Extro Loves Intro

I have been trying to write this post *in my head* for three days. Turns out that when you have a new baby, your brain leaks out at night and you have to start all over again every morning. Hence, this is technically the third draft of this post, although I have no recollection of the first two.

Can we discuss introverts who are partnered up with extroverts? And by discuss, I mean that I will ramble on, and then you will comment and then I will reply. If we were in real life, we could just converse like normal humans. Oh, wouldn’t that be great?

Which brings me to my first point. I like real (and virtual) people. I feel energized when I am around them. I like to talk for the most part. On the introvert/extrovert scale, I am only slightly extroverted. Which means I am not a total wilting flower when left alone, and appreciate some time by myself. However, I don’t need tons of recovery time after social activities.

I married an introvert (INTJ). (By the way I ❤ INTJ’s. Can’t think of one that I haven’t gotten along with swimmingly, but they are anything but simple.) Many of my favorite people on this earth are introverts. I’m attracted to them, and count many of them among my friends. This does not mean they are shy. Introverted is often interchanged with the word shy, and that is simply wrong. It also has a negative connotation which bugs the crap out of me. They are often just misunderstood.

I have linked to this article before, but I HIGHLY recommend that you read it if you live with someone who is introverted. Or if you yourself are introverted, link your significant other to it so they will know how to care for you properly. It’s not very scientific, and a bit satirical, but has some good points. Go now. I will wait…

You are back! Or you’re just faking like you read it. For those of you who fake-read it, just know that basically introverts lose energy from being around people, and extroverts gain energy. Introverts need a recovery period for every hour they spend with other humans.

This brings me to the meat of my story. I swear to you that Justin and I are both reasonable and intelligent people. But two weeks ago we decided to freaky Friday our lives. I, the slightly extroverted girl (ENTP) who worked at a big office with lots of people around all day, decided to stay home alone with a young baby. Justin, the introverted guy who has been a student without a full-time job for many years, decided to go work at an office with people who talk to him all day long.

SQUARE PEGS, ROUND HOLES.

So this is an interesting transition for both of us to say the least. It is the best thing for our family and we are determined to make it work.

Did I mention we have a 9 week old baby in the mix? Yes.

We are both sticking by our decision and neither of us want to complain because we both are silly in love with our new jobs. And we are both extremely lucky to have them. That being said, there are some things that we need to figure out about our new lives.

Maybe your life is set up in a similar way? Example: I have been home all day, talking to no one but myself, the baby, and the interwebs. This is all well and good, but naturally I am excited when it is time for Justin to come home. We are buddies and I miss my buddy. 5 o’clock hits and I get antsy. Often 6 o’clock comes and goes as well. Around 7, I am dying to see him. I want to talk about the day and be with him and do family time stuff.

He is happy to see me, but the difference is that he is arriving home already exhausted from being around people all day. No matter how much he loves his job, he can’t be himself unless he gets some recovery time alone. He will be a crazy person without it. This doesn’t have to happen immediately when he gets in the door, but by 9 p.m. he is basically telling me to go to bed. SAD FACE. It’s not anything against me personally, but it still stings. This is one of those things I am trying to be understanding about, but it isn’t easy when I have been alone all day and am enjoying real companionship.

Here is another example of how this introversion thing works: If we are going out to a social thing, he will be very social and have a great time while he is there, but then he needs twice that amount of time to recover from this event. This usually isn’t a big deal to me, as I have gotten used to this over the past 7 years. It is second nature, unlike the new 9-5 weekday thing we are figuring out.

My new worry surrounding this issue, beyond driving my husband crazy, has to do with family activities. Since Benton is still a wee baby at the moment, we don’t take him out a ton. But what happens when the weekends become less about lounging and more filled with outings? Will Justin be OK?

We excitedly discuss all the fun things we want to together as a family, but they are likely going to take place during the weekends. I am not suggesting that family activities will be as socially draining as the workday is; I’m pointing out that they will take time out of the recovery period that he needs as an introvert after working with people all week. Does that make sense? And what happens when we have more kids and there is even less time to spare? Are there any introvert breadwinners out there with a bunch of kids that have it all figured out?

I am assuming we will adjust and find somewhat of a balance, but he is forever and always going to be introverted. I don’t want it to sound like a bad word, it just means he is always going to need his own time. So my guess is that he will have to have dad-is-recovering period at night when we are all in bed. Sleep will likely get pushed further down on the priority list.

Does anyone reading this have a similar situation? Any tricks or wisdom to share?

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23 responses to “Extro Loves Intro

  1. Oh, mama…reading this post is like having you sneak into my brain, crawl around and then write exactly how I felt just a couple months ago. I’m the extro, he’s the intro. He recently started working from home with me, which makes things a TON better, but before that, it was exactly the same situation.

    Does his “alone” time exclude your son, too? If he’s willing to stay with the little Mr. and get some kinda alone time with him, could you go out with a friend or two? Even when I didn’t have a ton of cash, a buddy and I would go somewhere for a cup of coffee, walk around window-shopping, or even grocery shopping, and just CHAT our brains out!

