I remember exactly where I was sitting – in my parents’ van in the parking lot of their church – the moment when my future-husband (not-yet-boyfriend) told me these words, “Aprille, you and I could never be together. We are like oil and water. We would never mix.”
And yet, here we are – 10 years and 2 kids later.
He was wrong, obviously. I mean, we have to be doing something right. They say “opposites attract” – and in our case, I think it’s definitely true. Our differences (which are stark and many) complement each other well in countless different ways. He is the yin to my yang, the shot of whiskey to my glass of wine (we don’t drink – it’s a metaphor, people), the peanut butter to my chocolate…and on and on I could go. You get the point.
But on the other hand, there are sometimes I remember his words, and I think he might have been onto something.
You see, here is my honest confession as an introverted wife:
I love my husband to the moon and back. I just don’t always want to be around him.#introvertwifeconfession: I love my husband. I just don't always want to be around him.… Click To Tweet
And it’s not him, it’s me.
I mean, it kind of is him. Not because he is him, but because he is a very lonely extrovert who is very verbal about ALL THE FEELINGS and ALL THE THINGS.
Before we were married, we were up at my parent’s house one morning. I was getting dressed or something in my room, with the door shut, and he was outside knocking, saying, “APRILLE….I NEEEEEEED ATTENTION!!!!!”
This has become a running joke that we have returned back to throughout the years. Because, I mean, he was joking. Kinda. Sorta. Okay, not really.
And thus began almost-9 married years of him wanting, needing, craving interaction with me. He LOVES ME SO MUCH he wants to be with me all the time, talk to me, touch me, ask me questions, sing to me, hug me, rub me, ask me questions, and show me the 5,000,000 ways he loves me, by, like, asking me questions like, “HAVE I TOLD YOU LATELY THAT I LOVE YOU?!?!”
(Did I mention that he asks me a lot of questions?)
Oh, and because he is THE BEST HUSBAND EVER, he regularly does the dishes, helps with housework, and does things to encourage my self-care. Which is AWESOME. Except for all of the questions:
“Where does this go? What do you want me to do with this meat sitting out? It seems like we are out of bagels. Why are there 6 boxes of Cheerios again? Are you done drinking this? Does this basket go downstairs or upstairs? What is Ezra supposed to be doing right now? How can I help you feel better? Do you want me to make you some tea? Do you want to take a bath? What do you need?”
As an introvert, I was so not prepared for this. You see, I was subject to a lot of stereotypical marriage advice that basically said, “Women, you are going to desire to spend all the time with your husband. You are going to have all these feelings you want to express. You are going to want and need affection. You are going to want to cuddle and talk. Your husband is just going to speak in grunts and want sex. Then he’s going to want to be done with you. Getting affection out of him is going to be like pulling teeth.”
(I’m being facetious, but only a little.)
Add to that – I’m pretty sure that both of my parents and two out of my three brothers are all introverts. So introversion was sort of the norm for all of us.
Add to that – my husband is pretty…shall we say…intense? If you have ever met my husband or spent any time interacting with him in person, then this really needs no explanation. If not, well, I don’t really have words. So instead, I’ll just share a few pictures:
Add to that – Ezra, our 6 year old, is pretty much a carbon copy of his father, with a whole boatload of behavioral needs thrown in. He is a sensory-seeking, 5-million-questions-a-day-asking, loud, wild, fireball of a child who has ALL THE NEEDS.
It was in 2012 when I first came to grips with the fact that I’m an introvert (thank you Holley Gerth). I still carry a pretty intense interest in all things Myers-Briggs and personality typing. ISFJ describes me perfectly, and I think that’s really cool. But…NOW WHAT?
I need lots of alone time. I am a highly sensitive person who gets very easily overwhelmed by ALL stimuli (including touch, smell, sounds, crowds, and QUESTIONS). I’ve accepted the fact that I abhor wearing blue jeans, that there are certain times of the month that I can’t stand being touched, and that I need to communicate those needs to my family.
