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I have had the book for a while and got a little bit into it and then the holidays hit and my motivation to read it was shot all to hell. Well, I picked it up again earlier this week and I haven't been able to put it down in my spare time. Susan Cain has done an incredible amount of research and thoughtful analysis on this subject and I felt compelled to share what I believe will resonate loudly with PTSD sufferers and their partners. It is almost so simple and matter-of-fact you will catch yourself going, "Nah....It can't be that simple, can it?"
Do not mistake my intent; simple does not mean easily fixed. It just means that many times the simple cause of a problem is the one most often overlooked. Here's the first section I wanted to share:
"...Emily nurtures her marriage in just the way that you'd expect an agreeable introvert to do, making Greg the center of her social universe.
Except when she doesn't. Emily has a demanding job, and sometimes when she gets home at night she has little energy left. She's always happy to see Greg, but sometimes she'd rather sit next to him reading than go out for dinner or make animated conversation. Simply to be in his company is enough. For Emily, this is perfectly natural, but Greg feels hurt that she makes an effort for her colleagues and not for him.
This was a painfully common dynamic in the introvert-extrovert couples I interviewed: the introverts desperately craving downtime and understanding from their partners, the extroverts longing for company, and resentful that others seemed to benefit from their partners' "best" selves.
It can be hard for extroverts to understand how badly introverts need to recharge at the end of a busy day. We all empathize with a sleep-deprived mate who comes home from work too tired to talk, but it's harder to grasp that social overstimulation can be just as exhausting.
It's also hard for introverts to understand just how hurtful their silence can be..."
The second excerpt addresses arguments and differences in approach:
'...When she and Greg disagree, her voice gets quiet and flat, her manner slightly distant. What she's trying to do is minimize aggression - Emily is uncomfortable with anger - but she appears to be receding emotionally. Meanwhile, Greg does just the opposite, raising his voice and sounding belligerent as he gets ever more engaged in working out their problem. The more Emily seems to withdraw, the more alone, then hurt, then enraged Greg becomes; the angrier he gets, the more hurt and distaste Emily feels, and the deeper she retreats. Pretty soon they're locked in a destructive cycle from which they can't escape, partly because both spouses believe they're arguing in an appropriate manner..."
I have never been one to give relationship advice. It's not my area of expertise and I sure as hell don't have any room to talk from a position of superior moral authority on the subject. That being said, I would highly recommend this book to anyone. It delves into workplace relationship dynamics as well. I believe it will help veterans better communicate with their loved ones and their co-workers, enabling them to lead happier and more productive lives.