He's Social, She's Not

Q: I have been married for 10 years (I'm 40), and our marriage is hitting an all-time low. When I first got to know my wife, I thought the only difference between us was that she is an indoor person and I am an outdoor person. But little by little, I realized she is also anti-social and likes to sleep a lot, eat a lot and not do much of anything. She has no friends and makes no effort. A friend told me that my wife has all the symptoms of an introvert. Never having never of that before, I researched it on the internet and found out it is a well known condition. What do you recommend we do? We have no friends, we don't go out, and it's getting very difficult, especially since I'm the complete opposite. Can this condition be treated through some type of behavioral therapy or medication to repair the chemical unbalance? -- Ed

Dr. Susan: Whoa, Ed, being introverted is not a medical condition. It's more of a personality trait, a preference for how you spend your time. But, just in case, let me suggest you ask your wife to get a thorough medical check-up. People who don't do much besides eat and sleep are sometimes suffering from depression, so that her normal level of introversion might be even more exaggerated than usual. That said, it's possible for an introvert and an extrovert to get along well and enjoy a happy marriage. If you're so social, why don't you have any friends? Why do you feel your wife has to join you in order to get out and do things? Is she truly anti-social or is she just shy or lacking in social skills? Does she refuse to go out with you to quiet events, such as on picnics or walks or to museums, or is she merely resistant to cocktail party chatter and large gatherings? It might be helpful for you two to discuss all this without defensiveness or accusation. Most importantly, you need to know -- and let her know you know -- that the way she is is not sick or abnormal, just different from the way you are. Surely you can come up with some activities the two of you like to do together, while allowing her time to be alone as you seek out more interaction with the world.

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