Kristen admits she has a tendency to be passive aggressive.
In past relationships, "If something was bothering me or making me upset with the person I was dating, I would bottle it up and not say anything until the issue was forced, and then I would explode." Now she's married to an extreme extrovert who brings up things without hesitation, and doesn't let Kristen get away with shutting down when he can tell she's upset.
That's one way of handling it: The introvert can give the extrovert permission to drag things out of them, by saying, "I have a tendency to shut down when I'm upset, and I know that doesn't do us any good.
So be nice about it, but it's OK for you to drag me out of my silent, angry corner* when necessary." Other introverts, however, need time to process a problem or squabble before they can talk it through.
Nancy, for example, says that if her extroverted wife says something that upsets her, "I withdraw.
, the answers were pretty consistently some variation of "badly." Most said they tended to shut down. Psychologist John Gottman, a preeminent researcher into why marriages succeed or fail, has found that how a couple handles conflict is a good predictor of the relationship's long-term potential. But introverts and extroverts approach conflict so differently—what do you do when one of you is an "I don't want to talk about it" introvert, and the other is a "Let's get it all out there" extrovert?
This is a particular risk for introvert-introvert couples: Kristen, whom I interviewed for the book, believes her first marriage, to another introvert, collapsed under the weight of unspoken conflict.
"When an extrovert argues, there may be a more wordy approach to it, a more emotional component," said psychotherapist Nathan Feiles.
"The introvert tends to be more rational and reasonable about it, less comfortable experiencing the emotion and ambiguity." So here's one scenario: The extrovert sees an issue in the relationship and deals with it head on, with a torrent of words and unbridled emotion.
The introvert is a deer in the headlights and either quickly acquiesces to whatever the extrovert wants, to make all just go away; or shuts down and broods, having angry, muttered conversations with him or herself instead of the other person.
() In the first scenario, the extrovert might go blithely on his or her way, unaware of the false victory he or she has allowed, or the seed of resentment just planted.
In the second, the extrovert can either let the introvert stew in his or her own anger and hope for the best, or drag out information, whatever it takes.
The discussed their different styles and figured out how to best manage inevitable conflict.