Opposites Attract

April: I am an extrovert. That is more of a recent learning for me. Well, I have always known I LOVE being surrounded by the people in my life. My fondest memories are usually of large family gatherings or get-togethers with friends. So I guess labeling myself as an extrovert, and understanding what that signifies, is newer to me. Being extroverted means I recharge by being with my people. I love for my house to be full of people that I know and love. I come away from a gathering of friends ready to face any challenge! It also means I process those challenges, and life in general, out loud with someone (and that means I can talk A LOT!).

Charles: I have known for a long time that I am an introvert. Many people - even fellow introverts - often think introversion is another word for shyness or withdrawal. However, my experience is quite a bit different. Being an introvert means I get my energy and rest in quiet places. I enjoy time for reflection, reading, and building in my workshop. I also enjoy the company of my friends in small settings. Big parties are fun, but they take energy rather than give it.

April: I married an introvert. I had no idea how much that difference in our personalities was going to affect our marriage. Early in our marriage, these differences were a source of great tension. I didn't understand his need for space and quiet. I didn't understand why he couldn't make decisions quickly or talk things out to their resolution in one sitting. I didn't understand why he wanted to stay home all weekend instead of be out and about doing things together. Then a few years ago, at his suggestion, I read Quiet by Susan Cain. WOW! This book was so enlightening! As it turns out, he was not trying to drive me crazy!! It helped me understand him better, how he thinks, how he processes, how he rests.

Charles: This book was a huge help to me as well. We live in a society that values bold, larger-than-life personalities who take quick action in every situation. It was comforting to be reminded of the value brought by quiet, thoughtful people who take the time to understand. I was also encouraged to give April the space to be social and to process her ideas out loud. It can take conscious attention to let her ideas flow and realize they aren't always asking for solutions. Giving each other the space to process differently has been a big help to our marriage.

April: Our marriage is very different now. We just celebrated our 18th anniversary! I have come to value the differences in us. I value his thoughtful and careful (often agonizingly slow ) decision making. I have come to respect his need for unscheduled time on the weekends. I firmly believe our whole family benefits from that time to just "be" rather than run at the fast pace our society sees as normal. I have learned to communicate in such a way that allows him time to process before expecting an answer. I am now thankful for Charles's introversion and the blessings it brings to our marriage.

Charles: I value April's extroversion as well. She encourages me to participate in social opportunities that I would otherwise miss. When we take time to understand each other, we can challenge each other to grow in areas that don't come naturally to us. We can also give each other the space and respect to be who God created us to be.

Charles and April have been married for 18 years. They continue to discover there is always more to learn about each other.  They enjoy connecting over a game of cards or doing a puzzle. They value the time they spend with their three kids whether it be camping or just hanging out around the house.