7 Secrets To A Successful Introvert-Extravert Marriage

By Anni


There’s a particular scene that used to be played on repeat in my marriage.  It was my husband, approaching me – cautiously because he already had a feeling of impending danger about how this was going to unfold – with an invitation to this or that random event involving a group of people getting together.

I would say yes, because I felt bad to always say no, but I would regret it immediately.  And at some point between accepting the invitation and the actual event, I would start an argument about it. Couldn’t we stay home just the two of us? Why the need for constant interaction that was mostly going to consist of superficial small talk anyway? What’s the point? Why is my presence necessary?

My husband, on the other hand, had a hard time understanding why I wasn’t more like him.  All these people were so nice and so much fun. Why was I rejecting them? Why couldn’t I just sacrifice a few hours for his sake? What was the big deal?

The big deal was that my husband and I happen to have very different personalities – including the fact that I’m an introvert, while he is an extravert.

I’m an INFJ in the Myers-Briggs system and as introverted as an introvert gets. There is no such thing as too much alone time for me. And while I can sometimes act extraverted, my preference is definitely to hang out in the la-la land that is my brain. My picture should be slapped onto all dictionaries next to the word “dreamer”.

My husband is an ESFJ and he is the doer to my dreamer. He is an extravert and will quickly grow antsy without a mile-long activity list and likes the stimulation that comes from being social.

So how does a couple like this make a marriage work?

Well, I’ll be completely honest here and say that it hasn’t been easy and that it will be a work in progress for the rest of our lives.  But with time and maturity we have figured out how to accept each other’s temperaments and live in harmony (for the most part anyway 😉 ).

Here are my seven tips for how to make it work based on 23 years and counting in an introvert-extravert relationship.

Can an introvert-extravert marriage be successful? For sure! I'm an introvert married to an extravert and here are 7 things my husband and I do to make our introvert-extravert relationship work.

7 Secrets To A Successful Introvert-Extravert Marriage

1. Be Aware

The number one – by LIGHT YEARS most important – ingredient of a healthy introvert-extravert marriage is awareness. Even with introversion getting quite a bit of press in recent years, bunches of people still don’t know that the differences we see in introverts and extraverts arise from brain differences that we are likely born with.  And there is a whole lot of science out there backing this up if you do some googling.

To live happily ever after, it’s important that both parties of the introvert-extravert couple:

  • recognize that their differences are normal personality variations
  • stop thinking that there must be something wrong with the other person
  • stop waiting for the other person to change

So just snap your fingers and make that happen!

Just kidding. 😉 In my own marriage, I did first snap my fingers, but then I also printed some articles I found online and made my husband kindly asked my husband to read them. And then I danced around in a very extraverted way and shouted “SEE, THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH ME!”

2. Respect Each Other’s Energy Needs

The most crucial difference between extraverts and introverts has to do with energy. Extraverts tend to feel energized by social situations and high activity levels. Introverts, on the other hand, will have their energy depleted faster in social situations. They usually need quiet and solitude to recharge after socializing.

The party that gets my husband all jazzed up leaves me with a tension headache. I like hanging out with people, but I need time to recover afterwards.  And I don’t just sortofkindof need it. It’s vital for my well-being like air to breathe and water to drink. I have tried living without regular quiet time and the results are not pretty. First I get exhausted, and if it goes on long enough, I get depressed. Here’s how an extravert spouse can help:

  • Give your introvert alone time to recharge without making him or her feel guilty about it.
  • Don’t take your introvert’s need for alone time as a rejection of you or anyone else. It has nothing to do with you.
  • Living in an extraverted culture can make introverts feel like they are crazy or there’s something wrong with them. Remind them that is not the case and they are fine as they are.

Related: What Kind of Alone Time You Need As An Introvert

At the same time, my husband has energy needs too. An afternoon spent quietly reading a book gives me the warm fuzzies, while making him fall asleep from boredom. Just like I need quiet time, he needs a higher level of activity and more human interaction to feel his best. Here’s how an introvert spouse can help:

  • Participate in as many activities as you can without compromising your need for alone time.
  • Encourage your extravert to go to social engagements without you if you are not able to go.
  • Don’t make your extravert feel guilty for doing things without you.

