By Maggie Reimherr
What a wonderful time to be an introvert. Over the last few years, introversion has somehow gone from “antisocial” to cool, hip, and introspective. Good news to me, as some of my favorite hobbies are journaling and watching Netflix. Time alone ~*revives*~ me. However, the whole marriage thing has really thrown this introvert for a loop. How do you be a person who’s refreshed by spending time alone when you share 850 square feet + your bed with another person?
I always thought I was a morning person until the first few weeks of our marriage, when my extroverted husband would walk into the living room and try to speak to me while I was journaling and drinking my coffee. Rude, right? Mornings as a single person had always been a sacred time: I woke up early, made a cup of coffee, and curled up back in bed to write. Now there’s another human in my space. He's another human who I love to spend time with, but sometimes I just need some peace.
My insistence that this was “how I did the mornings” did not fly with my husband; it actually ended up hurting his feelings. Human interaction fills his tank and makes him feel loved. When he’s around another person, he wants to talk. Sometimes he wants to be social, and I just do not. Here’s how we are learning to meet each other’s needs as well as our own:
1. Ask your spouse what they need.
I know you’re not a mind reader, so you may not intuitively know exactly what your spouse needs with regards to how you spend your time at home. So just ask. Derek does a great job of this. I get home from work, and Derek asks me what I want to do that evening. Sometimes, I want to hang out together. Sometimes, I want to take my laptop into our room and watch Gilmore Girls.
2. Communicate your needs with openness and honesty.
If I said, “Yes, babe, let's do something tonight!” every night, I'd be doing myself and our relationship a disservice. The same goes for Derek if every night he said, “Yes, sweetheart, you spend time by yourself, and I'll just play video games.” We each have emotional needs that we have to communicate if we’re going to meet them.
3. Set expectations.
Have clear expectations for how you want to spend your time, both individually and as a couple. Derek and I talked a lot about the best ways to handle the mornings. We realized that we can get up at the same time. He heads straight for the shower, using up all of the hot water in the process, and I head for the Keurig and the couch. By the time he’s done singing through the greatest hits of Justin Timberlake, I’m done with my cup of coffee and my morning writing. For the rest of the morning until one of us leaves for work, we spend time together eating breakfast, packing lunches, and chatting. It’s a perfect balance between Derek’s and my desires.
A little less than 3 months into marriage, we’re by no means experts, but this introvert and extrovert are learning to love each other better each day.