Mark: I’m an extrovert. I’m refueled by being with people
Jill: I’m an introvert. I’m refueled by being alone.
Mark: This has caused more than a few challenges in our nearly 35 years of marriage.
Jill: Initially, we were drawn to our differences. I loved how Mark was the life of the party. He loved that I wanted to be with him and him only.
Mark: Over time, though, those differences cause challenges. I’m all for weekends filled with social activities while Jill longs for quiet weekends at home.
Jill: There was also the season of criticism. I was quick to tell him that his friendships were wide but not deep. He was quick to tell me that having just 2-3 close friends was wrong—I needed to widen my friendship circle.
Mark: In time, however, we’ve come to better understand how to navigate our different temperaments. If you’re married to someone opposite of you when it comes to emotionally refueling, here are some helpful tips:
- Differences aren’t wrong. They are just different. It takes all kinds of people to make the world go around.
- Resist the urge to try to change your spouse. You may think you’re doing him or her a favor, but you’re really not accepting him or her. This starts the slow fade of not accepting we wrote about in our No More Perfect Marriages book and our 10 Day No More Perfect Marriages Blog Series.
- Meet in the middle when you can. We often do less social activities than I would prefer and more social activities than Jill likes. When we meet in the middle, Jill slows me down which is actually good for me. And I draw Jill out of her quiet, which she admits is often good for her.
- Don’t take your spouse’s preference personally. When Jill longed to be alone, I used to assign the wrong meaning to her request. I saw it as rejection. In reality, it had absolutely nothing to do with me.
- Resist the urge to do a lot of activities apart. It’s okay to do that occasionally, but doing so on a regular basis can result in a “creeping separateness” that will distance your hearts from each other. An introvert can serve an extrovert spouse by accompanying him or her to an activity even when you’d prefer to be home reading a book. An extrovert can serve an introvert spouse by being willing to leave the event a little earlier than he or she would if they were attending it alone.
Jill: Marriage is all about finding a balance between asking for what we need and desire and honoring our spouse’s needs and desires. It’s a constant rhythm of give and take. This is particularly helpful when dealing with different personality traits and temperaments.
What about you? Are you married to someone opposite of you? Would you add any other tips for navigating those differences?
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