This post is written by Derwin Long, my husband and friend for 28 years.
How Extroverts Love Introverts?
My wife asked me to write a follow up to her blog last week and immediately I said yes, but then I had second thoughts. Primarily because I got to thinking how can I write this and not come off as being condescending or sounding like introverts are somehow lacking in some important traits. However in the end I obviously decided to write this as I do feel it is important. So with that disclaimer I will attempt to share my experiences and thoughts.
Have you ever been in a social setting (my definition is more than 4 individuals) with mostly couples and notice someone who seems to be totally out of place? They aren’t talking, maybe not even smiling and possibly even separating themselves from everyone. Or maybe they are there and laugh with all the conversations but never say a word (this was my wife). What used to come to my mind at first was that this person was upset, unhappy or just doesn’t like being there or maybe doesn’t like someone that is there? Some of us are the one who is at ease in social settings and in fact enjoy them, but have to answer difficult questions about our introvert spouse? It can be very frustrating getting asked all the questions from your friends, like mentioned above, but ultimately the question is “What’s wrong with him/her?” Personally, I would just play it off with friends and say she is just quiet. At home the conversation was different and at times turned into an argument. Ultimately I had good intentions and just wanted everyone to love the person I knew, but I wasn’t very good at conveying that or understanding what it was like for her.
Coming Together as One
Here is where you might expect to get some great words of wisdom or a recipe for fixing what seems to be broke, but what we found out is that it is pretty simple. We never quit or gave up on each other. We are one, so what one feels the other feels or tries to understand. We are better together because we are different and bring a balance to each other’s life.
Mark 10:8, And the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one.
Proverbs 27:17, As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
What does this look like in practice for us? Well there are two sides to this, one is how do I help my wife in social settings? There are many examples that show us Jesus was very social and enjoyed weddings (who wouldn’t like to taste his wine), feast and parties.
- Initially, I would never leave her side at social setting, why would I leave her when I know she needs me to support her. Seems obvious but we have witnessed someone we know that is an introvert get left to fend for herself. This doesn’t work for several reasons: one is that as your spouse is possibly your only source of safety and comfort. Two is that it puts a huge amount of responsibility to entertain and include someone when their sensory system is on overload and looking for someone who really wants to take the time to have a deeper conversation, than the typical social banter is unrealistic in many social settings.
- After getting more comfortable being in these settings, I would give openings for her to step in to the conversation, which can be difficult when in a group of extroverts. (We had discussed and talked about this before going). I might say “Oh my wife has a story to go along with that, why don’t you tell them” or when opportunity is right share a talent or personality trait that at that time she would never share about herself like. “Do you know she can crochet?” Or “Do you know she can speak whale?” (Finding Nemo). Doing this gives others insight into her and her personality and in a way that gives others a chance to ask questions.
- Which is another important thing an introvert can do when at a loss for what to say. Have a thought out series of questions that you know and have memorized. After all what is one of the best ways to show sincere interest? Now you may say how is it sincere when you have preplanned these questions? Because you practice what you aren’t comfortable with doesn’t mean you aren’t sincere, it means you want to get better.
Two is how does she help me learn more about myself? There are many examples where Jesus withdrew from everyone and spent time alone with his thoughts and in prayer.
- Being an Extrovert I can seem somewhat superficial, never taking anything serious, always joking especially in social setting. Some of it is an intentional desire to be liked and be the life of the party, some of it is just a way to disconnect and have fun. My wife has taught me even in social settings to be comfortable going deeper with friends and building stronger relationships. We used to have zero couples that we considered close friends but now we are blessed to have at least 4 or more that we share life with. Ecclesiastes 4:10 If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.
- She has also taught me that I need time to just do nothing, listen to music, maybe read a book, Bible or just be alone with my own thoughts. There was a time when I couldn’t be still always thinking about what needed to be done or what I wanted to do, but now our favorite place to enjoy downtime is on a beach with several umbrellas and no place to be other than there. These times have been some of my favorite.
- She has also taught me that not every moment has to be filled with talking whether in social setting or just me and her. That just because no one it talking doesn’t mean anyone is upset and in a social setting just because I think it, doesn’t mean it should be said.
Ecclesiastes 3:1, To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.
Final thoughts: Ultimately I think we all want close relationships with our spouses, children, friends, and in business. Being an introvert or extrovert can be helpful or it can get in the way. I challenge you to get out of your comfort zone whatever that is and experience life from a different perspective.