The Grumpy Introvert on Being Unashamed of Your Bubble

Dear Grumpy,

I’m an introvert married to an introvert. My husband and I are child-free. We love to stay home and snuggle and basically shut out the world. My family doesn’t understand our quiet life and say that we should break out of our happy bubble and interact with other couples. How can we make them understand we love our life the way it is?

Sincerely,

Happy in Our Bubble

Dear Bubbles,

Well, this is an easy day at the office. How do you make them understand? Answer: you don’t.

[Ed. Note: Kinda blunt, don’t you think?]

[G.I.: O, ye of little faith.]

Bubbles, I hereby absolve you of any nagging obligation you feel to defend your peaceful, snuggly, happily married, introvert-idyllic lifestyle. I wave my magic Grumpy wand over your and your husband’s heads (it growls, don’t get spooked). I intone these words:

YOU ARE NEVER UNDER ANY OBLIGATION TO EXPLAIN YOUR HAPPINESS TO ANYONE.

Never. Not ever. Like, really, never ever ever. Your happiness sounds genuine and true and very, very aligned with your introvert natures. You have nothing to prove or to defend to anyone. As a friend once said to me about a stroke of happiness that was, admittedly, confusing to my Grumpy self: “Take this ticket.”

[Ed. Note: Ticket? Now there are tickets?]

[G.I.: So. Impatient. You’ll understand soon enough.]

My friend meant, simply, climbing on board the happy train, without second-guessing it or overthinking it. It sounds like you’ve already accepted the ticket, Bubbles and Hubbles. You know what makes you happy, and you’re there. Bravo. But you can’t make other people take the ticket too.

I’m guessing your family is more extroverted in nature than you and your hubby. Bless their concerned, over-scheduled, meddling hearts. It sounds like they mean well, of course. Perhaps they are afraid you will get sick of each other and your harmonious Netflix binges. (“No, YOU pick our next series.” “No, you, Pumpkin!”) Perhaps your family is worried you’re not making the most of your youth—or your freewheeling middle age. You don’t say how old you and your hubby are, but there seems to be an extra-extroverted societal expectation for married-without-kids folks to be Out There, making it rain with all that disposable income you’re assumed to have amassed. I know. Ha! Ha ha ha!

My hunch is you are far from millionaires—just filthy rich in contentment. And for some devilish reason, contentment really seems to bug people who are observing it from a distance. What’s that all about, Humanity? Why are we humans so suspicious of quiet happiness? If someone professes to be content with a life as-is, we think they must be hiding something. Well…some of us do. As a species, we tend to thrive on upheaval and chaos. And we feel better about our own lives when the people around us seem to be struggling just as much—or maybe just a teensy bit more—than we are.

I have no doubt you and your husband have your challenges and struggles, just like everyone else on the planet. But I also get the feeling you’ve lucked into a very good thing and you don’t take it for granted, not one bit. That’s golden, Bubbles. As long as you and he occasionally get out of the house to buy toilet paper and allow your pasty complexions see the light of day, I think you’re fine.

You’ll know when it’s time to change things up. Maybe a little malaise or discontent will creep in at some point. That won’t be a sign that anything’s wrong between you two, not even a little. It will just clue you in that a little change is in order, a little out-of-the-box excitement for you two introvert lovebirds. Have fun with that when that day comes. Dare to shake things up for a little while. You’ll know when it’s time to head back to your bubble—your Netflix queue will still be waiting.

And the next time anyone questions your relationship and your happy life together? Just smile, smile, smile…and say nothing at all. Some things don’t require explanation, and your happiness is one of them.

Mazel tov, you two.

Sincerely,

Grumpy

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  • Kim Snader

    Enjoy your bubble, but do a little to maintain some family and social connections. I say this as an introverted widow who once had a similar, perfect relationship with the “only one” I believed I needed.

    • Tami Harbin

      I’m sorry for your loss, Kim! I think you have real wisdom in your comment here!

  • Sebastian Vaisov

    But aren’t these bubbles just comfort zone from you don’t want to get out? “I’m fine with overweight, I don’t want to do sport”, “I’m fine overeating while Netflixing”, etc. Yes, it’s great to sit home and watch movies, even better if your SO shares the same belief. But for me it looks like just “leave me alone, I’m too afraid to go out from my comfort zone”. And if that’s true – then you’re happy, but actually you’re getting down, because the same feels with all the addictions – it’s fine and happy enough to continue until some point, then it starts to feel bad, but it’s usually too late to do something about that. What I’m trying to say is that you have to go out and meet people occasionally. Yes, not everyday like your extravert friend, but sitting at home for weeks or even months isn’t good for you in the end. Believe me. In the beginning it feels awesome. No one bothers you, you two can do whatever you want, watch movies, play games, you name it. But then suddenly when you’re enough with that you realize that there’s no one calling you anymore to ask to go out, no one sends you any message (because you refused too much times). And then you two become lonely couple without friends. And it’s much harder to obtain friends back or even harder to find new when you realize that it’s enough of bubble and “hey, friends, I want to go out”.