3. Make Sure Each Person Gets The Kind Of Socializing They Like

It would be easy to label introverts as anti-social, but few introverts are total hermits.  Extraverts and introverts just tend to prefer different kinds of socializing when it comes to both the number of relationships and the style of conversation:

  • Extraverts typically have a large number of friends and acquaintances, while introverts do well with a few.
  • Extraverts are into fast-paced group discussions, while introverts usually prefer deeper conversation one-on-one.

My husband loves meeting new people and party-banter. He has no problem jumping from person to person and from one topic to another. Although he has a couple of closer friends, he also likes maintaining a giant (in my eyes!) group of acquaintances.

I like focusing on one person at a time and exploring topics in-depth. I would much rather sit on the couch at home and have a two-hour heart-to-heart with a close friend than spend those same hours chit-chatting with 15 different new people at a party. I’m actually very interested in people, but if I can tell that a relationship isn’t going to move beyond small talk and the acquaintance-level, it starts feeling a little time-wastey to me. I want relationships that get real and let it all hang out. All I need to be happy is one or two very close relationships.

The key to making a marriage like this work is accepting that we are different (again!) and figuring out how both people can get the kind of socializing they need and like.  Here are a few things to ponder:

  • There is no real good reason the extravert can’t go to the chit-chatting events by him or her extraverted self. My husband used to feel weird doing this because of the expectation that married couples do everything together. And I may have felt an occasional bang of jealousy over him having fun without me. But somewhere along the way we just decided to get over this kind of thinking and do what’s best for both of us.
  • Remember that most introverts don’t want to sit at home by themselves ALL the time. Introverts just prefer smaller groups and more in-depth conversation. The danger of following the advice of the bullet above is that the extravert is out chit-chatting so much that the introvert starts getting lonely. So be sure to schedule lots of couple time as well for the introvert craving a deep connection.
  • The type of conversation you like doesn’t just depend on degree of introversion or extraversion.  Other personality traits play a role as well. As an INFJ, I’m not only an introvert but an intuitive feeling introvert. This combo of traits makes my yearning for the deep discussions about feelings totally insatiable. I could do it all day every day. My ISTJ mother, on the other hand, a sensing thinking introvert is going to sit down for a heart-to-heart about feelings the same day Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump decide to become besties and start hanging out. (Click here to learn about your other personality traits.)

4. Learn Each Other’s Languages

Yeah, I’ll be the annoying marriage-know-it-all who says it’s all about compromise and meeting in the middle. But seriously, you love this person, so how about learning a little bit about the other side’s communication style and trying it out every once in a while?

Extraverts and introverts process information differently. Extraverts often think out loud, while introverts usually process things internally before speaking. My husband likes to make sense of the world by interacting with it. I prefer to make sense of things by analyzing in my head.

How to speak Introvertese

  • Pause in conversation to allow time for your introvert to participate. An introvert needs time to think and process what you just said. The pausing does not mean that the introvert:
    -doesn’t have anything to say
    -doesn’t want to share what’s on his/her mind
    -is trying to hide something
    -is ignoring you
    -agrees or disagrees with you
    Sometimes an introvert just needs a brief pause, but sometimes they may not have the answer until several hours or even days later. I’m famous for “you know how two weeks ago you said…” 🙂
  • Don’t finish your introvert’s sentences or interrupt them.
  • Show interest. Ask about your introvert’s feelings and opinions.
  • Stay on one topic until it has been thoroughly discussed instead of jumping from one topic to another.
  • Introverts are often more private than extraverts. Don’t share information about your introvert with others without the introvert’s permission.

How to speak Extravertese

  • Listen to your extravert talk. Show interest and enthusiasm to make them feel heard.
  • Extraverts think out loud. Allow them to jump from one topic to another and not always reach a conclusion.
  • If you need time to think, let the extravert know and promise to get back to them instead of just leaving them hanging.
  • Compliment your extravert a lot and let them know why you appreciate them
  • Learn to share with your extravert even if it’s hard for you.

