Help! I Married an Introvert: Tips for Engaging the Strong, (more) Silent Type

Yup. My husband is an Introvert—capital “I”. Let me be clear: The guy loves people! His job is, for the most part, taking care of them. But this also means that by the time he crosses the threshold of Casa de la Breitenstein, he may have already utilized a solid 75% of his word quota, just by loving on people. He will chat animatedly with the kids, wrestle them on the rug to their hearts’ content, and take an active role in combat, er, kid bedtime. But by the time the last one finally falls silent, my man would often enjoy the same privilege: quiet, personal time.

I, on the other hand, am ready to externally process my day. After all, the events haven’t happened unless I have discussed them with someone else, right?

Our differences have led to no few misunderstandings and even isolation. But they’ve also driven us together in the ways we complement each other and we have learned to love well someone dramatically different.

I must admit: There’s a reason God fashioned us as such a perfect match, and there are a few aha’s I’ve been able to stuff in my marital backpack on the way. Wanna chat?

1. When he chooses alone time, it’s not necessarily about not choosing me. When I was first married, I felt sure that when he headed off to basketball for some verbally-minimal athleticism, he was choosing that over me. Now, I understand that he is choosing us. Sure, that’s not always the case, and I’m as likely to be selfish in my desire-turned-demand for conversation. But as he replenishes, he’s ready to give back more to our relationship. Now, I look for chances to let my spouse get some alone time and refuel.

2. He doesn’t have to be my everything. I’m one of those remarkably blessed women who’s married to their best friend. But as well-matched and one-flesh as we’re designed to be, God made me as part of a Body—meeting others’ needs and allowing some of my burdens to be carried. I’ve been guilty more than once of not actively pursuing authentic relationships with girlfriends. And that can place an unhealthy burden on my spouse.

3. Introversion doesn’t mean “don’t seek me out.” Many introverts still long for someone to pursue them relationally. There’s a reason they were attracted to your sunny social skills, your luminous conversation, your ease with people. Use those skills to gently, patiently plumb the depths of this incredible soulmate of yours.

4. Listen well. When in doubt, count five seconds—yes, five!—and see if there’s something he might add. Um, and put the kibosh to interrupting, turning the conversation to your own experiences, finishing his sentences, overreacting, etc. Ask questions to see if you understand what he’s communicating, and to draw him out. Introverts can often have a rich, contemplative thought life. Who knows what gems might be yours?

5. Remember that the times you feel connected may not be the times he feels connected. Your “love tank” may be filled after a soul-baring dialogue or a night of conversation with each other or with friends—which could be exhausting or less fulfilling to him. Get to know the ways your husband feels relationally satisfied.

6. On that note, take care not to outshine…or bowl over. I’ve found I can get going in conversation without allowing my man, who has some remarkable thoughts to contribute, to even take a breath. Instead, I can turn to him occasionally when someone asks a question of us. I can pause a few seconds allowing him to thank the lady at the drive-thru rather than hollering across him. I can use my social ease to uplift him, ask his opinion in group discussions, and act as his teammate—throwing him the ball rather than hogging it, so to speak.

7. Ask permission. Like any of us in an area that requires more energy, there’s a courteousness to simply asking if we can engage someone in conversation: Hey, you okay if we chat after the kids go to bed? Is this a good time, or are you in the middle of something? I need to talk with you about something ___-related after work—not an emergency, but I just wanted to give you a heads-up.

8. Consider structure that works for you. If you’re feeling deprived, consider discussing a rhythm that addresses both of your needs. Perhaps you can plan a catch-up time alone over coffee for fifteen minutes after the kids go to bed. Maybe you decide together that you’ll have the radio off when you drive together so you can chat, or that he’ll have alone time on Tuesday and Thursday nights. Maybe it’s a regular date night or “date in”.

9. Desire, but don’t demand. The longing we have to converse is deeply good, and part of the relational glue God gave us to hold us together. But personality type or “love language” isn’t an excuse for greed or selfishness in conversation or energy levels—just like it’s not an excuse to hole up, plug in, and tune out every night. Working out the kinks of that give-and-take, searching for that sweet spot where both our needs are met and we regularly lay down our desires for each other, is the work of marriage.

Are you the introvert or the extrovert in your relationship?

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8 thoughts on “Help! I Married an Introvert: Tips for Engaging the Strong, (more) Silent Type

  1. totally connected with this! My hubby is very outgoing and fun but behind that is a quiet-needing guy. this is a very good post on helping women navigate that in their marriage!

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    • Glad you can resonate. My husband was totally “talked out” last night, and I was thinking, yup…still need this stuff :).

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  2. I’m relatively more introverted then extroverted, but am married to someone who is much, much more introverted than I am.

    This creates somewhat of a quandry. Because of bad relationships (romantic and platonic) both of us have had – added to our already-seclusive natures – we tend to rely on each other emotionally more than perhaps we should. It’s hard to make new friends (or keep up with old ones) when one has been burned so many times. I’m not sure how to overcome this, but if anyone has any suggestions, that would be *great*.

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    • @ Lady Tam: Just so you know dear one, you and I are in the same boat. I pray that someone wiser in this forum would reply or reach out to answer. As I believe we truly desire to know how to do this right. Thanks for this post and for the comments.

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  3. Definitely needed to see I’m not alone in this. I’ve been struggling lately with the feeling isolated bit. It’s nice to have a reminder that many other couples struggle with the same thing. Thanks for the insight.

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  4. My husband is more quiet and introverted although he is super fun loving and great to be around, like most men I know he tends to run out words way before me or either of our two daughters ha! We both have come a long way in the last 20 years of meeting in the middle but I’m still pretty sure he enjoys leaving for the fire station for work where other guys have limited need to talk as well. Thanks for the great post!

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  5. Are you saying that men are spoiled and pout when things do not go their way? If so, where is the article that discusses how there are times when the wife needs the same things done for her. You see a marriage takes both partners doing for the other.
    I have related my own woman cave in my room and I go into that room to do my favorite activities, because if a man is going to act like a small child and be cold and distant, I on let those silly ,pods affect me. And when he wants attention and sex, then he will need to do the same things to get me interested just like your article tells wives to do.
    It is so sad in this country that we have the audacity to keep telling women to change her minds, bodies, and everything for a husband who is human and a sinner just like any other person. Please stop telling women to do these things unless you are going to tell the husbands the same advice.
    You see, there are times when a wife gets turned off and tired of his complaining and bad attitude. And there are times when a wife wants to divorce a husband because she is tired of you all preaching to wives, as if husbands are perfect. Look at all the evil men do in this world. Then preach to them instead of hammering at wives.

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