The Search: spouses for extroverts, introverts
Most extroverts are loud, fast-speaking people who get their groove in the midst of people. They are what I call “outdoor people.” On the other hand, the introvert is your quiet, reflective people who get their groove being alone. I call them “indoors people.”
Putting the two personality types in broader perspectives:
“Extroverted people are the “social butterflies” of our society. An extrovert loves to be around other people. In fact, they often thrive on it. They are quick workers, but dislike jobs that are complicated.
“Introverts are the exact opposites of extroverts in many ways. They are the quieter people of the world. They often have trouble remembering names and/or faces of people they have met. They prefer to work alone lost in their own thought rather than working with other people on a project. Introverts are often seen as the “loners” of society. Introverts enjoy working on jobs that require a lot of thinking and that take long periods of time to complete.”
These differences test Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung’s observation that we are drawn to people different from. Recent research shows marital satisfaction is related to personality similarity. It shows that although opposites might initially attract, they can start to repel, if not identified and worked with, over time. For example, as I will explain presently, “when introverts and extraverts converse, what looks like communication can actually be a problem,” says psychologist Laurie Helgoe, assistant clinical professor at the West Virginia School of Medicine and author of “Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength”
The introvert is quiet and appears to be listening; the extravert takes this as a cue to keep talking. “The introvert may shut out the extrovert, perhaps while silently nodding, or stop trying to contribute,” Laurie says. The extrovert needs to learn to slow down, but the introvert needs to learn to speak up.
So what works?
Experts argue that although it looks commonsensical for introverts and extroverts to hit the marriage road, it could be very challenging. Yet, many experts do not rule out enormous challenges in pairing people of the same personality type. They say, left to their own devices or paired with a partner whose inclination is the same as theirs, each of their lives would be unbalanced in one direction or the other.
Specifically, experts Linda Bloom and Charlie Bloom say that “two extroverts would run the risk of burning out without sufficient down-time for rest and reflection. Things could also get heated between the two of them as their tendencies might cause them to run the risk of overloading their system possibly amplifying rather than reducing the stress level of their lives.”
They say the potential danger of a relationship with two introverts is pretty obvious. “Insufficient stimulation and inadequate external input. The net result of this is that the relationship and the passion level could flatline. More marriages die as a result of neglect than unresolved differences, so a two-introvert relationship carries its own set of risks as well.”
Looks like all the possible personality-type pairings in marriage are challenged. Indeed, all relationships have their unique challenges. And according to Bloom and Bloom “the predispositions that both partners bring are not the most important variable in the process.”
The great challenge of all committed partnerships, they say, is to commit to the fulfillment of the relationship and the needs of one’s partner without losing or neglecting one’s own needs in the process.
Both introverts and extroverts are challenged to reframe their view of their partner from judgment and resentment for not being more like they would like them to be, to gratitude for the value that they do bring into their lives. As this process evolves, appreciation replaces criticism and acceptance replaces judgment. It does take work and it does take time, but as countless couples know from their experience, the payoffs more than justify the effort.
Yes, it is all work to sustain harmony and happiness in a marriage. All marriages! For example, in the case of the Webers who disagreed on their outings, they finally learned to cope with their vastly different styles.
Patricia (introvert) and Marty Weber (extrovert) were in their walk-in closet one evening, getting dressed for a party, chit-chatting about their day, when Mrs. Weber made a casual request: “Honey, I really don’t want to be there all night. Can we leave after an hour or so?”
Angry, her husband took off his tie, threw it on the ground and shouted, “Just forget the whole thing! We won’t go at all!”
Their solution? Sometimes, they will drive to social events in different cars, so Mrs. Weber can leave early if she wants. Mr. Weber goes to a happy hour after work one night a week without his wife. They also spend every Saturday apart. He meets friends at coffee shops mid-morning and later gathers a crowd at a local pub for lunch. She stays home and reads, calls her parents, catches up on email and walks the dog.
“Both of you have to mellow out and find what works for you,” say Mrs. Weber
I will add quickly, “Trust is key in this arrangement.”