My husband of (almost) forty years and I share a love for hospitality, reading and movies, of watching football, and serving God in his church. We are both thinkers more than feelers, strong personalities who enjoy Getting Things Done and closure. In other ways we are not so similar.
Jack loves details and data. I’m the big picture girl. Nowhere he’d rather relax than in the mountains—hunting fishing, hiking. Me, I love museums, conferences, the ballet. But the difference that makes the most difference: He is more the introvert while I am a tiny bit more extroverted. Here are some ways we’ve learned to give to each other across the great personality divide.
What an Introvert Can Give an Extrovert
People Time-Extroverts recharge by being with people. Meeting another family at the park. Gathering a few friends together at Starbucks. Planning a vacation or weekend away with friends. Having the children plan a special evening just for Mom or Dad. Love him by inviting others over for a game of Risk or guitars by the fire pit. Give her a spa gift for a pedicure or facial with a friend.
Make it festive-Add to the fun by making people time a surprise or, if you really want to go all out, even spontaneous.
More Words-You introverts who live inside your heads…tell your love what you are thinking. It’s usually so deep and reflective and very much worth hearing. Write a long (more than 2 sentences) love note telling her what you really love about her heart. If it’s good enough you don’t even have to buy chocolate or flowers. Or even a card.
A Listening Ear-We extroverts discover what we really think about things by processing out loud. We have more words in an hour than you might have in a day. We delight in providing the color commentary when all you may want is the play by play. Preferably the bottom line of the play by play.
On Valentines ask your love a question about what he thinks or feels about something…and let him run…without looking at your watch or breaking eye contact. Tune your dial to his emotional setting…if he is joyful share his energy. If he is sad share his sorrow, in the way you look at him, touch him…in the tone of your voice.
Another Night Out-Ease on out of your man cave or comfy couch. You may have reached your quota of “out” with one or two outings a week. Not the case with your extroverted love. She likes to go and do. With you. With friends. Well, maybe not with friends on Valentine’s. But she might really enjoy the promise of some extra nights out in the coming weeks.
What an Extrovert can Give an Introvert
A Listening Ear-We extroverts can be so into talking. Ask thoughtful questions and then listen. Reciprocate all those times when your love listens to all your color commentary. Don’t interrupt with all the witty things you can think to say. Ask more questions. Listen some more.
More Nights In-Lay down your desire to go and do. Sit with your love by the fire. Read together. Or watch TV together. Or ask him to play his music. Really listen. Do some of the slow and quiet things he likes to do. Maybe even give him your blessing to get lost surfing the web for a while. Or work on his hobby.
Time alone (or almost)-Introverts recharge by being alone. If your introvert loves to recharge in the quiet of the outdoors you may want to lay down your vacations to the city and the museums and the conferences. Instead, offer lots of vacation time in the mountains, lakes or forests. Or the beach. You can browse the local shops. Find a coffee shop where you can read or meet new friends while he blazes new trails or fishes for a few hours.
Since extroverts and introverts recharge in such different ways it’s ok to take separate vacations. Or encourage him to take off on the great American road trip alone while you fly to meet him somewhere. Or it could be as simple as taking the kids out for an evening and leaving him alone in a quiet home for an evening.
Welcome Home Space– His job requires him to interface with people all day. You can’t wait to talk to him or have him take a turn engaging the children. Give him a quick greeting and then a block of time to unwind. Take a quick run or putter in the yard or workshop. Watch the news or surf around on the web. With a replenished emotional tank he will have more to give you and the children.
As I reflect on our introvert/extrovert marriage (why *do* so many of us wind up together??) I’m impressed with how loving one another across this personality divide requires sacrifice. How many times did you read the words “lay down this” or “give her that”? Concrete examples of what it means to “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:21)
We extroverts lay down our agenda in order to love our introverted spouses. Our introverted spouses lay down their desires in order to love us. And we are reminded that we are so different from our spouses…they can never meet all our needs. Which drives us closer to Christ. We both lean into Jesus to find the energy and desire to love someone wired so differently, and love them well. But the result is just what you would expect from a good and beautiful God who designed us that way and drew us together: our intimacy with our love and with Jesus grows ever strong.
Wishing you a Happy Valentine’s Day.
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