By Katie T. Kennedy, Crosswalk.com
We are created in God's image, unique and different. In marriage, differences can cause challenges. Our spouses don't think like we do and don't always make the decisions we would make. While this can be frustrating, it is also a strength. When you take two different individuals and merge their strengths, they can become quite a force.
A lot has been discovered in the last decade about introverts and extroverts. Both introverts and extroverts have their own set of traits. Neither one is better nor worse, just different. Learning to appreciate them both is a worthwhile goal. I know a lot of marriages that contain both an introvert and an extrovert, including my own. I am an introvert, and my husband is an extrovert.
Learning to appreciate your spouse's differences is part of the marriage journey. This article will look at how to love your extroverted spouse.
What Is an Extrovert?
Merriam Webster's dictionary states an extrovert is a "typically gregarious and unreserved person who enjoys and seeks out social interaction." Extroverts are outgoing and thrive in social situations.
In Susan Cain's book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, she states about one-half to two-thirds of people are extroverts. We live in an extroverted world. This book is insightful for both personality styles to read to understand their spouse better. She covers both personalities styles but focuses on introverts. Cain states, "The archetypal extrovert prefers action to contemplation, risk-taking to heed-taking, certainty to doubt. He favors quick decisions, even at the risk of being wrong. She works well in teams and socializes in groups…Extroverts seem to get an extra buzz from the pursuit and attainment of their goals." This can motivate them to work hard, play hard, and take chances. Extroverts typically can handle more outside stimulation, make quick decisions, and are more open to taking risks.
Extroverts get energized by social interaction, whereas introverts usually get depleted. Prime example, if my husband Jonathan and I go out to a gathering, when we come home, he will watch television to decompress. Jonathan gets invigorated by conversations and meeting new people. He needs time to come down. I, on the other hand, head straight to bed. I appreciate the social time, but it's time to recharge. Introverts can enjoy social gatherings as much as extroverts, but they recharge alone.
Compromise Is the Name of the Game
Marriage is all about compromise and give and take. When it comes to scheduling your free time, this also becomes a comprise. Your extroverted spouse might want to go out every night of the week or weekend; the more social time, the better. That is not going to work for an introvert; they need downtime. To support my extroverted husband, I have learned to accept and embrace the social events he plans for us. Communication is key. I always appreciate knowing I have events coming up so I can recharge before the event. It is also important for the introvert in the relationship to speak up about their limits.
I respect my husband's need to be around others. He could probably stay till the bitter end at an event, engaged in deep conversation. I, on the other hand, like to retire early. I try to respect him and stay as long as I can, and he respects me when I tell him I need to go. I try to push past my limits if possible so he can maximize his social time.
Have conversations about how you would like to spend your spare time and try to meet each other's needs. Learn your limits and your spouse's desires, then practice putting their needs first. Isn't marriage an opportunity to serve each other? This is a way we can show God's love. It doesn't mean we only do what they want; it means acknowledging you are aware of your spouse's desires and are willing to help meet their needs.
The closer we become to God and learn about Him through prayer and the Bible, the more He will open our hearts to our spouse. The Lord alone can change hearts.
Proverbs 8:17 says, "I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me."
Take your frustrations and concerns to the Lord and let Him sort them out. Many times, something has been on my heart, and I will take it to the Lord in prayer. Imagine my surprise and delight when days or weeks later, my husband comes and talks to me about that exact issue. God has a way of putting something on someone's heart if they are open to listening.
When a Pharisee asks Jesus which is the greatest commandment in the Law, He responds, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matthew 22:37) When we do this, God helps us align our life. It's easy to get sidetracked and focused on the wrong things. It's simple to let your spouse's contrasts divide you. When you seek God, He has a way to bring you back together.
Your differences can cause times when it's hard to understand the other. It's also your differences and unique strengths that make you a strong pair. God has equipped you as a team, a unit with a unique set of gifts and abilities. When you can appreciate each other's skills and personality styles, you are better equipped to handle life's challenges together.
Appreciating Their Strengths
Constant noise can be overwhelming for an introvert. Most nights, you just want to curl up with a good book and decompress. However, the extrovert has a lot of strengths to offer the introvert. They make a good pair. Strive to understand and appreciate their strengths. What are some of these strengths? You can hang out next to them at a social event and not have to carry the conversation. Just by standing with them, you are immediately part of the conversation without having to figure out what to say next. You can stay with them until you find an individual you would like to have a deep conversation with.
The extrovert will keep your social calendar full. If the social calendar were solely in my hands, it would look sparse. Scheduling social events on the weekend does not make the top of my list. I have my husband to credit for keeping me out and about, meeting new people, and trying new things.
My extroverted husband loves to host, and hospitality has become part of our family values. Getting to know neighbors, friends, and church members is important to us, so we have people over often. Yes, this means more work for me, but it fills my husband's bucket, and I enjoy intimate conversation. Plus, I don't have to leave the house, a win for a homebody like me. Extroverts meet interesting people and make surprising connections. My husband has gotten us into many different family adventures just through conversations. They are also great at leading the dinner table conversation. After a long day, I'm pretty much out of energy and words. An extrovert can easily carry on the discussion.
The Lord made us all different. It's easy to get frustrated with our spouses because they see things from another angle; it's hard to appreciate their differences. Keep learning about your spouse and how you can help meet their needs. Serving them takes effort and intentionality. Deciding to love your husband or wife's differences is a decision. Focus on how these differences and skills work together to make your home better. God made both of you in His image. Trust His sovereignty and wisdom. Seek Him.
Katie T. Kennedy lives in Richmond, VA. She is married to a wonderful husband Jonathan and they have three girls. She is a writer, blogger, and employee of the family business. After a mid-life spiritual transformation, she discovered her love of writing. She loves to travel, read, be in nature, cook, and dream. She would love to connect with you online at www.katietkennedy.com, Instagram or Facebook.