When Your Spouse Is the Silent Type

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By Mike & Trisha Fox, CP Guest Contributor
September 6, 2011|8:57 am

They say that opposites attract – and that's true. However, sometimes opposites can clash, even in our most spiritual state.

Depth and Christian activities do not dictate our personality! It is vital to realize that an enormous amount of our marital and relational experiences really do not depend on our spirituality, but on our learning of our partner and how best to love them.

Understanding our spouse

This alone is worth the length of a book all in itself, but let's shed a little light on how we can best understand, encourage and love our spouse if they are naturally the "quiet type."

It was once said by Dr. John Gray, author of Men are from Mars; Women are from Venus, "When men and women are able to respect and accept their differences then love has a chance to blossom.”

In understanding our spouse, whether they are introverted or extroverted, soft spoken or outspoken, it is important to realize that the more you learn about your partner, the more enriched your marriage and relationship will be!

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Countless couples face constant frustration simply because they fail to comprehend that their spouse is not them; they're different and that's exactly how God made them.

We cannot change our spouse, but it is not only our responsibility, but our privilege to learn and love them the way they need to be loved and cherished.

God really did make us different

We first need to fully understand and accept that we are all made different, consisting of varying character and personality traits, along with the baggage or mileage of our past, which inevitably shapes who we are and how we think, regardless of where we're at spiritually.

In other words, God does not change who we are, but uses and blesses who we are for His glory, and if we are married, to bless, encourage, complement and connect with our spouse to make the marriage complete.

Many who are dealing with a spouse who is either opposite, or in this article's case, introverted, get very frustrated in what appears to be the lack of direct openness and motivation to work through things.

In a Harvard study of several hundred preschoolers, researchers discovered an interesting phenomenon. As they taped the children’s playground conversation, they realized that all the sounds coming from little girls’ mouths were recognizable words. However, only 60 percent of the sounds coming from little boys were recognizable.

The other 40 percent were yells and sound effects like "Vrrrooooom!" "Aaaaagh!" "Toot toot!" This difference persists into adulthood.

Communication experts say that the average woman speaks over 25,000 words a day while the average man speaks only a little over 10,000. What does this mean for our understanding of marriage and relationships?

On average, the wife may need 45 minutes to an hour each day in meaningful conversation with her husband to feel close and reconnected. Yet for husbands, the average is only 15-25 minutes, possibly only a few times per week!

The needs are different; the expression of communication is different and our character and makeup of who we are is different as well.

Force it open, it will break

Out of sheer frustration, many spouses try to "pry" open their spouse and demand and force their spouse to deal instantly with issues that are at hand.

Realize that in most cases, yes those issues are real, they are important and they do need to be addressed. But there has to be a loving middle ground that both the extroverted and introverted can comfortably deal with in their own way.

However, we wholeheartedly agree that no matter how or when, there are just some issues that must be dealt with ASAP to avoid possible marital disaster.

Know thyself and thy spouse

Learn the personality traits of our spouse and yourself.

“Only those who respect the personality of others can be of real use to them” – Albert Schweitzer

It is helpful to better understand our own personality, and gather some hints as to the personality of others. This, in turn, helps us not only to be better ministers and people, but better witnesses to those outside the gates of the church realm, and better at loving our spouse because we understand their personality.

If you can understand yourself and others, you can more effectively minister and love. This includes your spouse!

Here is a brief, yet detailed summary of the General Personalities of people:

Originally, there has been FIVE major Personality Styles that we can fit in, although as with anything, there are many variations and exceptions to every rule. The following is just your base.

1. Extroverted
 a. Outgoing, open and easy to talk to, spontaneous.
2. Introverted
 a. Observatory, careful, watchful, not spontaneous, planning
3. Analytical
 a. Calculating scenarios, logical, reasoning.
4. Driver
 a. Plan, first to lead, unafraid to fail, successful
5. Amiable
 a. Friendly, caring, compassionate, trustworthy

Imagine if you have an Extroverted-Driver (E.D.) and an Introverted-Amiable (I.A.) in the same room discussing deep, emotional, important issues. What do you think the outcome will be? In the most likely case scenario, the Extroverted-Driver will eventually get fueled up emotionally about what they believe, and the Introverted-Amiable will become more and more reclusive. The E.D becomes increasingly dominating, and overbearing, driving loudly their point to where the I.A. will eventually stop talking all together.

A few tips for the frustrated spouse on how to communicate to their soft-spoken partner.

1. When speaking to your spouse, watch your pitch and loudness. The pitch and loudness presents to your spouse that you are becoming irritated, frustrated not with the problem… but with them! This behavior actually easily translates to the soft-spoken spouse a flat out disproval of "them," and in essence is screaming in their face on how unhappy you are with them, your marriage and an overall displeasure of them as your spouse.
2. Watch out for blaming or accusing statements. Pointing your finger or verbally blaming your partner only elevates any type of defensiveness in your partner. This is counter-productive.
3. Draw them out with kindness. Instead of allowing anger to be your motivating factor of discussing things, you need to use soft love and kindness to help them "trust" that you are not out to hurt them or tear them apart.

Most cases of introversion are really people who are in defense mode trying to protect themselves from either looking silly, feeling stupid, being hurt by others and basically keeping themselves from being vulnerable to others.

If you cannot control your temper, anger or intensity in your heated discussions, you need help.

Conclusion

Christians need to scrap the unbiblical idea that counseling is not biblical. This is one of the age old traditional clichés that do not hold water in the light of Scripture. How can we forget that Jesus Christ himself is called "Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father" (Is. 9:6). Most people don't even think twice about the word "counselor."

If your marriage is heading in a direction that consists of angry, violent or unfruitful discussions, it is indeed heading in the wrong direction… period. Whether you are praying 24 hours in a day, fasting 7 days per week, some things don't come by spiritual means. They come by you actually physically doing something about your marriage.

Whether it's marriage counseling, marriage coaching, your spiritual leaders or a trusted, unbiased person, it is imperative that assistance be incorporated into that relationship.

We must get to a place in our Christian walk, that we learn how to “build up” other’s strengths, instead of tearing down our differences. “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” Philippians 2:3 –KJV)

Mike and Trisha Fox are Christian marriage coaches and authors of Marriage For Today: A Practical Guide for Couples. To find out more visit: http://www.marriagefortoday.com/
 

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