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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Meaning What I Sing

I love to sing songs to God in church. Not all songs, certainly, and not all verses/refrains in any particular song. I feel very strongly about meaning what I say, and sometimes I stop singing when I’m not quite sure I’m on board with a line or two in a worship song.

In particular, some songs bring up a lot of tension for me as an introvert. They may have their root in scripture (or they may not), but I have some difficulty singing them if they haven’t been contextualized for our modern day and if they seem rather extroverted on first look.

Verses like:

Shout it, go on and scream it from the mountains, go on and tell it to the masses…

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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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The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World, by Sophia Dembling

If you like snarky writing, short chapters, and information about the daily life of a typical introvert, this may be the book for you. I have a handful of books about introversion on my shelf, and this is the one I have the most fun reading. This sounds cliche, but I literally laughed, cried, and/or nodded along in agreement on every page.

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Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain

I’ve read my fair share of books on introversion, and I have a few favorites. One I like for its humor, one I like for speaking into my Christian niche, and this one, well, I like it for making me smarter. If I were to teach a class on introversion, I’d use Quiet as my primary textbook.

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Losing Her “Spark”

Long ago a friend of mine reflected on a friend of his, and his reflection has stuck with me over the years. He had observed that his friend, who used to be quite bubbly and energetic, became much more reserved and mellow since getting into a serious relationship with a very conservative guy. My friend was worried that his friend was changing who she was to accommodate her boyfriend’s expectations of what a good, proper, and (in their conservative Christian perspective) submissive woman was supposed to be.

I was never quite as bubbly as my friend’s friend. However, I was an introvert who often faked being an extrovert when I was trying to win people’s affection. And I worried that when I started intentionally choosing to act more introvertedly with people, that they would worry that I was changing myself for my boyfriend, too.

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Introverted Tips and Tricks

Here are some tips and tricks I’ve used to help me get in the habit of being introverted in the company of others without losing the ability to be friendly:

1. Learn to smile warmly (and not creepily) without showing your teeth, or just show a glimpse of them. Exaggerated facial expressions like full toothy smiles tend to tire introverts out faster.

2. Smile warmly (and hug if it’s that kind of relationship) when greeting someone, but don’t exaggerate your volume, pitch, or speed of talking.

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Taking Off My Mask

I grew up always trying to fade into the background. In high school I was voted (on an open ballot) as the 2nd-most shy person in the whole school. I was surprised that that many people knew my name! It made me realize that other people actually did see me despite my efforts for them not to, and that they had perceptions of who I was based on my quietness.

I didn’t like it. Being called stoic and shy made me seem unfriendly, unsociable, uninterested in the world and the people around me. The label didn’t really fit me—I had a solid group of friends I hung out with during and after school. I could act silly and laugh louder than any of them. The fact was, I was very social once I was comfortable with someone or a group of someones. The word shy was just what people who didn’t know me called me. I needed a new label.

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