5. Harness Each Person’s Decision Making Power

You know that bit above about introverts needing to process and analyze things in their heads? And how extraverts think out loud? This can make it a little tricky to make decisions together.  You see, if the extravert keeps thinking out loud non-stop, the introvert never gets to think at all. 🙂

Here are two common scenarios and how to handle each:

  • MAKING BIG DECISIONS TOGETHER – Let’s say my husband and I are trying to decide whether to pack our bags and move to Timbuktu. If we simply have a conversation about it and make a decision at the end of that conversation, I never had an opportunity to really consider all the points he brought up, because I need time to mull things over in private. In order for me to make good decisions, I need to go hide somewhere and think about it by myself without any distractions. And yes, this may require several rounds of conversation + me going away to think about it. But it’s worth it, so we don’t accidentally end up moving to Timbuktu. 🙂 This may sound a little silly, but sometimes we actually go back and forth via texting because it’s easier for me to think that way.
  • RESPONDING TO INVITATIONS AND REQUESTS – Let’s say we are at a party and someone invites us to another party the following weekend. Because in addition to being an introvert, I’m also a feeler people-pleaser, my auto-response is to say Yes! to any request that comes up. But when I go away and have some time to THINK about it, I often end up regretting committing to something I actually don’t want to do. So I’ve trained myself (and my husband) to switch the auto-response to “let me check my calendar and get back to you,” so I can think about it in private before committing.

6. Divide Responsibilities Based on Personality

Being married to your opposite actually has some benefits too. Like he doesn’t mind doing some of the stuff that you can’t stand and vice versa. Take full advantage of this and divide family and household responsibilities based on your personality differences. Here are just a few examples of how we have divided tasks at our house:

Extravert tasks

  • grocery shopping
  • running errands
  • making phone calls
  • taking kids to hobbies and birthday parties

Introvert tasks

  • managing finances
  • planning and scheduling
  • cooking and cleaning

7. Change the Dynamic

Early in my marriage, my husband and I kept falling victim to the same dynamic over and over again.  He kept pushing for me to be more social in the way he likes to be social. The more he would push, the more I would feel guilty and stressed and want to retreat.

Changing this dynamic has helped. The less pressure I feel to act in conflict with my true character and the more freedom I have to take quiet breaks when I need them, the more relaxed I will feel and the more likely I will be to actually WANT to be social.

Are you an introvert married to an extravert or vice versa? What do you struggle with the most? Any tips to add to my list? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. 🙂

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About the author 

Anni

Hi! I'm a life coach, a Certified MBTI® Practitioner, and a mentor for stressed out introverts and highly sensitive people. I used to be one myself! My mission is to help you discover your true self and create a life you ACTUALLY like.

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  1. This is such a great post! I’m extremely introverted and my husband is pretty extroverted, so we have disagreements sometimes because he always wants me to go see his (large to me) group of friends with him and I’d usually really rather not, haha! We’ve only been married for about 9 months, so we’re still trying to figure out how to compromise and this post is super helpful! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    1. I’m so glad to hear it was helpful! It does take some compromise from both sides, but it’s such a relief when you get to a point where you are able to stop repeating basically the same argument over and over. 🙂

  2. Thanks for making things clearer. My husband is an E and I am an I. My biggest problem is that his mind and mouth are running full speed, so when I am talking, he interrupts me and says what he is thinking about, whether it is what I was talking about or not. My perception is that he is not listening to me and is only thinking about his thoughts. I feel so hurt and I shut down. He asks me what is wrong but I just can’t say why I am so hurt. I feel he isn’t listening to me and is not even aware of what I am talking about and doesn’t care about me. This brings on several days of hurt and silence. What can I do when he interrupts and why can’t he listen to me?