But it doesn’t really make it any less sucky.
I know that God made me this way. I know that He made my husband to be just the opposite. And I know that he put us together.
But it is really hard sometimes. For both of us.
He misses me (and all of us) when he is at work. Every single morning he mopes as he leaves the house because he wants, so desperately, to spend time with us. He loves to text me at work. One time, I counted and he had sent me 63 text messages in one day. No joke. (Then, two years later, we sat down and had a talk about boundaries. Because, I have, you know, THINGS TO DO.)
It’s not you, it’s me.
It’s not really that I don’t want to be around him. It’s that I don’t want to be around ANYONE. At all.
This past year, we had a fight (ish) because he wanted to know what I wanted for my birthday and where I wanted to go as a family. I said, “I just want to be left alone and be by myself because it’s MY BIRTHDAY. If I could spend the entire day in a hotel room by myself, I would!” Then he was ALL SAD because he wanted to spend my birthday with me. Then I felt like the worst wife ever. On my birthday.
This happens all the times. Holidays especially. Because when I hear “holiday” I’m thinking “Yay! Time for me to catch a break…take a nap…have someone else take care of the kids for once…lay on the couch and play on my phone while everyone ignores me…not cook…etc…etc…etc…” When he hears “holiday” he’s thinking “YAY! TIME TO BE WITH MY FAMILY WHO I LOVE SO MUCH! WHAT FUN THING SHOULD WE DO?!?! WHERE SHOULD WE GO?!?!? LET ME ASK MY WIFE WHO I LOVE AND ADORE SO MUCH!”
I hear you judging me right now. I hear you saying you would KILL to have a husband so invested and caring and interested and affectionate.
*heaps another pile of guilt on top of herself*
I carry a massive – I’m telling you MASSIVE – amount of guilt around all of the time about this. And not just because of other people who don’t have it as good as I do.
I carry guilt because WE WERE APART FOR WAS GONE FOR THREE YEARS. I missed him so much, and I would have KILLED to spend every waking minute with him. Just one more day. One more moment. One more hug. One more kiss. One more moment cuddling on the couch.
Now, I push him away. All the time. He goes in for a hug or a cuddle, and I jerk away because I’m overwhelmed and overstimulated and it’s just all. too. much.
And then I hate myself for it.
This is why my year pursuing whitespace was so important. This is why I don’t go to MOPS or MOMS or Bible studies anymore. I have learned that if I am going to have ANYTHING left over for him at the end of the day, I have to use the time Ezra is in school to bask in my alone-ness, watch Netflix, and recharge my introverted self for the afternoon and evening when my boys (Russ included) need so much of me.
My friend, Erica, over at Let Why Lead announced that she is going to be doing a blog series in the new year about surviving as an introvert mom. I messaged her this afternoon and pretty much begged her to write a post about this.
I guess, when it comes to being an introverted mom – I am okay with saying, “GO PLAY!” especially now that the boys have each other to play with. I feel like I’ve kinda-sorta settled into my life as an introverted mama. But as an introverted wife, there’s all this guilt that comes along with it that I don’t really know how to deal with.
We communicate really well, and he is really starting to “get it” when it comes to my being introverted and needing alone time. But that doesn’t mean that HE doesn’t have HIS needs and that I need to step out of my comfort zone and, you know, actually spend time with him. It can’t always be him leaving me alone, because then it’s not a marriage.
And it’s not about love. I’m full of love!
This introverted wife is just empty of energy. Of social resources. Of whatever it is that powers a person’s ability to interact with others without feeling completely overwhelmed and overstimulated.
This post, really, is just a vent. I’m hopeful that some other introverted wives will leave some comments that say, “YES, ME TOO!” and then I won’t feel like THE WORST WIFE EVER. So, if you have any encouragement or practical advice, PLEASE leave it in the comments!