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Asked by Last Updated:

How can we fill both our needs when our needs are so different?

My husband is a minimally affectionate extreme introvert.
I am a very physical extrovert.
Recently we had a conversation that caused me to pause and reflect.
These were my take aways that  I have confirmed with him to be true: -He can’t fully relax around me.
  -He needs to decompress after our time together.
  -If he were his authentic self when we were together, he would be more blunt, cold, and distant with me.
-He has never been able to completely relax around me.
Or anyone.
-When we are together he thinks he needs to be “on”.
watching my body cues and listening to my words to hear what he’s “supposed” to do.
  -He always needs to be on guard with me.
  -His ability to connect over my vulnerability is conditional upon his mental load for that day, meaning sometimes I’m too much for him.
-Time with me drains him, while time alone rejuvenates him.
  - His need to decompress after spending time with me will not change.
  -He can’t fully decompress until after I have gone to bed or left the house.
  After talking with him, he feels all of things are “normal” and shouldn’t be a surprise.
Honestly, it doesn’t surprise me that that is his experience.
I’ve known it for a while now.
But hearing him say it out loud still triggered some strong emotions in me.
I started to lose hope when he said he said it would be “a challenge to change 40 years of programming.
”    My experience and what fills my cup is much different from his.
I long to be held.
I want to be with someone that feels comfortable in my presence.
And I want to be comfortable in theirs.
I have an easier time relaxing when the person I am with can relax around me.
I want meaningful conversation.
I want to be able to talk openly about ideas and situations.
More often than not, when I try to share things with him I feel judged for my view of the world.
    We have been married for 16 years.
For 16 years I’ve hoped things would change.
That he would have a desire to come to bed with me occasionally.
Even after sex he still feels the need to go and decompress on his own to end his day.
 I would love to be what he looked forward to ending his day with.
I try to accommodate his need for seclusion.
Sometimes it makes him want to be with me, but most times he still needs an escape afterward.
Bottom line is, I think I feel like I’m too much for him and he feels like he’s not enough for me.
 I don’t know how to get on the same page.
And I don’t know if he wants to.
Right now it feels like we are stuck in a loop where we each feel we are self sacrificing to please the other.
I think this is contributing to false expectations (I did this, now you’ll do this) and resentment.
So my question is, how can we get to a place where both needs are lovingly met? And is it possible to do so when our needs are so different?   

1 Answers

CindyBaker Answered:

Hi! I completely understand where you are coming from and wish to help you by putting things in perspective for you and sounding a plan of action that can empower you with more purposefulness and fulfillment. Happiness is an add-on, though :)   From what I gathered, you and your partner are both at the opposite end of the spectrum with polarized needs. # You crave for more connection. # He feels stifled with too much proximity and wants space.   But here's what works for you! You have been married for 16 years and let's credit you both for the continued effort in making the marriage work. He on his part shows the intent to make it work by watching your body cues and listening to your words to hear what he’s “supposed” to do.   Similarly, you have patiently acknowledged and accommodated his need for space away from you. So far neither of you has shown the inclination to opt-out. So you are in this together for keeps. Congratulations. Now to make it worth the effort for you, you can now start designing your life in a more constructive manner, because luckily for you you don't have a partner who's breathing down your neck.   You have all the time and space to pursue interests that will add value to your life and make it more enriching. Invest your time and energy to attain fitness goals and you will be brimming with confidence at getting that healthy glow and agility back. Not daunting big goals, but small, achievable milestones. Chances are you will be striking connect with people and building lasting friendships with them, fulfilling your need for the human connection.   Reach out to like-minded individuals - friends, family and acquaintances at work or close vicinity to have meaningful, fun and engaging conversations that rejuvenate you. Since you mentioned you are an extrovert, it will come easily to you to endear yourself and in no time, you will be feeling more emotionally satiated. You had been so busy all this while trying to crack the code to marital bliss, I bet you have missed out on so much - A spa retreat, snuggling up with a book and coffee, taking up that short course on skill upgradation - your calling card to the promotion at work or to land up a job in line with your interest and expertize.   Life has so much to offer. Choose happiness and happiness will choose you. Don't miss out on the bounty of things that life has to offer to you. You need to stop pinning all your hopes on your partner to make you feel complete. Once you have so much going on in your own headspace and life, you will notice a conspicuous change in your own approach towards him. He will also feel absolved of not being enough for you too. :)   You will both be looking forward to spending a more fulfiling time together, without really clocking in the minutes or hours. My best wishes to both of you and to a more enriching life ahead for you:)

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