    1. Do you think he is not aware of how his behavior is impacting you or how he is hurting you? I would try explaining things to him when you are feeling better and not feeling hurt at the moment. If I’m having a hard time talking to my husband about a difficult issue, I sometimes find it easier to show him an article that discusses the issue I’m having or even sending him a text message or an email.

  3. I can’t thank you enough for this article. I am extremely outgoing but people don’t understand that once I’ve had a lot of social interaction I can take days to recover and just want quiet time. It’s not that I don’t want to be around my fiancé… I just want peace and quiet/tv time/ relaxation. Your article speaks t me so much!

    1. Hi Valentina! I’m glad to hear you could relate to the article. It’s tough when people don’t understand, isn’t it? I’m the same way – I can do the outgoing thing for quite a while, but then it’ll take me twice the time to recover from it. 🙂

      1. I am trying to get him to understand by sending him articles (like this one) because I feel so guilty when he suggests going out and all I want to do is stay home. Sometimes just the idea of going out gives me anxiety and stresses me out. I do my best to create a balance… bc as much as I am an I he is an E and needs that “date night” out. I hate how that sounds… I’m lucky that he wants to take me out and spoil me! Ugh it’s not easy being an introvert!!! Lol

        1. It took a lot of reading articles and explaining and discussion for my husband and me to come to an understanding about this. Definitely not easy! 🙂

  4. As an extrovert dating an introvert. I’d say I’m lucky my introvert is so more open than your article describes. Your article suggests that you’re very closed off and your husband seems to be doing all the compromising. It’s all subject to your feelings and your needs. When do you do what he likes? Never it would seem. That’s really mean. My boyfriend and I actually compromise, He makes the effort to come out with me, even when he doesn’t particularly want to, and I’ll set aside time to do things he wants too, even if I’d rather be going out. You seem to ask your husband to do things on his own alot because you don’t want to alot. And you’ll only ever do things when you want to. What about what he wants? You’re mean to him. He must love you alot to put up with you and for you to get your way all the time. That’s him being awesome. When are you nice to him then? You’ve given a huge list to extroverts to follow, what about a list you introverts could do with so that you’re not so dismissive of us extroverts feelings and needs. We’re super understanding. And so is my gorgeous introvert. You on the other hand are really not. You’re harsh on your extrovert. There’s only so much you can put down to personality. Sometimes you’re just mean and used to getting your own way all the time.

  5. I havé to agree with Freya! I’m the extra vert but it feels like we just have to put up with the introvert’s needs instead of them also realising we need “understanding” too. I socialise mainly alone, I understand that he needs alone time but the alone time’s never enough. It’s Sunday 9pm and I haven’t seen him since 3pm and that was two minutes. Yesterday I was ill and Friday too so that’s essentially since 4pm Friday alone. I wonder why hw wanted to get narried, if alone time is so overwhelmingly precious. What about my need to see someone, or felt wanted or interested in? My introvert doesn’t like to sit and read or reflect, just play the computer . I’d be happy to spend time quietly together reading but no, he’ll fall asleep. So if I do want to spend time together the only option is watching something together which isn’t particularly involved. At least with reading you can stop, say smthg and start again. No matter how much time I give; he always needs more.

  6. This article is amazing!!

    Reading this article made my jaw just drop few times on how really accurate it is. I am an extroverted man and my wife is an introvert, and we have been together for 16 years and married 7 of them. For instance the “Extravert / Introvert tasks”. We somehow ended up with the exactly the same list, over time, even though we really never talked about dividing these tasks like that. Just after years of somehow nudging ourselves into these tasks by necessary routine, and I really like my tasks (grocery shopping, the order-in-caos, joking around with random strangers, running into someone I know etc. are all things that sound fun to me).

    Same with the social interactions, I do many random activities with acquaintances that I met decades ago and always have some new home-project or new hobby to start or do. My wife likes reading books and watching drama shows on TV, and that list is all she really needs. We didn’t start like that in the beginning, we tried so much to participate in each others “worlds” and hobbies because we too felt like “that is what couples do”. But, over time, we found some balance that works for the both of us, because too much “compromise” makes us both unhappy. It’s the perfect amount of “compromise” that does the trick, and finding that sweet spot is the source of a really good Ex/In marriage.

