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Introverts and extroverts -
a balancing act

 

Jason Smith

Columnist

  Sometimes, figuring my wife out takes a lot longer than it should.

  Over the last eight years that we’ve been married, we’ve had our share of disagreements. Every couple does, I suppose, but some of those struggles probably could have been avoided if I’d just put myself in her shoes.

  A prime example of this is in how each of us approaches interaction with other people.

  I’m an extrovert. I love being around people, getting to know them and discovering similar interests. Even when no such common ground exists, I would much rather be around people than be by myself. My wife has always told me that I love being the center of attention. I tell her I don’t have to be the center of it, but that I just like to be where the attention is being given.

  She is the exact opposite, an introvert. Whereas I get my batteries recharged, so to speak, by being around people and making new friends, she prefers to sit on the sofa or on the bed, quietly reading by herself.

  In the earliest years of our marriage, this drove me nuts. Whenever I wanted to go out and be with friends, she wanted to stay home, and vice versa. She’d tell me it wasn’t that she didn’t like those friends; she just didn’t have the same constant need to be around people that I did.

  Invariably, I took it the wrong way and spent the day moping that she never wanted to do anything or that she was mad at me. She’d always assure me, however, that nothing was wrong. She just enjoyed the quiet.

  As time has gone on, my wife and I have been learning more about how to see from each other’s point of view. She works long hours and deals with a lot of people in the course of her job – something that’s not an easy task for an introvert who just wants time alone. Over the last year, I’ve spent most of my days alone with our three-year-old daughter – which is great for a dad, but not so great for an extrovert craving adult conversation.

  We’re still learning how to find a balance between those two extremes. But the good news is, we’re making progress.

  I mentioned to her recently that we had been invited to a friend’s house for an evening of karaoke. My wife is acutely aware of my obsession with singing in public, but I realized she might not be up for spending the evening with strangers singing with microphones in my friend’s living room.

  When I asked her, rather sheepishly, if she wanted to, I was a bit shocked when she said “yes.” When we went to my friend’s house over the weekend, I sang a few songs and so did she – sounding much better than I ever could. I had gotten the “recharge” that I needed, so I was happy, and she seemed to enjoy herself as well.

  The next day, it was her turn. We spent the day at home alone with our little girl, with no plans to go anywhere or do anything. My wife needed it after an evening of being around people she didn’t know, and I was finally starting to understand that.

  I’ve seen a lot of examples, over the years, of the struggles between extroverts and introverts. Until I was actually married to an introvert, I don’t think I truly realized how important it is to balance the two.

  Yes, I love being around people, but I’m learning that being alone isn’t so bad, either. My wife gets her “recharge” from being by herself, but she knows that people aren’t the enemy.

  The way I figure it, as long as she and I are communicating with each other and seeking that balance, it won’t matter how many people are there, or whether anyone else is there at all.

 

 

  Jason has worked in newspapers since 2005, spending the majority of that time in Henry County. He lives in Covington with his wife and daughter.

 

 

 

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