Help, I Married an Introvert!
‘I thought marriage was supposed to make you a better person. I just feel like I’ve become more lazy and exhausted over the last four years.’
This wasn’t the first time that Carl told me, frustrated, that he felt inexplicably tired and unmotivated. Prone to exaggeration myself, I usually figured that he was doing the same. It couldn’t really be that bad.
Plus, it didn’t seem unreasonable that he should be tired. We have two small kids. Renovating our house has required a lot of work. We’ve had a lot going on over the last four years.
I went to bed after that conversation feeling a bit down myself. Maybe it really was that bad, and I should be taking him more seriously.
As I lay in bed, I ruminated for a while on my earlier conversation with Carl. I then made a connection that I hadn’t considered before: perhaps the root of Carl’s tiredness was his introversion.
I’m extroverted. I know this because when I talk to people too close to bedtime, I can’t fall asleep because I’m wired. I get so much energy from being around people it’s ridiculous. I’m not too tired in the evenings because Carl is home and I’m excited about it.
Carl, on the other hand, gets his energy from solitude. It’s not that he doesn’t like people, but he definitely doesn’t get a ‘buzz’ like I do after spending time with friends and family. Even though he enjoys time at work, at church, and with family, he tends to come away drained. Opportunities for solitude (and hence to recharge), however, have been dwindling since we got married as our time has become fuller and our family grown larger.
While it’s hard for me to understand completely what it’s like to be introverted, I can appreciate that we are different people, and I can’t overlook this aspect of Carl’s personality. In some ways, I suspect it’s a ‘failure to thrive’ situation. If he can’t find the time and space to really recharge, then he (and our marriage) won’t flourish.
Living Day-to-Day with my Introvert
For a while now, Carl’s lethargy and tiredness have been a frustrating quandary. Making the connection with his introversion, though, offers us some real options to improve Carl’s well-being as well as our marriage.
- We’ll be on alert for Carl being ‘peopled out’. Days where he goes into the office, or when we have guests to our house, are more likely to tire him out.
- We’ll try other solutions to his exhaustion than going to bed early. Not that going to bed early isn’t wonderful, but getting more sleep may not be the solution to his tiredness. Instead, he may need quality ‘alone time’ to really recharge after a people-full day, which could include taking a walk or reading a book for a little while.
- He’ll have permission (and encouragement) to take the time he needs to recharge. Carl, previously, has felt guilty about leaving me alone in the evening when he’s been at work all day. As much as I appreciate his company, I want him to take care of himself, even if it means that I spend some time to myself, too.
- He’ll still need to power through some things. While I’m sure he would love to crash right when he gets home from work, I still need his help feeding dinner to the boys and getting them into bed in the evenings. Likewise, we will still need to have people over to our house on a regular basis. Self-care is really important, but we make space for it within our responsibilities, not instead of them.
- I’ll learn more about introversion so that I can support Carl better. I’m looking forward to reading up on introversion. Since I can’t directly relate, I’m hoping that other people can give me insight into how to respect Carl in this aspect of his personality.
I’m looking forward to supporting Carl as he figures out different ways to rest and recharge, and I’m so excited to see how this will increase his energy.
Is your marriage or relationship a case of ‘opposites attract’ too? How do you make space for each other’s differences?