    We don’t do all social activities together, we don’t have the same hobbies, we don’t have the same taste in music/films/books/sports. We don’t necessarily like the same people around us (neighbors, family members etc.). But we really do love each other, we really like each others company, and we do almost always agree on everything that really matters (how to raise children, how to prioritize finances etc.).

    … and, my wife sent me this article just before she went to bed. So, I don’t know if she is trying to tell me something or that I might also like to read it for fun. Nevertheless, I liked it and I agree with everything in it 😀

    1. Thank you so much for commenting and sharing your experience! I liked what you said about the perfect amount of compromise doing the trick. That’s a really good way to put it. It’s really all about finding the sweet spot where you are compromising when it truly matters but not so much that you end up giving up too much of yourself and just resenting the other person.

      1. Yes exactly!

        The word “compromise” can sound a bit negative though. It sounds like giving something up unwillingly to make peace. To us it means a small thing or gesture that you -want- to do for the other person because you know it will make them happy or be more comfortable. Not because you feel like you have to, or feel obligated to.

        I could give two examples: I really like heavy metal music where my wife is more into relaxing easy going music. So, when both Iron Maiden and Metallica came to town she asked to go with me and my single male friends, even though she knew no songs at all and it would be filled with sweaty metal fans. Another example is when my work invited every employee and their partner to a huge dinner at a hotel with some “evening games”. I knew she would be stressed out about it, so I cancelled that work dinner and reserved a table in a quiet and cosy restaurant for just the two of us instead.

        She has also tough me so much about “the hidden message” in interactions with people, what was “meant” but not said. When people are trying to say “no” to something so politely that I do not even register it. I only knew how to interact with other extroverts when we met. Now, when one of our children is an introvert I can approach that child with the same care and understanding that I have learned by interacting with my wife. She has made me a better husband, better father and better friend to others that are not like me.

        Extroverts can learn so much from introverts that we would else never even given a second thought, and help us to become even better at socializing and interacting with people with more care, sensitivity and understanding.

        1. Those are great examples! It’s kind of what I was getting at with #7 and changing the dynamic. When you are able to take care of your own needs and when you feel accepted for who you are, you will WANT to do things for the other person and it won’t feel like a sacrifice anymore.

  7. Thank you Anni for your articles and to all those who commented. I too am INFJ whilst my husband is an extrovert, and only now after reading your articles do I understand a bit more about why I feel a certain way and I don’t need to feel so bad/guilty about it. Self-awareness is so important to improving one’s feeling about oneself.

    1. Hi Josephine, thank you for reading and commenting! 🙂 I couldn’t agree more about self awareness. It’s kind of the basis for everything else in your life.

  8. I am an INTP female…shy and introverted. My husband is the ESFJ extrovert who never meets a stranger. The struggle has been real our 19 years of marriage. I seriously have thought that something was wrong with me, so does he. He wants to “fix” me so that I’m normal. I try my best to be normal and suck it up, but sometimes I just want to hide in a cave. I stay exhausted from the “introvert hangover” because of all of the social things that we go to. So glad to see that someone else has fought this battle. Any advice regarding this type of relationship is very helpful. We need all the help we can get.

    1. Hi Breslyn,

      Thank you for sharing your experience! One advantage of being married to an ESFJ is that they tend to be capable of empathy and seeing things from another person’s point of you. My husband used to want to “fix” me too. He genuinely thought that he was helping. However, once I got him to learn about and understand introversion and see that I’m just a different version of normal, he has become my biggest cheerleader and supporter. Like I said in the article, increased awareness has really been a huge help. I hope you and your husband figure out how to make things work too. I SO recognize the exhaustion that you are talking about!

  9. Wow.. A post I can completely relate to! My spouse is an extravert while I’m the opposite. It is definitely the most challenging thing about our relationship and it complicates more things than you would guess. I love taking notes and challenging myself to be better so I believe these tips will make a great impact on my relationship.

    Thank you so much!!!

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