Two weeks ago I shared what I’ve recently learned about Introverts from Laurie Helgoe’s book, Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength.
[If you missed that post, it’s a good read. You can check it out here.]
I highlighted items that I could think back to specific experiences I have had with introverts. This one stood out to me the most:
An introvert needs time to think. If you ask him a question and he doesn’t respond immediately, it is not because he does not have an opinion. He is forming the thought in his head before he speaks. Allow time for this silence. Even if it’s uncomfortable for you extroverts. If you try to fill that break in conversation, you may miss out on a highly perceptive opinion.
Today, I share about the marital bliss of the introvert/extrovert relationship. 😉
I am an extrovert. My husband, Josh, is an introvert. I remember during one of our very first conversations together, he told me, “When I die, I want to help God paint sunsets.” WHAT? I had never thought of that before – or really, anything quite like it. I was intrigued by this off-the-wall comment and seven years later, it still sticks in my brain.
Josh is someone who thinks things through. He is “that guy” who can come up with an entire strategic plan in a matter of minutes. His brain just works that way. Me? Wow, it could probably take me a whole month – with much whining in between – to just first figure out what I even want to do, and then I’d put together some hodge-podge list of seemingly related items.
I believe one of the reasons Josh has the ability to form elaborate plans and break them down into sizable chunks is because his mind is constantly working – moving – creating – constructing and de-constructing puzzles.
I love this about him.
Sometimes though, when we are in our high-gear introvert and extrovert modes, it causes a major breakdown. Like ‘Who is this person? Why are we married and why doesn’t he understand me right now??” I can assure you, Josh has had similar thoughts about me. I know I’m not that perfect.
I remember back to a time last fall when Josh and I wanted to get our finances in order. We made an appointment with a financial advisor to discuss investing opportunities. Immediately, the advisor jumped into a high-speed conversation. Like an automatic shotgun, he bombarded us with questions. Here is when our introvert and extrovert tendencies emerged in high-gear.
Josh (introvert) was tongue-tied because the advisor was listing off question after question and leaving very little room for answers. And these were big ‘what if’ questions, not just questions like “What is your name? What is your occupation?”
After a few minutes of this, I (extrovert) decided to jump in. I started answering the questions for Josh and could almost keep up with this high-speed conversation maniac. The quick banter between the advisor and me reminded me of conversations between Lorelai and her daughter Rory on Gilmore Girls.
Looking back, this was a huge mistake. 1). Josh is completely capable of speaking for himself. He doesn’t need me to speak for him. 2). My act of jumping in to keep the conversation flowing virtually eliminated Josh’s opportunity to provide feedback in the conversation. And really, it was his perspective that we needed. The strategic thinker who doesn’t just make big decisions on a whim (like me).
But, I didn’t know or understand then, what I know now, after reading Laurie’s book, Introvert Power. I didn’t know then, that an introvert needs that time to process. Silence does not mean he does not have an opinion. He is forming the complete thoughts before he speaks.
Since reading this book, I have noticed times where the questions I want to ask Josh during a conversation form much faster than even the rate the conversation can handle. I’ve learned to hold back and to ask one question at a time and actually wait for his full response before asking my next question.
Each day, I am realizing more and more the beauty that surrounds the introvert/extrovert relationship. We fit. We balance each other out. He needs my strengths just as much as I need his. And I love this about “us”.
Question: Are you in an extrovert/introvert relationship? (This can be true, even for friendships). How do you see your very different natural tendencies play out in your relationship?