Reader Extrovert Much? writes,
My question for you involves the different ways my husband and I prioritize time with family.
For some background, I was raised by a single mom. I have one sister and we spent every single weekend visiting members of our extended family, as well as very heavily participating in the care of my aging grandparents until their passing. The three of us in our household were very close.
My husband is one of 4 children, and grew up in a tiny house, sharing a room with siblings. My takeaway from his stories is that he absolutely could not wait to get out. Though they all get along pretty well these days, there was a lot of conflict. Neither of his parents were close with their parents, so extended family was only seen on holidays.
I am sure it's easy to see where this is going. I absolutely love seeing our families. Any chance we have to get together, I'm in. We have a 4 year old son and this sense of belonging to something bigger than himself is important to me. I also think I gained a lot from caring for the older members of my family and want that for him.
My husband absolutely could not care less. If we go to something, he is watching the clock the whole time hoping it will end soon. His quota for too much time with our families is very easily met. Or possibly sits at zero. And I should say, he loves them! We all get along pretty well and I don't think there are many issues with personalities. He is just absolutely bored out of his mind by the whole thing. I know how much he values my son and I, but I feel like time with our extended families falls somewhere around 1000 on his list of priorities.
These conflicts reach a breaking point when family get-togethers come up and I can't wait to go and he says "ugh, pass." It feels especially personal when it's my family he passes on, of course. We seem to be wired differently in this way, and I am looking for some insights on empathy here, which I think you're so great at. Generally speaking, I end up going alone (taking our son with me) because I don't want the fact that daddy prefers Netflix to family to impact him.
I feel like the underlying answer probably involves me wanting my husband to feel differently about this and there pretty much being no way I can change that. Would love your candid thoughts.
OMG I totally understand... your husband. Well, I understand you too, but I'm wired more like him. As I discuss here, about two sisters-in-law in the same situation, you just can't force people to want to hang out with each other. Your husband sounds like an introvert (read this book that everyone loves) and you are an extrovert, and that's the extent of it. He may also be a Highly Sensitive Person, so all the loud talking and laughing and people up in each other's business like the left and center monkeys above makes him want to go out of his mind.
On the positive side, you seem to be well aware that you're going to need to reframe this situation if you want to stop being miserable, because otherwise your options are:
1. Be miserable forever
2. Leave him because he doesn't like hanging out with your family
3. Force him to attend and watch him crawl out of his skin with boredom and stress
4. Reward him with sex for every event he attends
Ask what he thinks of #4 and if it's a no go, then you're back to reframing the situation, like so:
"My husband is a generally great husband and father. He just doesn't like small talk and hanging around big groups of people. He loves his family and mine and gets along with them. He isn't a difficult guy. He also is ________ and _______ and _________ (insert unique positive behaviors and qualities here). So, from now on I won't even ask him to join me at family events except maybe Thanksgiving and Christmas. I will fully accept that he is an introvert and not get offended anymore, because we probably work better anyway with him being an introvert, because if we were both like me, we'd never hang out with each other, we'd just socialize in large groups all the damn time."
Also, read The Highly Sensitive Person in Love: Understanding and Managing Relationships When the World Overwhelms You to understand more about Highly Sensitive Person/not Highly Sensitive Person couple dynamics.
Good luck, and till we meet again, I remain, The Blogapist Who Says, Also, You'll Enjoy The Family Stuff a Lot More When He's Not Sulking.