Jon flopped on the sofa and reached for the remote. He was looking forward to a night of nothing, after staying late at the office all week. He pressed the power button and flipped the foot rest up on his La-Z-Boy. That’s when Jane marched in.
“You remember that we have dinner plans with the McCoy’s, don’t you? There’s absolutely no way I’m staying in this stuffy, old house any longer. We stayed home last weekend, and I am NOT doing it again!”
Have you ever found yourself in this situation or one like it? If you’re an introvert married to an extrovert, your answer is probably “Yes.”
While introverts and extroverts complement each other and make a great team, their differences can also drive each other nuts, so what can you do to keep the tone of your marriage positive and work through your differences? Consider these six suggestions.
1. Understand how each other receives love.
All of us want to be loved, but we receive love in different ways. Gary Chapman’s book The 5 Love Languages discusses five ways people receive love:
- Physical touch
- Quality time
- Acts of service
- Words of affirmation
In his book, Chapman explains that a lot of marital strife is the result of one or both partners feeling unloved and having an empty love tank.
Save yourself a lot of hurt feelings and invest in your marriage by determining each other’s love language. (You can take the free test here.) Then, learn ways that you can intentionally love one another on a regular basis. Chapman’s book has some great suggestions for ways to do this.
As an introvert married to an extrovert, you’re going to want to stay home when your spouse wants to go out. It’s inevitable. Either one of you is going to give in, you’ll fight, or you can compromise.
Compromising is simple. Try planning ahead of time what days you’ll go out and what days you’re going to stay home. Will you hit the town on Friday nights? Saturdays? Will your reserve Sundays for staying home and recharging? Talk about it, and decide as a couple.
Whatever you do, make sure that you balance staying home with going out. Try to learn to live with the tension as well. You’ll help your extroverted spouse live a calmer life, and she’ll connect you to the community.
3. Talk about your communication.
Extroverts want to talk. If you’re an introvert married to an extrovert, this is probably hard for you because you’re often okay with silence.
Picture yourself perched at your computer, trying to concentrate. Suddenly, your spouse bursts into the room and interrupts your thoughts to ask you an unimportant question. A fight starts.
You can also see it from your spouse’s point of view. She needs to ask you a simple question, one that doesn’t require much thought, so she pops in the room and politely asks. You say nothing, and her blood starts to boil.
Deciding when you’ll talk and when you’ll be quiet can keep you from driving each other nuts.You’ll get the atmosphere you need to concentrate, and your spouse will get most of her questions answered.
4. Play to your strengths.
My sister is an extrovert, and my brother-in-law is an introvert. She handles the parties and relationships, while he manages the computers and checkbook. Each partner is working in his or her “genius zone.” It’s a win-win relationship.
Are you and your spouse playing to your strengths? Do you know what they are? If you haven’t learned your Myers-Briggs personality type, start there. The better you understand each other, the better you’ll be able to work together by playing to your strengths.
5. Have fun.
As time goes by, life gets busy and responsibilities pile up. If you’re not careful, the two of you will just have a “shoulder-to-shoulder” marriage, as Chapman points out in The 5 Love Languages. You’ll be more like coworkers than spouses.
One of the best things you can do for your marriage is to cultivate mutual interests. Invest in a babysitter and plan bi-weekly or monthly times out where you can go to a fine restaurant or see a movie together.
Or do something that costs you nothing at all. Walk, bike, hike, or play board games.
The key is to make time to have fun together and keep learning about each other.