When an introvert marries an extrovert

This opening line grabbed me, “Sometimes I think that introverts and extroverts are from different planets, and I am not alone in picturing it that way.”

The differences between introverts and extroverts are profound. Most of us readily accept and agree with that. But what if an introvert marries an extrovert? What if the team you work on is led by an introvert, but you are an extrovert? What if you have twins and one is an introvert and one extrovert?

How can introverts and extroverts get along, co-exist and understand or appreciate each other?

Michael Hyatt serves us well by providing excellent content related to work, leadership and relationships. Recently I came upon his blog, How Introverts and Extroverts Can Get Along.

He launches this piece with an insightful statement:

“Quiet Revolution co-founder Susan Cain calls the distance from introversion to extroversion the ‘single most important aspect of personality.’ One leading scientist calls it the ‘north and south of temperament.’”

In her book, Quiet, Cain explains that the introvert-extrovert dynamic “influences our choice of friends and mates, and how we make conversation, resolve differences, and show love. It affects the careers we choose and whether or not we succeed at them.”

With north and south temperaments, do you see possibilities for conflicts or misunderstandings especially if you’re a south married to a north?

Michael Hyatt understands:

“I am speaking from personal experience here. I have been married to my wife Gail for almost 40 years. She is an extrovert. I am an introvert. In the early years of our marriage, this was a source of constant friction.

Frankly, it’s a miracle we got through it alive and with our marriage still intact.”

He says that introverts and extroverts run on different batteries.

“The real difference between introverts and extroverts is in what energizes us. Ask yourself, ‘Where do I get my energy: by being alone or by being with others?’ Conversely, you could ask, ‘What drains me?’

Introverts like me are energized by being alone. People drain us. Extroverts like Gail are energized by others. Being alone drains them. There are exceptions. I also enjoy being with people sometimes and she enjoys some time alone. But this is not our dominant mode of renewal.

To explain the difference in how introverts and extroverts interact with the world, I’ll show you how Gail and I see things differently in 3 broad social areas of life.

1. Circle of Friends

  • I am content to spend time with a small, tight-knit circle of friends. I am not really interested in meeting anyone else. I have enough friends, thank you very much.
  • Gail, on the other hand, views strangers as “friends-she-hasn’t-yet-met.” She loves meeting new people. The more the merrier.

2. Rest and Relaxation

  • My idea of of a great vacation is being somewhere alone—just the two of us. I want to spend the time reading or taking quiet walks.
  • Gail wants to meet the locals and go on sight-seeing adventures. The more activities, the better.

3. Regular Social Functions

  • I want to leave immediately after church. Being with all those people is exhausting!
  • Gail can’t wait to get to coffee hour. And she takes the hour part seriously. If she is not the last one to leave, she feels cheated.”

Does your marriage look similar?

We all need to remind ourselves neither perspective is right or wrong. We need both kinds of people, and they are of equal value. We know our differences can create conflict and misunderstandings.

I am an extrovert, but my former husband Rick was an introvert. Early on, it was the source of conflict, not appreciation. It took time for us to understand and appreciate our differences. We definitely learned we needed each other, and we could draw great strength from one another. We certainly needed to give the other the freedom to live the way he or she was wired. Truthfully, we were better together because of these differences. We grew to be two unique halves of a greater whole, and it was a beautiful thing.

If you are married to a north, and you are a south, be grateful for unique way you complement each other because you really are better together.

Published October 30, 2017