As an extrovert, I love being around people, and as a stay at home mom, I need to socialize on a regular basis. The company of friends and a good conversation refreshes my soul. My husband, on the other hand, is a solid introvert and nothing drains him faster than having to “do people” in the evenings, especially after a long day of management at his job. As much as we adore one another, we’ve spent a lot of time in our relationship not understanding each other’s personalities. We had fights about potlucks, evening obligations, and where to sit at our kids’ school assemblies.
But after 10+ years of conversations (and arguments), here are four things that help make the extroverted/introverted dynamic work in our marriage.
Socialize during the day
Being a SAHM is a lonely gig. I love my kids but they don’t make for very stimulating conversation. My husband can always tell if I’ve been alone all day with the kids if I talk his ear off the minute he walks in the door. He actively asks me what my plans are for the week, knowing that I need “friend time” to stay happy (not to mention sane!). After all, when I am a happier mom, I’m a happier wife. Making plans to spend time with friends during the day means that I get my extroverted cup filled so that I’m not a grumpy, drained, or clingy person at the end of the day when my husband comes home from work.
Protect our evening hours
My husband works with people all day long and when he comes home, he’s usually “peopled out.” For that reason, we choose our evening obligations carefully. Our family—and marriage—does better when we don’t go out every night of the week.
Accept that my husband is not like me
Sometimes, my husband will back out of evening obligations at the last minute because he desperately needs time to recharge at home. This used to bug me a lot. But I’m learning to accept that my husband is not like me (surprise, right?!) and while I need to spend time with friends to feel sane and happy, he does not. Plus it really is okay for me to go to social engagements by myself when he really needs a break.
Tell the truth
I used to be embarrassed and make excuses for my husband when he wouldn’t come with me to parties or our weekly Bible study, like his need for alone time and rest was some dirty secret. Now, I just tell our friends plainly: “He needed a break tonight.” I’ve also gotten better about communicating when I am OK (or not okay) with him skipping out on social events. For a long time, when he opened a conversation about staying home, I told him it was “fine” but would resent his decision and pick a fight when I got home. I’m doing better these days about telling him when I’m not fine with him staying home. In those instances, he almost always chooses to come with me.
My husband and I are really different people, as opposite as an extrovert and introvert can get. So he doesn’t like small talk and evening get-togethers! I’m learning to be OK with that. We love each other and we’re making our marriage work by supporting each other’s unique needs and communicating our desires in an honest, productive way that works for both of us.