Is your spouse an introvert? Are you an introvert?
Or, maybe you don’t know what an introvert is. Imagine a really socially awkward person that’s shy and doesn’t like talking to other people. Okay, now completely erase that picture from your mind because that is absolutely NOT what an introvert is.
An introvert is someone whose social energy tank gets refilled by being alone. That’s it. I’m an introvert and whenever I’m around other people, I expend some of this social energy. As opposed to some of my extroverted friends who are pumped up by being around others.
Whenever I’m in a situation where I have to “be on,” I burn up even more of this energy. And if my tank ever runs empty, woe to those around me because I turn into a zombie, withdrawing emotionally and physically.
If you’re married to an introvert, you probably know what I’m talking about. But there are ways to better love your introverted spouse. Things that will make your life – and their life – so much better:
When my social energy tank is on empty, it's almost unbearable to engage in small talk with a stranger. Even when my energy tank is full, I still really don’t like small talk. It drains me.
One of the best things you can do for your introverted spouse is to rescue them from small talk. If you do this for us, we'll be forever grateful.
Sometimes we introverts feel drained and just need time to ourselves. It isn’t that we don’t like being with you, with our friends, or with our family, it’s just that we need to get re-energized in order to be fully present around you.
This lesson can be tough, but it's also one of the most important. Give us the freedom to take time to ourselves without judgment or resentment.
Introverts need human connection just like everyone else. However, our social energy tanks need to be full going into social events. Otherwise, you can expect us to be hiding in dark corners, or robotically responding to everyone around us. Even when our tanks are full going in, we can still feel drained quickly.
The more that you can take the lead role at social events, the longer we can last, and the more we appreciate and respect how you can handle the situation. Oh, and major bonus points if you check in with us during the event and, if we are feeling run down, be the one to make excuses for leaving.
Take a look at your spouse’s weekly schedule. Do they have alone time built in or are they constantly surrounded by people all day, every day?
Ask your spouse and, if needed, set up a night or morning into your weekly schedule where they can be alone for a few hours.
Taking alone time sometimes means more stress on those around us. If your introverted spouse is a people-pleaser to the core (like me), they may not want to ask for alone time because they know it will inconvenience others.
You can help by reminding us that it’s okay to do things for ourselves, especially when it results in our being happier and more energized.
While we introverts may hate small talk, we also love talking deeply with others. To us, it's the essence of life, and it can serve to re-energize us.
It doesn’t have to be something emotionally draining like your worst childhood memories. It can just be something you're passionate about.
Going on vacations can be difficult for introverts if we can’t find time to ourselves. Help us find that time. In the end, it'll be better for everyone.
Read a book about an introvert’s strengths and weaknesses. It can be incredibly helpful for understanding how to help and also how to interact with us.
I didn’t know I was an introvert for 20-something years. When I used to get drained, I'd chalk it up to some character flaw and criticize myself for it. Once I learned that I just needed some time to myself, characteristics I perceived as flaws or failures were resolved with this self-knowledge.
But even now, I need the occasional reminder to re-fuel my own tank.
It takes a village!
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