Lockdown!

Across the world, billions of people are being told to stay home.  For weeks.  Quite apart from the economic damage this is causing, there is a huge social trauma as people have to adapt to a new situation.

For a small number of introverts who live alone, this is heaven.  They get solitude enforced on them; how bad it that?  But for some introverts it’s a nightmare: being shut up in a house with housemates, a partner, children and no private space will be a huge challenge.

And for extraverts, they will be struggling with the lack of companionship and group activities.  We are finding the limits of social media – you can be on your phone all day long and still feel starved of people.  And many of the more tactile of us will be longing for physical touch.  An extravert with an introvert partner will be clinging to that partner for company, at the very time the partner is wanting more space.  There could be divorces as a result of this.

To manage this situation well, first work out whether you’re an introvert or an extravert.  It’s not always easy, as some introverts are highly social and can look like extraverts, and some extraverts can also be reflective.  It all boils down to how your regain energy: if solitude drains you, you’re likely an extravert.

Second, communicate this to the people you’re living with so that they know what you need.  And listen to them so you understand why their needs may be different to yours.

Third, work out a compromise that delivers some of what you all need.  Define times for space and times for being silent or social.  Agree that a certain room is designated either noisy or quiet.  Come up with a sign that you need to be undisturbed, like wearing a particular hat or putting an apron over your head like John Wesley’s mother!

Fourth, pray for each other to have the grace to put up with you!  In The Marriage Course there is a wonderful testimony from a man who said he spent the first 15 years of his marriage focussing on his needs and his wife’s shortcomings, and the second 15 years focussing on his wife’s needs and his shortcomings.  The second 15 years was the best!

During this challenging time, let’s all be people who put the needs of others before our own.