Understanding basic foundational and inherent principles of who your spouse is often provides new perspective for relationship. It is often harder to be critical of someone when they are simply being true to themselves. For example, Chapman’s The 5 Love Languages gives people the tools to understand how their spouse most feels appreciated and loved (or how they feel most criticized and hurt). Understanding is power, and can help to improve things as you can better put yourself in their shoes.
Introversion and extroversion is often misunderstood as well. And if you are married to the opposite, it can be difficult as your idea of a fun time with your spouse may be completely different and cause strife. If you’re an intovert, a nice evening may be staying in, reading a book on a couch. An extrovert wants to go out with friends and stay out late. How do you work with such a chasm of difference?
Well first, what is introversion or extroversion? It’s really a nice way of packaging up the complex way people draw their energy. Extroverts draw their energy from social environments, and are usually outgoing, talkative, and feel energized in social situations. Introverts, by contrast, draw their energy from having personal time and feel energy-drained in more social situations. It is considered a continuum, so you can be very extroverted, very introverted, or somewhere in the middle. The Myers-Briggs, and other personality tests, allow you to determine where you fall on the spectrum. You can Google “free Myers-Briggs test” if interested. Here’s one I found.
My wife, Holly, finds herself pretty far on the extroverted side. When I take this test, I almost always score 5-4 in favor of introversion, fairly moderate but we still have our issues. In your professional life, your aptitude and work success are somewhat dictated by this, but depending on your title, you may find yourself either energized or drained after dealing with work stuff all day. You should recognize this about your spouse and their personality. For example, your spouse is an introvert, and worked her way up to manager of staff and required to be in meetings and put on a good social face all day. When they get home, they may be very drained and need time alone to regain their energy and mood. If you’re an extrovert in the same position, you may be in a great mood after the same situation, and come home energized. Alternatively, if your spouse is an extrovert, and has a job where they have to deal with stuff by themselves all day, they will want to talk and socialize and chit-chat when you get home to regain their energy.
This is often very confusing to people, especially if you combine both situations (an introvert dealing with a lot of social situations, combined with an extrovert that deals in a solitary work environment). One wants to withdraw into a quiet space and work on individual projects (writing, art, working on small machines, reading, video games) and the other wants to be together and share discussions and social time. This can be very difficult as usually both sides aren’t getting their introversion/extroversion needs met and chasm starts to be created.
Here are some things to help you understand your relationship better. You likely know what category you and your spouse fall into, but let’s start from the beginning to define where you are on the introversion/extroversion spectrum
- Have you and your spouse both take the Myers-Briggs test (noted above)
- Based on that, have a basic discussion about what situations you both crave-dispise, what you hope/expect your wife will do to help you in those situations. You need to talk about this and put it out in the open, instead of both harboring hidden expectations or resentment (isn’t most of marital strife about poor communication?). For example, you (introvert) absolutely HATE work parties (but are ok with say, mingling in a friend party or house), but is important to you or her career. Your wife (extrovert) loves social interactions. You may make the compromise that you you stay at the work party for a short while going somewhere after to get her needs met. It’s a compromise, but at least you both aren’t miserable.
- Work together to develop new interests or friendships. Often, introverts make smaller, select group of friends who they remain friends with for life. What usually happens is extrovert has social group, drags introvert along. Introvert feels ill at ease, or left out, and withdraws, not having fun. If you are able to start something together, and start from scratch (book club, dancing, MMA, running club, small engine repair, whatever) the introvert usually will find a few people who he can connect with organically on his own, while the extrovert can chat up anyone they desire.
- Occasionally compromise 100%. If you want to stay in and she wants to go out, agree this weekend you’ll go out into a social environment, and next weekend, you’ll stay in with quiet time. Even though it is tough for one person (at a time), it can usually be good. You can learn something (from other people, or from a book), you’re spouse may feel energized and therefore you connect as they’ll be happy and energized. Sometimes, you can split up and both get 100% what you want, though without spouse. So if your spouse is out drinking and having fun, just make sure you connect when you get back togeter when both your energies are high. This reinforces the relationship bond, versus both being 100% out for themselves when you get back together.
I think if you haven’t explored this, it is time to do so. Often, kids influence this and if you don’t have family in the area, you can find yourself on exile-island despite your personality. This may be a big result of the “I’m Boooored” comments, and lead one party to feel completely unfulfilled (while the other may be perfectly happy – I’d hypothesize this frequently occurs and the extrovert isn’t getting their dopamine fix, and eventually leads to the I Love You But am Not In Love With You speech – since one party isn’t getting their needs met or the spouse isn’t willing to compromise to make sure that excitement and energy for the other is happening).
Also, even though this is a relationship post, your kids have their own love languages too, and are also introverted or extroverted. This has issues of its own, especially if you’re the opposite of your child. Again, making you aware of these issues does provide you knowledge, and knowledge is power to make improvements and do what you can to support the needs for everyone in the family. Will everyone be 100% happy 100% of the time? No, but if everyone is getting their needs met some or most of the time through compromising, that’s brings up the overall group.