Introversion is not the same as being shy, socially awkward or antisocial. Introversion simply means that spending time by yourself helps you to have energy, while spending time with people depletes your energy. This energy is usually emotional or mental, but can frequently translate to physical energy, as well. Social situations like parties or concerts are simply over stimulating, even if an introvert is having fun.
Introversion can be a challenging trait to bring into a marriage. After all, marriage is a relationship. And relationships revolve around interaction, teamwork and socializing. My husband and I have successfully navigated my affinity for alone time in many ways throughout our marriage. I hope the following tips will help you find success in your marriage, too.
1. Set aside time for your spouse to be a homebody
A little alone time is simply more important to your spouse’s well-being than social interaction. That means you may be sitting on the couch watching a movie more often than you thought you were going to. Just keep in mind that she’s watching it with you, which means that you have been invited into her private bubble. From an introvert, that’s a lot of love.
2. Be willing to cancel plans and create alternatives
Let’s say you and your spouse have plans to go to a party after work. You’re both excited about it, although you expect your spouse to talk to only one or two close friends while you circle the room. Now let’s say he has several unexpected meetings come up at work, leaving him feeling totally drained. A party can be really exhausting and even kind of paralyzing at that point. Adapting your plans accordingly will help your spouse feel loved and cared for.
3. Ask questions
Because introverts find social situations less appealing than extroverts, they may have a hard time communicating their needs simply because they don’t have as much practice. That’s why it’s important to ask questions if you want information. It’s also important because they may not realize that you want to know what they think since generally they keep their thoughts private (in part because they have so many of them.)
4. Entertain yourself
If you expect your introverted sweetheart to be engaged with you all the time, you’re going to be disappointed, not to mention lonesome. Schedule some time to hang out with friends if your social needs are not being met, or at the very least find something to do that makes you excited. That way, when your spouse is ready to interact, you will have something fun to tell her about. Just for the record, interrupting alone time for a quick hug and kiss is perfectly acceptable.
For me, this means that I enjoy socializing in my own home. This way, I have control over when the gathering starts and ends. I also get to be the one choosing the activity. For example, I sometimes choose a rather involved board game because it mitigates the need for conversation while still allowing everyone to interact. Socializing in my own home also allows me to find something inconspicuous to do while my husband continues conversing. This saves me from sitting in someone else's house, awkwardly wishing I had a book and a quiet room somewhere.
Keep in mind, your spouse may have exactly the opposite feelings. Maybe she would prefer to go out so that the safe, private space of your home remains uncompromised. The point is that your spouse needs to have a say in how he interacts with friends. This preserves it as an enjoyable, positive experience rather than a tiring, or even toxic one.
Although these ideas are bound to be helpful to your spouse, the most important thing you can do for him or her (and for your marriage!) is not to take it personally. I speak from experience when I say that many introverts would love to offer their company and good cheer whenever it's called for, but it’s simply not going to happen. However, as you are understanding of your sweetheart’s need for alone time, solicit his or her input, and remain cheerful yourself, you will create an environment where your introvert can reach out to others, especially you.