Thursday, July 29th, 2021

R Shopper Columns


For the last two months we have been exploring the first stage of marriage/relationships. In this article we will be looking at the gifts we bring to our marriage/relationships.

Have you ever 'spilled your guts' and then have your partner not say anything? No doubt you feel that your partner is not listening or is not interested in what you say. The Myers Briggs Personality Indicator has given us some insight into this communication dynamic. 

One of the insights is that we are usually attracted to our opposite strength. The Extravert is usually attracted to the Introvert, the Sensate is attracted to the Intuitive person; the Thinker attracted to the Feeler, while the Judging attracts to the Perspective. In this article, we only have time to explore the Extravert and Introvert factors. Since many of us are attracted to the opposite strength, we will soon discover that they do not process or share the way we do. This can create communication problems. 


The qualities we are attracted to in our partner are the very things that get on our nerves! 'I like it that he is a free spirit but why can't he ever plan ahead.' 'I like it that she is so well organized but why can't she just go with the flow - loosen up?'

Let's take a brief look at the Extravert and Introvert. If we are Extroverted, we are usually the people who process issues on the outside. People know what we are thinking and we share things with others that drive the Introvert crazy: 'Why did you tell the lady in the grocery line that? It is none of her business.' If we need to process something, we process it with others. We are great on a blind date because the other person doesn't have to worry about the conversation. If there is a lull in the conversation, we think it is our job to fill in the silent places. Since we give a lot of feedback, we expect that from others. We get energy from others and don't mind talking about trivial stuff.

If we are Introverted, we are people who process things within. We don't bounce our problems off other people. After we process them, we share our decisions or conclusions. We are often uncomfortable going to parties and talking about nickel/dime stuff. We would like for the conversation to have a point. Being with a bunch of people is draining.

We feel more energized in solitude or one on one. Often in an argument, we feel at a disadvantage with the Extravert. The Extravert is quicker and sometimes overwhelms us with so much information. Since it takes us longer to process within, we don't usually give an immediate answer. Because we don't, the Extravert thinks we are not listening or are not interested in what they have just shared. The truth is that we are interested but since we process in a slower way, we don't give an immediate answer. It can be frustrating for both partners.

One of the suggestions I make to couples in this situation is for the Introvert to say to the Extravert: 'I am interested in what you are sharing but right now, I'm not sure what I think or feel. Give me some time to process it because you know it takes me a while to do it and I will get back to you.' This helps the Extravert - especially if the Introvert does get back to the Extravert!


A real part of any relationship is to discover the communication style of the other person and allow that person his/her uniqueness. Don't try to remake the other person. Value his/her uniqueness and see it as a gift to your marriage.

Dr. William E. Austin is a licensed psychotherapist and holds a Doctor of Divinity degree. He is a therapist with Tidewater Pastoral Counseling Services . He is well known for his warmth and sense of humor. His book, Creating Our Safe Place - Articles on Healthy Relationships, can be purchased through

Tidewater Pastoral Counseling: 623-2700