So, I Married An Introvert

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 doesnโ€™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 itโ€™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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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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.” ย 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 evenย wantย 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 ‘Whoย isย this person? Why are we married andย whyย doesn’t he understand me right now??” I can assure you, Josh has had similar thoughts about me. I know I’m notย thatย 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.ย 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.ย 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?ย 

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23 thoughts on “So, I Married An Introvert

  1. My husband is the extrovert who talks to a wall (he is in sales, so it’s PERFECT for him), and the wall starts talking back. I’m the one who inserts the long pauses in the conversation when I am thinking about what I want to say. I think when we were first married, our natural tendencies proved difficult for us. When we would get in an argument, he would say everything, and I would say nothing. He thought I was shut down and had nothing to say to him (believe me, I have plenty to say… it just takes me a while to get started). It wasn’t that I wasn’t talking to him; I was just thinking. Over time, he has learned that I usually need a little space to process and chew before I say anything. And I have learned that he needs to say certain things before I can have that alone time to think. Once we figured out our differences, we could each adapt (on good days!) to one anothers natural tendencies and be more productive and supportive of one another.

    • Reckless, I can relate to this! Josh and I experienced something very similar when we were first married – I always wanted to talk int out and he would be quiet. I am (still) learning the same thing – I need to give Josh space to think. I love that you are now [on good days, hehe] able to more productive and supportive of one another. I very much dislike the disagreements or misunderstandings, but the bond created by working through it is so worth it! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. This reminds me so much of my own marriage. My wife is the extrovert, and I’m the introvert. Sometimes when we’re in one of those fast-paced conversations with some other people, I rarely have a chance to jump in! I always get a kick out of, “Well Chris thinks this” or “Chris said that” when I’m right there!

    • Chris, it’s good you have a good sense of humor about Karen speaking for you. We once had a tax guy who spoke to Steve as if I wasn’t right beside him. Notice I said, “We once had a tax preparer.” ๐Ÿ™‚

      • She’s gotten better about it. Since I get the difference in us, I just laugh it off and give her heck later, in a loving way of course. I understand what you mean about the tax preparer. I’ll bet he didn’t even make eye contact with Steve.

      • Chris – thanks for sharing about your introvert/extrovert relationship. I absolutely love hearing other people’s Stories – even on this particular topic – because it helps me to realize Josh and I are not alone and that some of the things we experience just come with the territory of our personalities.

  3. Comparatively speaking, and in the context of just our relationship, I am the extrovert and Steve is the introvert. (In large social situations, we both are more introverted. We would rather die before going on a stage to sing karaoke or be recognized in front of a large group. For example, we were once at a wedding together where the bride and groom drew names from a bag when everyone banged their silverware on the table to make them kiss. The couple whose name was drawn was expected to kiss, too. Oh, my. I wanted to leave in a big way.)

    I like our introvert/extrovert relationship. When we have a disagreement (which is fortunately very rare), Steve doesn’t engage in petty bickering or fighting, so I say my piece, get it off my chest, and we move on. You can’t really fight with someone who doesn’t fights back ๐Ÿ™‚

    • lol. Jody – that is so true – you can’t fight with someone who doesn’t fight back. Sometimes I WANT that fight back, but I guess depending on the situation, it’s good that it just fizzles out. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      I like that you brought up how you may show up differently in large social situations than you do in the more intimate situations. This is something I would like to learn more about. I have a couple I am friends with who both are more introverted, but of the two, the husband is the extroverted one. I’d love to learn what makes this switch for the person (like you) who is introverted, yet the more extroverted one in the relationship. How big does the group need to be for you to switch back into your “introvert” mode?

  4. Loved this post! I’m in an introvert/introvert relationship myself but it was great to hear about the give-and-take from both types that characterizes a healthy relationship between them. Even better if we can all get more of this understanding going in platonic and workplace relationships.

    • Corey, I fully agree with you about getting this knowledge out to people in the work place. This is actually a growing dream of mine – to speak at various companies to educate them on the difference in personality types (including introvert/extroverts). I have an opportunity to start this with my current employer and I am pumped! ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s ironic that we spend so much time with our co-workers yet some know so little about the people we work with – and especially about the most effective ways to communicate.

  5. Pingback: Introverts Unite: The Report from the Introverted Blogosophere « Introvert's Revenge

  6. I’ an introvert and my girlfriend is an extrovert…We have been in this relationship for the last 3 years….She still tells me that my silence is damn irritating for her sometimes…(sometimes I extend my natural pause intentionally to irritate her :D)…but right now we both have developed a sense of understanding of each other’s nature…she has no problems with my introversion and I see no problems with her extroversion… ๐Ÿ™‚

