The very things that exhaust me as an introvert are the very things that energize my husband as an extrovert.
The old saying, “opposites attract,” cannot be any more true than when applied to my husband and me. If you were to Google what’s the opposite of me, you would find my husband’s face with the biggest smile on it that you could ever imagine.
He’s an extrovert, and I’m an introvert. He likes to be around people, while I prefer solitude. I see small details, while he takes in the big picture. He revels in the spotlight, while I like to go unseen. He’s spontaneous, while I like to plan things in advance. He takes everything with a grain of salt, while I dive deep. He likes adventure, and, well, I’d rather go to the bookstore.
You get the point. We’re different. It was our differences that attracted us to one another in the first place. I admired his confidence and ability to sway the room, while he admired my attention to detail and ability to read people well.
But despite our attraction, being in a relationship with your opposite can be a battle. Trying to find a center field to balance our different personalities was (and sometimes still is) a challenge.
When we first began dating, I tried being more like him, because I spent so much of my early 20s believing that something was wrong with me for being an introvert. When you’re called boring, not fun, and stiff for so long by your peers, you begin to think that in order to keep a husband around, you have to give in to his extroverted ways. But in my attempt to match his high, I was left drained and frustrated.
‘Can You Slow Down?’
I remember once asking him, “When do you slow down? What does turning down look like for you?”
His response: “I don’t really slow down.”
Hearing this made me cringe.
As an introvert, it is absolutely a requirement for me to unplug from the world and slow down to restore my energy. There are times when I don’t want to do anything or go anywhere for a while, until I feel recharged, but that’s not who my husband is. Getting a car wash, running errands, or inviting his friends over to our house is his idea of relaxation.
Our personality differences often got in the way of our relationship, because the very things that drain me are the things that excite him. There were moments when he felt like I was holding him back in life because I needed to move at a slower pace, and there were moments when I felt like he was moving too fast and being reckless.
I couldn’t keep up with his energetic and outgoing personality, so eventually, I stopped trying.
The Turning Point Came When I Embraced My Introversion
Obviously, trying to be on the same wavelength as my husband wasn’t working for us. In fact, it was causing unnecessary conflict and strife in our otherwise happy marriage. I would become angry and resentful that he was naturally a “people person,” and I hated how he placed me in a position where I had to pretend to be a people person, too. Whether it was making friends with a random stranger we met in a restaurant or inviting a ton of people to our home when I had hoped to spend a relaxing evening with just him, I felt forced to push myself above my social limits — and not in a good way.
I was constantly drained and frustrated, and it began to show in my interactions with others. When his friends came over, I would be standoffish, silent, and short, intentionally hoping they would get the hint and leave. Of course, they never did, and it just made them wonder what was wrong with me. Why was I acting so rude?
However, the moment I embraced my introversion, I found that others could also accept who I am — but only if I owned it proudly.
Eventually, I learned to kindly say, “It’s great seeing you guys, but I’m going to retreat upstairs,” or “I’m going to sit this one out, but see you guys another day.” They would nod, give me a hug, and continue on with their conversations unbothered. The ease in simply stating that I needed to rest helped my husband and his friends understand what I needed in order to be a pleasure around them. No longer was I the rude, cold, standoffish wife who was ruining their fun.
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We’re Learning to Give Each Other Space
Because it is my husband’s nature to quickly move from one activity to the next — without downtime in between — I worried he would grow bored of my overly relaxed, calculated, and introverted ways. I worried he would grow tired of feeling as though he couldn’t be himself — an extrovert — around me.
When I finally embraced my introversion, I knew I had to allow space for my husband to continue to be himself. At first, it was hard to watch my husband having the time of his life with his friends. He would be having such a great time — without my participation — that he would forget to check in with me.
Typically, whenever I hit the point of needing to recharge my energy, that’s exactly when he wants to keep going. Previously, before I learned to embrace my introversion, I would attempt to hang out for far longer than what felt comfortable for me. Then I grew annoyed when he wouldn’t head out. But we had to learn to give each other space to be the people we naturally are — he, an extrovert, and I, an introvert.
Now I understand that, because he’s a social butterfly, he will want to mix and mingle. I will stand by him and allow him to socialize, but once my social battery runs out, I need to take a seat and recharge. For me, this is when the fun begins. I will observe from my seat as my husband works the room, holding court, taking center stage, and making others laugh. I’ve grown to love when people come up to me to compliment me on how amazing he is. And in return, they tell me how he spoke highly of me. Sometimes I even see him turn and point to me where I’m seated.
At first, I feared people would view my absence as a sign of division within our marriage. But for us, we are giving each other space to be ourselves. Instead of a sign of division, I hope others see it as a sign of strength. Because respecting each other’s differences — without demanding that the other person become more like us — makes any relationship strong.
We Fell in Love Because of Our Introvert-Extrovert Differences
We had to embrace the fact that it wasn’t our similarities that brought us together. Like many introvert-extrovert couples, it was our differences.
I admire that my husband is fearless. When he wants something, he goes right after it. He doesn’t need to wait on anyone to move forward. He just does it. I love that he sees the big picture, and he doesn’t get too hung up on the obstacles in his way.
I love that his spontaneous nature gets me out of my introvert comfort zone and pushes me to meet new people and try new things. He teaches me new things constantly. Being an introvert, it’s easy for me to get stuck in my routine. He helps me escape the lonesome dark hole I sometimes put myself in.
As for him, he needs me to slow him down. He needs me to see the obstacles that may be coming, so we can get ahead of them. He needs me to think about things from a different perspective.
We now have a saying that we use. I say to him, “You keep me floating,” and he says, “You keep me grounded.” Although we’re different, we allow one another to continue being who we are in order to balance each other out. And we both flourish when we do.
If you’re an introvert married to an extrovert, how do you handle your differences? Let me know in the comments below.