    Then, maybe he’ll get his “me” time in while you’re gone and then the two of you can share more quality family time when you get back.

    That’s how I survived, anyway.

    • Right now, the alone time doesn’t exclude the baby. He is holding him now and I am blogging in the other room. I guess it is a good way to keep up on posts! I like the idea of getting out. I wish I had more friends in the neighborhood.

  2. I’m a major intro, hubs is a major extro. As I type this, I came home from a party at the neighbors’ house because I’m exhausted, and he’s still over there chatting away–I’ll probably be asleep for an hour+ before he comes home!

    The only advice I can give is to find some mommy friends to hang out with. There are tons of groups on Meetup, you can try looking into “play groups” (even though Benton is too small to “play” right now, everyone knows play groups are really for mommies!) in your area, or a book club, or or or (etc).

    I do give you tons of credit for having such a grasp of what Justin needs and how it just is the way he’s wired and it’s not personal. Jason knows but still struggles with it, I have to remind him constantly and set very clear boundaries and expectations… he loves to stay until the end of a party until the hosts are (this has happened) falling asleep on the couch! Kudos to you for getting it and doing what you can to find a balance so you’re both happy!

  3. Oh gosh, this is my life exactly! I actually “for serious” read that article, and it was fantastic, and I think I’m going to e-mail it to family, because there are lots of extro’s paired with intros in my family!

    These are a few of our struggles:
    We have the same he works all day, I’m home all day issue. He comes home, wants to vent about his day, and then go be alone. Or play with the kids, eat dinner, put them to bed, and then be alone. And, I really want to be with him, and I want “us” time. But, he doesn’t really want to “talk”, because he’s so drained and needs to recover. We usually can compromise by watching a movie together and snuggling (but no talking, LOL). I get hurt when he finally does ask me about my day, and I talk and talk and talk (I love that part of the article where they say that intros think before they talk, and extros think AS they talk) and then he gently, kindly says, “Okay babe, I’m exhausted, I need to go”. I’m hurt because he interrupts me, and well, he kind of has to, because otherwise I might talk all night.

    The other issue is this whole social thing. He really needs downtime, and I want to go-go-go! If it’s something that we can bring the kids to, then he’s better, because he can play and take care of them, and have the perfect excuse to not talk to everybody (and not feel bad about it), and I can chat and work the room. 🙂 But, I feel like people don’t get the chance to know the super awesomeness that is him- and he lacks any close friendships, and I think he needs that.

    Also, our other big thing right now. After church, a bunch of us want to go out to lunch every week, and as soon as service ends he’s all “WHEN CAN WE LEAVE??” and I just want to stay for hours and talk to everyone, and then go to lunch too.

    So… we have two kids, and we are still figuring it out. I think we survive because like Jessi said, his alone time doesn’t have to exclude the kids.

    Hope you guys find your own little thing that works!

    • I totally understand this. I think it is an interesting point about the social situations with kids along. Justin isn’t drained by the baby. They are having “alone” time together right now! Ha. I am glad you read the article by the way. It’s funny but true.

  4. Oh, and also, I’m an ENFJ (Extroverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging) and hubby is an ISFJ (Intuitive, Sensing, Feeling, Judging). Basically… I’m a teacher and he’s a guardian/protector.

    Love those personality things!

  5. Oh boy…well I wish I had words or wisdeom but 12 years, 4 kids later…we are still a work in progress in this department. On top of it, hubs often travels during the week and recovery time after travel is BIG. When we go to social events, he’s goog for awhile but then he’s ready to go, and when he’s ready, he’s ready.I do try to find some of my outlets with girlfriends but lately I feel like I have been moving away from some of the social circles I have been in and feeling a need to find new ones. I wish I had more advice and less of my own rant going on here…just know you’re not alone!

    • Oh my. I didn’t even THINK about the travel thing. My husband hasn’t had to just yet. Hopefully he won’t be for a few years at least. Good luck on finding some new social circles. It sounds like they may be the key to all this. ❤

  6. Wow, I had no idea this problem was so common. Everything that you and Capri said is true in our household. Luke is an introvert who talks to people all day long at work. I am an extrovert who talks to my kids all day. By the time Luke has regrouped and has the energy to talk with me, we are in bed and he starts falling asleep while I’m talking. I am an ENFP and he is an ISTJ. According to everything I have ever read we are supposed to be horrible for each other, but obviously, we aren’t. And we do make it work. I had a rough and lonely time at first, but we both push ourselves a little bit to meet the other one’s needs. Blogging is also helpful because it gives me an outlet where I can “talk” about stuff. If you want to talk you can always call me up on my phone, okay? We can talk talk talk.

    • Yeah, I feel for you. I’m pretty excited for Benton to talk, just so I can have a two-way conversation. Not that it will be about anything more than dirt, but that’s something. I agree that blogging is definitely a good outlet. I so wish we were neighbors! Maybe I need to make an effort to meet my real neighbors over here. Hmmm…

  7. I’m lucky in a way cuz we are both introverts. Really strong introverts. I think our dream future would have both of us working from home hanging out with each other, cats and kids.

