I’m married to an introvert. And I love her with all my heart! But we are as different as night and day.
As I’ve been ‘studying my wife’ . . . trying to be more kind and empathetic, she’s been teaching me some things about introverts. It’s almost like learning a foreign language for me, an extrovert. Here are some of the things I’ve learned to do based on what she’s shown me . . .
- Give privacy – Introverts need time to refuel. Being around people sucks energy out of her, while it pulls energy in for me. I have to back off the social ‘gas pedal’ and give my wife room to breathe. She doesn’t want to be pushed to make a lot of friends; she’s happy with one or two . . . women with similar interests and values to hers.
- Never embarrass – Introverts like to be invisible in public, never the center of attention. And they never want to be reprimanded or interrupted in front of others. If you’re going to teach them something . . . a skill or a sport or how to dance . . . you must do it in private.
- Slow down – Introverts need time to process things. Let them observe new situations and challenges. Don’t ask them to go first. Ever. When you’re doing something involving them, give them advance warnings. “Hey honey, we’ll need to leave in about 15 minutes.” Surprises are almost never good with an introvert . . . they need time to think and prepare.
A long time ago, back when riding mechanical bulls was the thing, Miriam shocked our friends when she suggested we find one and give it a try. I was stunned! An hour later, we were in huge place near Conyers, Georgia. It looked exactly like Gilley’s from Urban Cowboy. Of course, three of us (all extroverts) were ready to jump in line and go for it. Miriam? Not so fast! I thought she was going to chicken out, but really, she was just processing. She watched the people who rode . . . watched their every move. She was learning while we were all talking trash and laughing it up. When it came my turn, I was off the bull in about 2 seconds. (I walked funny for two weeks!) But Miriam, my introvert wife, rode the bull at a higher speed than me and never got dumped!
I no longer try to change my introvert wife into an extrovert. In fact, maybe the reason we’re the happiest we’ve been in our 48 years is that I longer try to change her at all!
Scripture: In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered. (1 Peter 3:7)
Mentor Tip: What Radical Husbands Do is a book to consider for the marriage module if you’ve got guys who want to improve (or save) their marriages but don’t know what to do.