for this week
Figure out which category you and your spouse fall into. If you already know what category they fall into, ask them the high and low of falling into that category.
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