We’re all wired differently and the differences are never more evident than in marriage.

While navigating differences in relationships can present challenges, you’ll go deeper as your relationship grows and you become a student of your spouse.

Couples often encounter differences when one spouse is introverted and the other is extroverted. This can be a pretty noticeable difference based on the individual’s personality, but these types are often misunderstood. Let’s dive a little deeper into understanding them.

What’s the difference between introversion and extroversion?

The common perception of the difference between these two is that one is shy and the other is outgoing. While that can be true, it isn’t the rule.

Psychologist Carl Jung (the father of this whole conversation) classified the two groups based on where they find their energy. Extroverts are energized by the external world. Introverts are energized by alone time.

So, are they polar opposites?

Jung discovered that people aren’t necessarily one or the other. Instead, look at it as a spectrum. There can be varying degrees of introversion and extroversion.

My wife and I fall on different points of this spectrum. And it can fluctuate.

What does an introvert married to an extrovert need to know?

There are differences in how these two are wired. So, for the introverts out there, here are some things you need to know and some tips to help you navigate your differences:

Navigating social settings: As we discovered earlier, extroverts are energized by the external world. They are often the life of the party and they love it. They live to meet new people and experience new places. “Stranger” is a foreign word to them.

For the introverted spouse who likes to be alone, this can be a struggle. If they do go out in the crowd, they often want to be out of the spotlight. But if you know that your spouse is energized by being around others, you should talk about this.

It’s not fair to prevent them from being in social settings, but it’s also unfair to always send them alone. It’s possible to find a balance that meets your needs and your spouse’s needs while strengthening your relationship.

Talking about their problems: Extroverts usually find it easy to talk out their problems with others. They’re often more than willing to express their feelings, thoughts and issues.

On the other hand, introverts tend to internalize and think through things. They dislike conflict and will withhold their thoughts to avoid confrontation. For the health of your marriage, it’s essential to talk through issues and manage conflict together.

Introverts may need to step out of their comfort zone and discuss issues with their spouse. They don’t have to talk to all their friends about it, but need to express it to their significant other.

Remember, if you don’t discuss problems with your extroverted spouse, they will find someone to discuss them with. And the best place for marriage work to be done is in the marriage.

Taking risks: Extroverts aren’t afraid of risk. They may be more apt to engage in risky behavior than an introvert. Some studies have shown that they are wired this way. Their brain rewards them when risks go well.

One study found that risk-takers are rewarded with dopamine, a “feel good” chemical associated with pleasure and reward. So for extroverts, risk-taking brings about a rewarding sensation. The greater the risk, the greater the reward.

Introverts are more inclined to weigh the pros and cons of any risk. Whether diving into the stock market or diving out of an airplane, they think it through and process it. Their extroverted spouse just jumps.

The introverted spouse needs to express their desire to process to their spouse. You can’t hold them back from taking the risk, but you can be their cheerleader, so look for opportunities to support healthy risk-taking. Remember, they are wired to have a natural desire to take risks.

These are just a few ways that introverts and extroverts differ. Remember, this is a spectrum and you both may find yourselves at varying degrees on that spectrum. But most importantly, you need to recognize who you are, who they are and who you are together.

Marriage is about learning from each other and growing together. Be who you are and encourage your spouse in who they are.

Mitchell Qualls is the operations director at First Things First. Contact him at mitchell@firstthings.org

Mitchell Qualls is the operations director at First Things First. Contact him at mitchell@firstthings.org

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