    • Lindsay Knake

      “What I’m trying to say is that you have to go out and meet people occasionally.”
      No, you don’t.

  • Revangel Flow

    Great! You nailed it, Grumpy! I love it

  • Rahul Rajendran

    Cool! 😀 Well said Grumpy!

  • I could not have said it better. Bubbles, those beautiful bubbles of peace and tranquility when you enjoy with your partner being at home, without being disturbed. And how you say it at the end, just smile and do not give explanations to them.

  • Zazaza Papp

    aw Grumpy well said! Have a nice day! =D 🙂 =)

  • Shemayil Lail

    Oh god yes! Explaining yourself to others never works, no matter how diplomatic and polite you are.

  • Joe Joe

    Maybe their family misses them? Maybe this is their way of trying to get more exposure to them? Are they possibly shucking some other family responsibilities that other family members are forced to pick up the slack; elder parent care, etc.? Maybe there is resentment from that? Just throwing so thoughts out there. I’m not saying these reasons exist, but trying to look at the meddling family from another perspective.

    • J3551C4

      Thank you for suggesting this. My friends and I kinda lost an introverted someone to a marriage. We met their *one true love* a couple of times, but never got to know them, and *otl* never seemed to care about the rest of us. The introverted someone would drop us a line about how happy they were, and complain about how their families just wouldn’t leave them alone. Since the rest of us are also introverts, we’ve wondered if there’s a fine line between INTROVERT and JERK, and if we ever come close to it, ourselves.

      I’m not offering this as an objective anecdote. Since introverts are so careful about the friends we choose, I guess we’re still nursing a sore spot where this friend used to be.

  • Kris Broderick

    I just say, “Oh dear, I am so sorry but I/we have other plans.” Period! A nap, book or snuggle with the pooch… those are legitimate plans.

  • Kari Lønning

    I see wonder from people when I’m not angst ridden. What they don’t understand is that I can’t handle that kind of energy drain and so have chosen something different for myself. My comfort spot won’t work for everyone, but it does for me.

  • Carol R

    I certainly agree that we’re not obligated to defend ourselves. However, we might wish to explain because we want the people who love us to understand us better. People who express concern are not necessarily meddling.

  • Alejandro

    Boom! Yes!

  • Joan Harris

    My hubs and I are both introverts, too. We live about 3 hours from our closest family and usually attend holiday and other gatherings whether we want to or not. Hubs argues relentlessly with his mom when we are there, and always feels like my family manipulates us into staying longer than we intended to. A few years ago, I put my foot down and started saying No, thank you, to their invites. Then they accuse us of being selfish, stand-offish, uncaring, etc, and hubs, eaten up by guilt, gives in. I don’t think there is anything wrong with spending our holidays and vacations alone, if that is what we prefer. Thanks for agreeing with me.

    • J3551C4

      Between me and my husband (both of us largely introverts; he more than I), I used to try to arrange our schedules around the holiday get-togethers. Despite needing serious recharge time, I’m a social networker, and I want people to be happy. During this “happy family time”, my side of the family would ask when we’re going to have children; his side would ask when we’re going to ditch the roommates. After moving a couple thousand miles away from home base, it dawned on me that my happiness also matters, which makes my husband happy, so the family can find drama elsewhere.

  • While my husband and I like to out sometimes, we also enjoy quiet evenings at home. There’s nothing wrong with that!

  • Susannah

    I could have written that letter to Grumpy. But I didn’t. Loved it.

  • Ray Doraymefa

    Bullseye, Grumpy!
    I’ve been in an introvert-introvert relationship for more than a third of a century, and consider myself to be among the most fortunate people alive. (Motto: “Mixed marriages never work out!” <— iz a joke, people, OK?)

    Our "yours-mine-ours" and "them-us" scales have always found a balance, though of course the balances have been adjusted over the years. The gentleness of your satire on "outsider" critics is admirable, as sometimes I wanted to respond to comments in a way that was stronger than merely grumpy.

    I'm not sure "smile, smile, smile" is the best course for everyone; sometimes I think it's almost a duty to educate the well-intentioned critic. But thanks for your gentle and creative treatment of this issue.