We hear of many instances when a couple is made up of an introvert and an extrovert; and navigating who to spend Christmas with is akin to treading a minefield.
You might want to celebrate Christmas at a big bash with friends you’ve known from your primary school days; he wants to stay home and celebrate it over a quiet dinner.
You want to line up parties every night with various groups of relatives, friends and colleagues for 12 days of Christmas; she wants to spend a quiet evening at her favourite restaurant with a couple of close friends.
So, if the coming Christmas season fills you with a sense of trepidation because you anticipate a massive blow-up with your spouse as to where to go and who to celebrate with, here are some tips to help you have a merry and blessed time with your spouse this Christmas.
Understand your own needs
Simply put, if you’re an extrovert, you are energised when you are around people – the more the merrier; and if you’re an introvert, you need time to yourself to recharge after being around people because you tend to feel drained of energy. You’d also much rather have meaningful conversations with one or two people than to make small talk with a myriad people at a social gathering.
Bear in mind that neither personality type is inherently good or bad; they’re just different and what helps is to seek to embrace the differences if you and your spouse differ from each other.
Share your needs with your spouse in an affirming manner. An extrovert might want to share with his introverted spouse his need for companionship with a large variety of people - that being away from other people for too lengthy a period of time might fill him with angst.
Similarly, an introvert might want to share with her extroverted spouse that she needs breaks in between social gatherings to re-energize. An introvert tends to need advanced notice for get-togethers. As such, it would help if an extroverted spouse refrains from springing a surprise gathering on an introverted spouse.
Don’t take it personally
If your extroverted spouse needs to schedule after-parties or social gatherings before or after she has spent time with you, don’t take it to mean that she finds you unfulfilling or a bore. Understand that she is simply built for plenty of social interaction. It is in her DNA to thrive on human interaction – lots of it.
At the same time, if your introverted spouse wants to spend some time home alone, it’s not that he is uninterested in the world you share with your friends and other loved ones, he just needs more time to reflect and recharge alone.
It would greatly help extroverts to also develop the confidence to attend social gatherings independently at times. While introverts ought to work towards being so comfortable in one’s own skin in order to not feel insecure when an extroverted spouse needs time to go off to celebrations with friends.
Compromise in practical ways
Once you have communicated to each other your needs as an introvert or an extrovert, work as a team to come up with plans that help you both truly enjoy this festive season.
If you’re an extrovert, you might want to make the effort to cut down from the twelve parties you’re hoping to attend with your spouse to maybe a few instead. Additionally, you might want to make sure that there are some friends he might feel comfortable enough to hang out with and to meaningfully connect with at the parties.
If you’re an introvert, before you say no to attending any parties with your spouse, find out from her which ones truly matter to her and promise to accompany her to these parties sans a sulky face.
The key to making your personality differences work for you as a married couple is to acknowledge that it is perfectly possible to complement each other despite your personality differences; and there is no better way to show love towards each other this Christmas season than to seek to understand and embrace those differences as a team.
Adapted from Opposites Attract by Focus on the Family (Canada) Association © 2016. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
Discover how to keep your marriage strong, work together as a team and complement one another’s strengths at our Marriage Builders program. Receive personalised coaching from a trained counsellor through honest discussions on various topics on relationships and marriage.