A common pairing I see in counseling, and in life (and in my own marriage!) is Highly Sensitive (HSP) female with non-Highly Sensitive male. Since my marriage is 100% perfect all the time (ha ha! ha ha ha ha ha!) but reasonably functional a majority of the time, and since I do have a lot of experience with couples in my day to day work, I figured I would amass a short list of things that HSP women married to non-HSP men should keep in mind.
- Your non-HSP husband may not want to talk on a deep level all the time, or barely ever, but it's likely that he's still better than some artistic dude who tends toward depression but talks on such a deep level that your heart goes pitter pat in the early days of your union (trust me on this one). Because when you get overwhelmed with life stuff, he can take over, no problem, as nothing makes his heart rate deviate from normal.
- If you come to the table with concrete solutions, even if they are in the area of emotionality, such as learning empathy by rote, or bringing conversational topics to the table (or doing my book together), this will go better than vague complaints like "do you ever even FEEL ANYTHING?"
- Sex goes a long way.
- If you can go into your time machine and make sure your husband genuinely understands that you are an HSP, then you'll have better luck. If you can't, then try and educate him now. I can educate him myself if you can't find a therapist in your area who does. (And I am really really good at making people realize that HSP is a thing, via articles and coaching, not to toot my own horn. Honk.)
- Don"t try and change your inner workings. But do reframe and compromise without saying you suck as a person. Delicate balance.
- Get a babysitter more frequently, although not enough to make you feel you're outsourcing your parenting.
- Did I mention more sex? At literally any time that you can do it. Ask him to go in to work late or do it right after kids go to sleep or just give a handjob sometimes. I am serious, HSP women. I work with 20 couples weekly at any given time and in 90% of cases I firmly believe this would transform the marriage. It doesn't matter whether you think this "should" be the case, it is. Anyone is more likely to deal with you being sensitive and perfectionistic if they got sex that week, unless they are a huge narcissistic jerk like this dude in which case divorce him.
- Hire a housecleaner if at all possible. Better than you guys don't fight than that your kids get a full ride to Harvard. Besides, who are you betting on Harvard for? The kid who is currently eating her hair or the one on his seventh episode of Stinky and Dirty? I am right there with you, people.
- Make sure that everyone knows that when Mommy's door is closed, and you interrupt her, it is just as bad as waking a sleeping rabid dog. You need your alone time, or else you will detonate. If your husband cannot understand this, hammer it into his head with a combination of flowcharts and diagrams and dioramas. If he still complains, threaten him with deep conversations about this topic daily until he relents. Don't let your ego or your anxiety get in the way. Yes, the kids could scream for you but you need to take a nap, and your husband can keep them alive. For real.
- And the most important: Try to understand your husband's point of view and convey your understanding whenever possible. Take full ownership of your often difficult nature. There is no "I" in functonal marriage. (As you're a highly observant HSP you get that joke.)
This post was originally published here on Dr. Psych Mom. Follow Dr. Rodman on Dr. Psych Mom, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.
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