I Am Married To The World's Biggest... / by Dana Bergstrom

...okay, here's a hint. People come and come again and still come back for more. That's right! I am married to the world's biggest and friendliest EXTROVERT!

I have never met anyone who has more people drop by to visit than Paulycakes.

At our last fixer upper Pauly had loads of folks streaming through the house on a regular basis. One lady made it a point to stop by on her daily walk to see what he'd gotten done the day before. Another neighbor came over not just once, but multiple times a day. And then there were countless others dropping by any old time.

In fact, no matter where Pauly's at, he always has tons o' friendly visitors. And ya know what he does? Unless he's in a big rush to beat the weather, he stops whatever he's working on and talks to them. He gives a tour. He offers a coffee or a beer. He happily explains in excited detail each step he took to execute whatever woodworking feat he's just accomplished. He wonders if they'd like to take home anything that's harvestable in his garden and lets them know that he'd be happy to help them with their own house projects.

And even though we're now fixing a house on a dead end road, we still average several visitors a day. Pauly LOVES talking it up with anyone who comes by.

I adore Pauly's generosity, kindness and amazing sense of hospitality. But sometimes I don't. Like when I want to get a project done so I can go home and read.

Ya see, I'm an introvert. The difference between us is that he gets energized talking to people. And I refuel by being alone. That is the main difference between introverts and extroverts. People are occasionally surprised when I tell them I'm an introvert because I seem sorta friendly and have it in me to be outgoing, animated and wild. But not all introverts are shy or subdued. Introverts simply need their me-time to get energized.

When Pauly and I got married and started attending each others' family holidays, he found my family terribly confusing. Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings and cousins would gather for a meal, we'd chat while eating and then everybody would head off into separate corners to read books, or we'd split up into small groups for hikes or other activities. Then the whole fam would meet up again for the next meal. Pauly wondered why we didn't do everything together. I explained it as gently as I could, "We are a family of introverts, love. We each need alone time. We don't do activities all at once and as one gigantic group." Twenty-three years later, it still takes him a while to adjust to my family's holiday rhythm.

When I go to his family's house for events, it's the absolute opposite experience. There is so much togetherness, so much talking, so much doing everything as one that I can barely deal. Now that I no longer have a dog to quietly tend to outside and away from all of the talking, I take a nap just to get through the day. Managing my energy for that kind of intense people time requires a fair amount of alone time for me.

And ever since Pauly left his job in June, I RARELY get time by myself. With both of us home 24/7 and the Mister's love for chatting, I've begun to loudly declare "NO TALKING TIME" and "DANA DAYS" where I get to be alone and recharge my energy.

These tiny steps toward solitude have been valiant attempts and they've been complete and utter failures. I get to be by myself for a little while but then my sweetie has something important to discuss or he wants me to see something or he's just curious about what I'm doing. I've tried turning him away but it doesn't work. He's too dang cute.

Perhaps there's an easy solution. Since Pauly's going between both of our houses all day long, I could just get my own space. I've wanted one of those tiny houses on wheels for ages! Actually, I'm rather obsessed with them and a small space would be perfect for my solo self! An adorable, teeny, tiny house would have a sweet little kitchen, a bathroom and a lovely spot for me to read and write. I could go in there and lock the door for most of the day. KEEP OUT! SCRAM! NO BOYS ALLOWED! REDHEADED MIDDLE AGED WIVES ONLY! These words would be emblazoned in giant, bold lettering on the front door. Maybe that would work?

Pfffffft. I bet he'd just hook up the tiny house and haul me around town until I finally unlocked the door and poked my head out to find out what was going on. He's persistent like that...unless, of course, I could get even more visitors to come by and entertain him. Then he'd leave me in peace and I'd putz in my tiny house to my happy heart's content.

I love my husband, as well as my alone time. And as we learned in therapy, Pauly and I are on the lookout for win-win situations in all things. We'll work it out so we can live happily ever after together, and maybe, just maybe, this ever after will include a cute, tiny house for an introverted wife who loves to yell.