“I’m an introvert who needs a lot of quiet time alone. My husband is an extrovert with an open door policy to his friends. We keep going round and round with this one. How can we both get what we need?”
First, both people are right. She knows what she needs, and he does, too. That’s a (very) good thing.
How do you figure out how to get what you need, when your partner wants the opposite?
You do not get there by:
- pushing against the other person, duking it out, grabbing what quiet time you can get and being mad or disappointed when you don’t get what you need.
- assuming you can’t get what you need because he wants the opposite.
- assuming sacrifice is the answer, meaning “I must sacrifice what I want so you can have your needs met.” (And then, by the way, I’ll hate you and it will spill out in surprising and icky ways which neither of us will enjoy or feel good about.) Or the opposite, meaning you must sacrifice so that my needs are met, which is just as distasteful.
You do get there by:
- regarding the situation as temporary
- assuming there’s a good solution you haven’t thought of yet, that will not only satisfy you both, but will thrill you both, and bring you closer.
- being creative problem solvers — get curious, play with ideas, brainstorm, be light-hearted, feel receptive rather than combative or in competition, be open to unusual solutions.
- coming from partnership and being willing to help each other (or find someone who can help you)
- coming from a place of optimistic generosity rather than scarcity (I’m sure there are ways to work this out and I’m looking forward to that vs. here we go again, this will never work, or I can’t get enough of what I need)
For sure, the more you push against the other person to get what you want (energy of blocking or preventing) the more they push back and the two of you are stuck. You’re locked in.
What is a female introvert? What does that mean?
An introvert is a person who is energized by spending time alone. Introverts use the cocoon method of recovery and re-generation. We get under the covers. We get quiet, sleep, read, and putter around the house when nobody’s around. We don’t answer the phone. We meditate, contemplate or write in our journal. We take time for a home spa day, with soft music, a hot bath, soothing scents, and soft light. If no one is around, it makes it — way! — easier to relax and go within.
If you don’t take human instinct into the equation when it comes to intimate relationships (and this is a big subject) it is my humble opinion that you’ve got no chance in a million of creating a brilliant relationship.
There, I said it.
To truly have fun with each other, to take things less seriously, you’ve got to know a little about your inner cavewoman and his caveman. You’ve just got to. We can’t cover this sprawling subject here, but that blog post will get you started.
Here’s a tiny example of how cavewoman applies to the question at hand.
When “female” is added to the introvert equation, the importance of “no one being around” heightens. This is because the feminine aspect is very tuned in to the environment. On the level of instinct, the feminine aspect is constantly scanning regarding physical safety. Compared to the masculine, we’re smaller and weaker, and we scan for survival purposes. It’s built into our DNA. It’s totally natural. If you don’t believe me, think about how you get out of your car in a dark parking lot in an unfamiliar city. That’s a clear example, but there are many other subtle examples all day long.
In addition to safety first, there is also the instinct of nurturing. In the hunter-gatherer model, females are generally the gatherer, and also the nurturer. We take care of the young especially, but we take care of whoever is around that could use a little nurturing. If guests are in our house, we think about them. Are they hungry? Are they comfortable? Do they need extra blankets and pillows? Are they happy and content?
So to regenerate, females need a break from having others on our radar. For mothers with children, it’s heavenly when the husband leaves for work, the kids go off to school. Then, you can turn your full attention to other things. When the house clears and becomes quiet, maybe you walk to your painting studio and do your thing. Or you write, meditate or exercise before you head out for the day, because you know everybody’s OK, and your radar is clear. For women who have company for the weekend, no matter how much we enjoy having them in our midst, it’s always lovely when everyone leaves.
- Do you know how you work best, what you need, or what brings out the best in you?
- Are you able to explain this fully to your partner/mate?
- Are you curious what your mate needs, too? Have you asked him/her?
- Are you willing to explore with your mate for possible answers that work for both of you?
Tell your husband what it does for you to have your quiet space. Also tell him what this means for him. What kind of person/partner does this allow you be? How does this bring out the best in you? When you get your quiet time, you feel more (what?) and what does that mean for him? What can you give him when you’ve had your down time?
- “I like you (much) better when I feel rested and relaxed.”
- “I like you better when I feel like a woman.”
- “When I’ve had time to myself, I’m in love — with me, with life and with you. I want to be in love with you, so having my down time is important.”
So, sometimes, it’s just a matter of telling your husband what having what you need does for you — and then he’s all over it. He wants to give that to you, because he wants to enjoy the best of you, not the watered down, irritated snapping turtle version.
Give this problem to him. Ask him to help you solve it or be a part of solving it. And then give useful feedback that guides him. And be direct. “No, that doesn’t help.” Or “Yes, that helps.”
You might say, “There’s something I need, I don’t know how to get it and I’d love to hear your ideas.” The masculine enjoys solving problems, and especially likes solving problems that makes a better world for you, and therefore for him. Everybody wins.
Maybe there’s an easy adjustment that would work for both of you. Can some of his extrovert time happen outside the home? Meet at a park/soccer field/football field/golf course, or somebody’s office or wherever. Or what about the location for your quiet time? You leave for a spa day while he has buddies over to watch football? You come home all happy, he’s had time with his friends, and you’re both flying high. You like each other better when you’re flying high!
Solutions will come when you decide to be partners. Your description of your starting point is two people on opposite sides of the fence. You’re not holding hands thinking about this subject together and being curious about the solutions. It sounds like more of a tug-of-war contest, which is why it goes back and forth or “round and round” as you said.
So to find your solutions, shift gears. Look at the problem together. Call on your best creative problem solving skills, be curious, and see what shows up! You’ll find your answers!