Nov 24, 2015

Journal of a Miss to Mrs // An Introvert In Love



“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” (C.S. Lewis)

I am so excited to get back to a little series that has grown dear to my heart, Journal of a Miss to Mrs (see previous posts here). I have been learning so much in the season of our engagement, but it definitely does not stop there. Last time I wrote one of the journals, I was a mere fifteen days away from becoming a Mrs. and now I have been a Mrs. for a bit over one month. I am filled with so much gratitude and humility over God's blessing of marriage. This has been a very sweet month (maybe that's why they call it a honeymoon?) as I have been transitioning into this new role as wife. I am especially thankful that I am not working right now, so that I could ease into all the new changes (wife, new state, being away from family and friends in Oregon, etc). It has been a great launching pad for creativity and pursuing my passions, mostly surrounding this little space at Beautiful Hope Blog. 

A single friend recently asked me a question that I thought was awesome. Her question was how I, as an introvert, can still find quiet or "introvert time" now that I am married. She and I are both introverts. We typically need time away from people to recharge, whether that is by reading a book, taking a walk, or any other quiet space where the mind can rest and our batteries can recharge. Let me clarify, though, this does not always mean I have to be completely alone, but it means that it is likely not a great time to engage in emotionally-heavy conversations or be asked a lot of questions because my mind has to take a time out and reboot.  I remember being worried about this when I was single. What would I do if I needed quiet time as a wife or as a mom? Did that even exist? Would it be selfish of me to read a book or go for a walk on my own to quiet my heart after a long, hard day? 

The answer to this question looks different for everyone, so what works for me may not be practical or useful for others. I do not pretend to hold the key to introvert relationships, but I have found some things that have helped for me and Greg.

As a single, I did not have too much trouble getting quiet time after a stressful day at work. I would light a sweet-smelling candle, play some classical music on a pandora, pour myself a cup of tea, and dive into a good book. Other times I would scrapbook, write hand-written notes, or take a refreshing jog to blow off steam. Spending time journaling prayers while reading a Psalm was also a favorite way to relax and get recharged when I was wiped out and emotionally exhausted.  I wondered if I would have to let go of these sweet moments when I would be dating and one day married. My quiet times were relaxing, but also peace-giving. When I chose to read a book focused on truths from the Bible rather than a bestselling novel, then I would notice my restless heart slowing down and finding time to soak up the stillness. Not to say a novel is bad, but I felt especially rested after studying the Bible or reading a book that reminded me of God's faithfulness and love for me. Being still and pausing at the end of a fast-paced day not only helped my introvert personality type, but even more, refreshed my soul and refocused it to look to God rather than my stressful day. 


Not everyone needs ample quiet time, but people who identify themselves as being introverted typically need recurrent quiet time to recharge. This does not mean they're antisocial, though! We all need community, including us introverts. But quiet time to us introverts is a bit like plugging your iPhone into the charger after draining its power. We are much happier and ready for deep conversations and social events after much-needed introvert time. 

While dating (and later, engaged), Greg and I were long-distance, and we visited each other about every 5-8 weeks (I was in the Pacific NW, he in Texas). Due to my long hours at the pediatric clinic I was working at as a pediatric nurse practitioner,  plus the two hour time difference, it was hard to get good quality time through FaceTime or phone calls. I was dealing with a lot of stress and anxiety at the time too, which usually is a red flag that  I need more quiet time to recharge and process what's going on. Greg and I learned A LOT about communicating during the dating season and I learned that it's ok to tell him I need a quiet evening on my own without any electronics (including the laptop for FaceTime). Sometimes the quiet introvert evening lasted a few hours and Greg and I wouldn't have time to FaceTime, so we'd just text. Other times, I'd let him know I wanted an hour or so, then we'd get on FaceTime afterwards and I'd feel really refreshed and ready for conversation. 

I am incredibly thankful for Greg's desire to understand my personality and my need to recharge after long days at the clinic. I was coming home emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausted from working with patients and families, and desperately needed time to unwind. Greg and I learned how to fit it in, without him feeling like I do not want to talk to him. Oftentimes, I would also use my long commute to listen to audiobooks or quiet music, which helped me relax by the time I got home and be ready for engaging in quality time with Greg through FaceTime.  It looked different all the time and we just kept communicating through it all. 


 As an introvert, I need quiet time, but when I am anxious and really stressed, I also tend to isolate myself and detach from people I love because I feel like I can't really process all that is going on so I would rather avoid it. I would sometimes use my introvert personality as an excuse to avoid important things with Greg. "I just reeeeallly need a quiet night" could honestly be just that, but it could also be one of my excuses to avoid hard conversations and that was hard for Greg to distinguish. So, again, I go back to communication,  a key to any relationship! I learned to be more honest about my emotions and slowly learned to talk through my anxiety instead of detaching or avoiding. Eventually, I could distinguish between whether I truly needed quiet time vs. when I was trying to avoid or detach from communicating and used my introvert personality as an excuse. I soon saw that having routine quiet time was a way of preventing me from getting very anxious or stressed. It was a healthy coping mechanism to rest my mind and heart after being bombarded all day with stressful situations. I was learning that the more honest I was about my emotions with Greg, the better I was able to communicate with him and he would lovingly help in a variety of ways. We'd even have "introvert dates" on FaceTime, where we'd be both reading while on FaceTime. It may sound boring, but I found it sweet the few times we did it because I saw it as a way of still connecting with Greg while still having some reading time to calm down after a tough work day. And we'd take breaks from reading and chat for a bit about fun things, which was also relaxing.  


In this first month of marriage, I am not working, so I have plenty of quiet time while Greg is gone at work. I get all my cleaning, cooking, blogging, and job-hunting  done while he is gone, so that by the time he is home, we can have quality time together over a good meal, chat about our days, and just enjoy each other.  We typically have some quiet time together most nights of the week, which is pure bliss. We do our Bible studies, reading, and journaling side by side on the couch quietly, but will start a short conversation when we read something great and want to share our thoughts. Talking is not off-limits during those times, and we are still connecting by sharing quiet time, so I still consider it "introvert" time together. I feel really connected to Greg during these times even though we are not having long, soul-searching conversations.  We have tea dates once in a while at a local cafe and will have a mix of reading time with great one-on-one conversations. So in this way, we include quiet time together as introvert time. It does not have to always be alone introvert time, though sometimes that is needed as well. Greg has been so patient and loving, especially on days I feel drained of energy. One way he helps me is by encouraging me to take quiet time to write for the blog, which he knows refreshes my soul when I write something that I am passionate about. 


I am sure things will change once I am working or we have kids, and that is fine. We are constantly learning how we can communicate our needs, which allows us to grow deeper in our love, and to better understand and respect each other.


Here are some blog posts  and articles from various writers about loving introverts and being loved as an introvert since there are so many great ways to approach this subject:


7 Ways To Love An Introvert

13 Mindful Ways To Make An Introvert Feel Loved
Dating An Introvert Guide (4 parts)

4 comments:

  1. This is such a good post. Thankfully both my husband and I enjoy having quiet downtime together and understand our personalities enough to know when we need to just relax. As the years pass in your marriage you will continue to learn more and more about each other, which is exciting. Great read today!

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    1. That is awesome, Cara! That is really encouraging too! I feel like we are constantly learning things about each other and I love that!

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  2. So glad you turned this conversation into a blog post. Girl, you have sooo much wisdom, encouragement, and love to pass on and I'm so glad you shared your heart with me and everyone else! :)

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Elle Alice