    • haha. It’s funny that you purposefully bug her sometimes. Yes, it is so crazy how these differences can bring us closer to get if we understand each other (play off each other’s strengths and balance each other out) or can really put a wedge between us if we expect the other person to always change or cater to our personal needs with no compromise on our part. It’s very cool you are in a place where you accept each other as-is. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. I came across this blog post via a search of “I married an introvert”. I’m extremely extroverted and my wonderful husband is the definition of introvert. We are just now after 6.5 years of marriage discovering this. For quite some time he has been asking me to quiet down, to stop speaking for him (long pauses are just space for to start talking, right?) and to not ask him so many questions (he’s an Air Force helicopter pilot and his job fascinates me). The reason we started looking in to the intro/extro issue is that he is really having trouble spending time with the family. We have a 4 year old gifted daughter (major challenge!) and a rambunctious 21 month old boy. The frenetic activity level and volume of these two is all too much for hubs. I get annoyed because when it gets crazy in the house he Just. Walks. Away. I’m left flabbergasted and can’t understand what the big deal is- they’re just being kids! So here I am: up at 11:30 at night Googling “I married an introvert” looking for some sort of guide to help me navigate these stormy waters!

    • Becky, first of all I’d like to apologize for the tardiness of my response! The past few months have been a whirlwind and I had to abandon my blogging as a form of self preservation.

      I can relate to a few things you mentioned in your comment. My husband has gotten after me for being too loud or speaking too quickly. He also has gotten after me for asking too many probing questions. Now, the probing questions may be related to the fact that he is a male, but I do think it can also tie back to the introversion.

      Do you read books much? I am not a huge reader, but I DID find the book mentioned at the beginning of this blog post (Introvert Power) incredibly helpful to understanding my husband. I realized how certain actions I took could be overwhelming to my husband (an introvert). One of the first things I changed was slowing down my speech and question asking. Instead of bombarding him with the 10 questions in my head all at once, I allowed for space in between each of my questions. As a result, I think he felt like he was actually being heard and had a chance to think of his responses without feeling rushed.

      Now, if you read the book and begin to implement some of her suggestions, it may at first seem like YOU are the one putting in all the effort, but think of it as a ripple affect. Your change in behavior will naturally lead to a change in your husband as well. It really depends on the individual how quickly these changes will occur, but I can speak from personal experience of seeing changes in our relationship within ONE WEEK after I adjust certain things I am doing! ๐Ÿ™‚

      I think one thing that originally draws us to our spouses is that we intrinsically recognize they have something we do not – and when we join together, we become whole. I can attest to first appreciating things in my husband and overtime, those very things that drew me to him started to drive me crazy. I’m sure he’d say the same for me. ๐Ÿ™‚ But as I do the work to fully know and understand my husband, I find that I fall in love with him more every day. Because of him, I am learning how to slow my own pace and actually carve out time for me to rest and reflect.

      Thank you so much for your comment, Becky! If you have found other resources helpful since commenting on this post, I’d love to hear what those resources are! I am always open to learning new tricks. ๐Ÿ™‚

      In the meantime, if you would like to check out my current blog, I have moved over to alanamokma.com. It’s still me writing on my interests, just a new look and location. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Thank you so much for the book suggestion! I actually just read “The Introvert and Extrovert In Love” and it was a great help! I will grab “Introvert Power” as well. Thanks again- things are already getting easier in our house. Now if I could quiet down the two rowdy toddlers I think he’d be even happier at home ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Awesome! I’m so glad to hear things are getting easier! I will check out the book “The Introvert and Extrovert In Love”. That sounds right up my alley! ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. What I want to understand is why the extrovert is the one who has to mold to the introvert? All the things I find in searches on the Internet are ‘how to deal with your introvert’ or ‘giving your introvert space’. Well guess what I, as the extrovert, have needs too and feel I am constantly the one modifying my behavior to keep my marriage balanced. Granted I appreciate my husbands well thought out responses, but sometimes I need a regular old two way conversation to keep my sanity.

    • Stephanie, I can definitely feel your frustration. I have, at times, had very similar thoughts. It can be tiring to feel that you are the one putting in all the effort. After reading this book, I had a few conversations with my husband about the things I learned (about him, myself and our relationship). I think once I acknowledged some of his natural tendencies and said I could finally understand them, he was more open to receiving my tendencies. This is not to say we no longer bump heads – because we did that as early as this week ๐Ÿ™‚ – but once I acknowledged that he needed time alone to regroup, he acknowledged how I need time out in the world, with people, to feel balanced myself.

      If you find yourself in a place where you are curious, and want to engage further with your husband, I recommend checking out Laurie Helgoe’s book, “Introvert Power”. Although there were times throughout the book, I thought “Hey! What about ME??” It was a real eye opener and it gave me the insider’s perspective to what goes on inside my husband’s brain at times.

      I hear you. I feel your frustration. At times, I still feel exactly the same way. Positive change has come for me when I realize that my husband is exactly the way he was created. He has incredible gifts of insight, organization and strategy that I do not possess. When I recognize his differences as strengths, it creates in me a growing love for him.

      I have recently changed blog addresses. If you are interested in checking out the new site, it is alanamokma.com. Thank you again for your thoughts, Stephanie! ๐Ÿ™‚

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