  8. i just had matt take the test. we knew he was extro, but the rest was interesting, too. [ESTJ] matt just asked me to send the caring for your introvert article. =)
    so, yes…i am intro loving extro. it is touchy and crazy and so much work, but it is totally the reason we fell in love. so it works and many, many times it reminds us how good we are for each other.
    i love this affirmation that there is research behind me needing a certain amount of alone time after being w/ people. i find this late into the night. it seems like i need around 3 hours to myself at night…whether that means i go to bed at 10 or at 4am to get it. i NEED it.
    also, i find it really interesting to read who is intro/extro here. it’s hard to tell on the internet. [people usually don’t believe i am. i can fake extro well when needed.]

    • I think the test is so interesting. I was obsessed with it when we first took it. I am glad Matt is reading the article! I also think it is interesting to see who is intro or extro online. Because everyone always seems extroverted. Curious though, does your alone time ever involve the kids? Or is it TOTALLY alone?

  9. Oh Megan, how I empathize with your situation! My husband is also an introvert, to a shocking degree. He comes home and I can literally SEE what his demeanor at work must be; it’s like upon entering our little abode, his safe center, he needs to decompress and allow himself time to become relaxed and comfortable. It’s still hard sometimes, but now that Henry is 4 and baby #2 is on the way, it’s easier for him to listen to me babble immediately upon his entrance.

    I can’t believe Benton is 9 weeks already! I remember Tweeting with you when you were just pregnant…my how fast it does go 🙂 You look amazing, by the way! And that little man of yours is as handsome as they come.

    • There are so many couples in the same boat as us. It is interesting to hear how everyone works it out.

      Yes, I can’t believe how fast time goes. I hope I don’t blink and accidentally send him off to college!

  10. Oh wow, thanks so much for this!! I had never heard anyone describe this about needing a recovery period after being around others, but you are describing me exactly. Which makes me feel so much better because I always felt selfish or bad about wanting to go hide by myself sometimes, or not being able to carry on a conversation with my husband after a day at the office. I never would have thought of myself as an introvert, but I guess I am! I can’t wait to take the test and read the article. I will be very interested to see what you guys come up with on this – I have worried what I will do if we are blessed with kids, since obviously you cant’ just go hide once they come along! I figured I’d just suck it up, but I am so glad to read these comments and hear how everyone else handles it. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Thanks! He does, he is great, and now I will try to stop feeling guilty about it armed with my new knowledge. I’m a lawyer too, so I totally understand your husband’s feelings about his new job. I remember my first year – I would come home every day and want to go immediately to bed. I can understand why that would be so hard for you though, since you’ve been home with someone who can’t talk all day! I’m sure you guys will figure something out – can’t wait to see what it is!

  12. oh girl. we talked about it a little bit on twitter but i am on the opposite side of your coin. i’m the intj and my husband is the enfp. what i’ve found interesting is that in our relationship he isn’t part of the “them” in me and them. being with him IS like being alone. so oddly, as long as we’re home together, i can still recharge and we don’t need to separate. but that also part of a much more complicated issue i have going on with social anxiety disorder.

    when we had a baby i found that he just became part of that “us” unit. so i can regenerate as long as we’re together as a family, or alone, it’s just outsiders who flip me out.

    regardless, we still struggle in our relationship because he wants to go out and do things and i want to hibernate in our house. we try to keep open communication about it and that helps… sometimes.

    however our issue is obviously a little different because we both work outside the home. both the introvert and the extrovert spend all day talking to people. the side effect of this is that i’ve become super attached to our post-work routine- come home, snack the buddy, pump, wash bottles, change pants. i’m pretty cranky when this doesn’t happen if i don’t have enough notice.

    the way you’re describing it i sound like a strange intj, because i don’t run to complete solitude. anyway, i think the best thing that both of you can do is TALK about it. if you’re feeling pent up, TELL him. at least then he’ll understand where you’re coming from. tough stuff.

  13. You know, I’m the intro, he’s the extro and we’re in your exact position: I’m working right now while he’s at home. Except, we’re not doing this by choice, because we’d want it the other way around.

    When I’m at home with the baby we do stuff together, just baby and me, and it’s all good. When Anthony gets home, we do family stuff together. When Anthony stays home with the baby he ALWAYS does social things: visit a cousin, or a grandma, or have friends over, or visit the flea market. He gets out there and does stuff. He gets worried that I don’t “get out there and do stuff” but really, I’m totally happy at home.

    I would do a search for Mom’s Club online and get involved in the club in your area. Mom’s Club is inexpensive and full of other women (and even Dads!) in your position.

  14. My hubby and I have never switched roles like that but we have struggled a bit figuring out how to come home from work and have anything left for each other. It is hard. One thing that I love but maybe wouldn’t work for him is that he takes the bus to and from work. That time on the bus he is listening to music and reading. It helps give him a little bit of time to refresh from the day before walking in the door.

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