Married to a Non-Introvert

I am a super-introvert, and my husband definitely is not. Not that he’s an extrovert—that actually might have been easier to adapt to since he would have had a broader social circle to run around with and would have depended on me less for social stimulation. But he’s sorta in the middle of introversion and extroversion which means that he prefers to spend most of his time with one or two of his favorite people. And that almost always includes me.

So, spending time together gives him social energy, while mine becomes depleted (as is the case with all of my social interactions).

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Being Phlegmatic

A former supervisor-turned-dear friend once described me as someone who accommodates others day after day until reaching an unspoken limit where I can’t take it anymore. He said that’s when I “dig my heels in” and refuse to budge, catching everybody off guard because they had no idea I was accommodating that whole time since I seemed to be participating so willingly. I learned much later that this was classic Phlegmatic behavior.

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Unemployed Full-Time Work

Some of my longest, most depressing, and most anxiety-filled months were those in which both myself and my husband were unemployed, with rent and bills piling up every month on my credit card. Having that kind of stress and fear hanging over our heads was debilitating. To the degree that occasionally, out of hopelessness, we stopped applying to as many jobs as we could and just succumbed to the inertia that grabbed at us. Not getting the results for which we’d hoped discouraged us from putting more effort into trying.

I found that I needed a perspective-shift.

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Stress Magnet

I figured out a few years ago that I carry my stress in my jaw. It’s an ache that comes from constant jaw-clenching, and it’s my body’s way of telling me to lighten up or take a break. And it’s been talking to me a lot lately.

The problem is, I don’t have enough going wrong to warrant that kind of constant tension in my jaw. I make stress when there is none, or at least when there is very little.

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Non-Verbal Affection

Sometimes I am so exhausted that my over-taxed brain just cannot pull it together to work with my mouth to produce words that make any sense. And often when this happens I’m in a situation where I cannot escape into a quiet room all by myself, and sometimes there’s someone with me I care very much about who wants attention and affection.

So I’m learning how to communicate non-verbally. Being present with another person, showing them I care about them, without talking. Here’s how:

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Self-Care

I was talking with a girlfriend a few months back about her and my tendency to give so much to others that we forget to take care of ourselves. It is a self-neglect that many (though certainly not all) women are plagued with. While we’re busy taking care of everyone else, some of us ask very little in return (some people, like our pre-adult children, would be inappropriate to ask), and it can lead to a lot of burn-out, frustration, and bitterness. Especially if we’ve not learned to a) express our needs in a mature healthy way, and b) take care of our needs ourselves instead of wait for what may never come from the people we love.

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Tips for a Restful Sabbath

We all need rest from the hard work we do every day. We need to catch our breath every once in a while–a chance to drop our guard, to not be needed, and to allow ourselves to be human and receive what we need. Even for just a few moments of the day.

Nine years ago I was challenged to take more than a few minutes. For the sake of my sanity and my ministry, I set aside a whole day each week, hoping to find rest and the strength to jump back into another week with renewed energy. Many faith-filled people refer to this day as Sabbath.

Most weeks I failed. Not because I didn’t take the day, but because many of the activities I thought would recharge me, didn’t. Some actually sapped energy away and made me feel less rested than when the “day of rest” had begun. But over the years of trial and error, little by little I discovered activities that replenished my energy, that brought glimpses of emotional healing to my heart, that allowed me to slow down, that made me feel like a human again after a whole week of working like a machine.

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