I love that he enjoys all of this, I really do. However, I find myself dreading these visits because I come home so emotionally drained. I thought I was doing a good job of being a good sport, but recently he has noticed my lack of enthusiasm for visiting his family and all that is involved with these visits.
What is the right balance here? I really care for his family, they are great people and I love them to visit me in our home, but I feel out of my element and overwhelmed when we visit there. Help! I want to do the right thing for my husband.
Answer: As your foray into good-sportsmanship just demonstrated, sometimes the right thing for your husband is to do the right thing for you.
You love him and you like his family, and haven't clipped his extrovert wings, so the important things are there. Meaning, you don't need to prove your affection for either by pasting a smile on your face through lunch, coffee, dinner, drinks, and the dread "etc."
Instead, you can explain to your husband (if he's somehow not fully versed in the nature of your nature) that the social interactions that energize him have a draining effect on you. Then point out that the enthusiasm deficit he detects isn't purposeful — you've really tried to rally for him — but it is real, because these visits wipe you out. You can't be "on" socially for several events in rapid succession, not without taking breaks to recharge.
Then say you'd like to start including some breaks on your next visit so you can really enjoy yourself with these great people, instead of just trying to appear as if you are for fear of hurting their feelings.
Then, ask him if he has any preference in the way you handle these breaks. A full schedule one day, followed by a day off? Skip every other/every third scheduled stop each day? Join everyone for meals and entertain yourself between? He picks two can't-miss gatherings daily and for the rest you see how you feel?
That you're framing this in terms of what's right for your husband says you want to keep rallying. Make that clear to him, while not straying from the message of you: You are his opposite. Quantity of social time comes at the expense of quality. Therefore, neither of you will like the results if he rejects either-or and expects you to have his capacity for both.
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