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Sick Day in the Introvert/Extrovert Marital Dynamic

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I wanted to title this post “Introverts are Mean to Sick People.”
I acknowledge, however, that such a potentially inflammatory title may owe more to my currently fevered, coughing and sleepless state than it does to pesky reality. So instead I offer you a peek into the marital dynamic of a marriage between an extrovert and an introvert, both on the far ends of their respective spectrum.

When my introverted husband is sick, he goes to bed. He leaves the family, turns his phone off, quietly slips away, and lies down. He is sick and he needs sleep to heal. Logical. There are no consultations necessary, or issues to negotiate, there are only pajamas to don, and all of the blankets in the house to gather and pile on top of himself for as long as he deems necessary.

sleeping introvert

Shh….the introvert is healing……
Image Credit: Seriously? Clearly so awful it’s mine.

When I’m sick, it’s a bit more complicated. First I push on, cause I’m not a giant weenie a mom and I’ve got stuff to do, small people to feed, homework with which to assist, milk to buy, etc. Plus, I’m probably not that sick. So I forge ahead, and whine, and complain. I also helpfully keep others updated on my symptoms with a running commentary.

Going to bed would require being alone. That’s not healing, that’s torture, and is only considered in dire emergencies.

When I'm sick, I want people around me, all the people!

When I’m sick, I want people around me, all the people!

As an extrovert, when I’m sick I want all the people. #allthepeople! I want them in my room or taking turns in my room, quietly if I’m asleep, talking with me if I’m not, petting my hair, bringing me snacks, certainly not leaving me ALONE. I’m sick, don’t send me away, hug me! Then let’s have a long chat. About whatever. Staring deeply into each others eyes, sharing our hopes and fears and dreams, and then sharing that chat with others to get their input, pausing only for the occasional coughing spasm. (If you are feeling nervous, nauseous, or are breaking out in a rash at this point, you might be an introvert….)

Where are all the people? I need the people…….

This behavior leaves the Cute-But-Occasionally-Robotic-Introvert-Husband (as I call him in my more bitter moments) confused.

He concludes I’m faking. Surely if I was really sick, I would go to bed. To sleep. If I am continuing to “help” with dinner from bed, or demand company, or call for hugs, or make excuses to talk, I’m clearly not sick. In which case, I should immediately return to my regularly scheduled activities.

Of course, we’ve each learned a little in twenty plus years of marriage. So even though every logical indicator of my behavior may tell him I’m not sick to his way of thinking, he also pays attention to other potential clues now, and struggles to make them fit his logic puzzle. Being social = not sick, but being social + hacking up large lung bits + a bright feverish glow, that might = sick.

However, if I am SICK, he reasons, I’m not doing it right, and I need to be corrected. So I hear “go to bed, go to sleep, stop talking, go to bed!”

And I can’t imagine what I’ve done to be punished.

Thus, introverts are mean to sick people.

PS – this is all in good fun, as said robot introvert is out right now getting me cough syrup, a movie and Ritz crackers. He’s really pretty awesome.

7 responses »

  1. You crack me up. This is exactly right. For the love of pete, don’t ever leave me alone with my thoughts unless you want to punish me.

    Love, a fellow extrovert

  2. Tara I enjoyed the read, I would give anything to be left alone when I am sick I am an introvert for sure! It is a rare event that any mum actually gets down time when they are sick, because we do soldier on. Heaven is a peaceful dark room with nothing but the sounds of silence to me. Do I get it? Never!

    • I do understand that part. The “overwhelmed mom never gets time to herself” does occasionally overtake the “extrovert who wants all the people!” every once in a while. Of course, it doesn’t last long for me, and then I’m all “hey, where is everyone, why aren’t you hanging out with me?” Thanks for the comment, I wish a significant chunk of peace and quiet for you in the days to come!

  3. Oh Tara, you’re the best. Especially when you’re sick šŸ™‚ And since I knew David long long ago, I can totally imagine the above commentary between you two. I am not allowed to be sick. Simply can’t happen. I’m having a hard time ‘relaxing’ today, my birthday! somehow, dishes still need to be cleaned, dinner prepped, chores done or assigned, etc. Sigh.

  4. Tara,
    Love your writing. So funny. So true. And I can hear it all in my head with your voice (the benefit…or downside of having you as my first real boss). šŸ™‚
    You’ve always had a gift for the writing and the wit. Happy you keep finding ways to get it out there for others to enjoy!


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