You already know how great a highly sensitive person (HSP) is to be with – after all, you married one!
They’re wonderfully empathetic beings, but that doesn’t mean being the spouse of an HSP is always easy. From managing emotions to getting through the everyday squabbles, below are 15 things you need to know if you’re married to a highly sensitive person.
1) They need their alone time more than you might like
Marriage is all about give and take, but when one needs more alone time than the other, it’s often a cause for conflict.
Your HSP partner takes on more stimulation throughout the day than you do, so if they need to sneak away to be by themselves for a few hours – let them.
Think of it like they’re plugging themselves in to recharge their batteries. We all have to do that from time to time, even non-HSPs.
Now, it’s normal if you feel a bit put out when this happens.
You both get home from a long day at work – you fancy hanging out and watching a movie together, but your partner needs time and space to destress alone.
You wonder why they can’t do this with you.
It’s natural to feel this way, but it’s not going to help your marriage if you resent your partner every time they need some space.
Instead, help them get some peace, let them recharge their energy levels, and you’ll have a much happier spouse and marriage in the long run!
2) Their extreme awareness and observations might not always be welcome
A unique gift HSPs have is incredible awareness and observational skills. They see past the surface, right down to the depths of the people around them.
So, naturally, as their spouse, you’re going to be analyzed. A lot.
And that means the good and the bad.
Now, in any type of marriage, pointing out one another’s flaws is a touchy subject. All it takes is a comment on a bad day to set off an argument, and in some cases, it can feel damn-right hurtful to hear your spouse criticize you.
They’re meant to be your biggest fan, right?
But an HSP will make observations and depending on their personality, they may be more forthcoming with these insights than you’d always like.
The truth is:
They’re being honest with you because they love you and feel comfortable doing so. Their observations might sound harsh, but learn to separate an uncomfortable truth from a demeaning insult.
And if your spouse is a little bit too honest, too often?
Talk about it with them. Explain how it makes you feel (although there’s a good chance they’ll have already picked up on that) and see if you can reach an agreement whereby observations are shared in a lighthearted way.
This’ll avoid either of you becoming defensive in the future, without anyone having to walk on eggshells.
3) They feel deeply and may take longer to heal when hurt
When an HSP feels negative energy, it isn’t a fleeting experience. It stays with them, even if they don’t know the person they’ve picked it up from.
Whether it’s their own negative energy or that of someone else, it can take its toll on an HSP, even if you don’t necessarily get what the big deal is.
For example, your spouse’s colleague is going through a divorce.
It’s sad, no one will deny that. But your spouse seems to be particularly hung up about it.
For a while, you put it down to the fact that they’re colleagues and your spouse obviously cares about the person in question and worries about their wellbeing.
But when your spouse doesn’t drop it and continues to feel sad for their colleague, it can start to feel like they themselves are going through a divorce.
Why does this happen?
It’s because HSPs absorb the emotions of those around them. It’s likely their colleague’s sorrow and despair has transferred over to your spouse.
It might not be happening to them, but they feel it all the same.
It’ll take longer for them to get over this situation than another non-HSP colleague, who’ll offer a comforting shoulder but move on from the subject once they get home.
Be patient with your spouse. It might seem like they’re carrying the woes of the world with them, but with support from their partner they can learn to minimize how much the emotions of others take their toll.
4) Things can get intense, fast
Naturally, HSPs feel things way more intensely than non-HSPs.
Whether it’s the feeling of the sun warming their skin, their favorite song giving them shivers, a piece of artwork that brings up old emotions, every sensation is heightened.
And while the good stuff feels GREAT, the bad stuff can feel worse than that it actually is in reality.
But, as their spouse, you can make the most of this (when it comes to positive feelings) including in the bedroom.
Don’t be afraid to find your partner’s point of arousal (without overstimulating them) using sensory stimulators.
Every HSP is different, so what works for your spouse might not necessarily affect others, but that’s all part of the fun. Explore with your spouse, whether it’s playing around with certain materials, or sounds and smells that arouse them.
On the other hand:
Some HSPs are affected by loud noises. Others cannot stand certain smells. Some people might get put off by certain tastes or bright lights.
Another common experience is not being able to stand specific textures touching their skin. To the point where it pains them.
Knowing this can help you understand why your partner suddenly needs to leave a party or a sports match, or why they don’t wear certain clothing.
It is important to ask your partner to be open about how their senses are affected, so you can help them leave situations when needed rather than letting them become overwhelmed.
5) Arguments can overstimulate an HSP
Every relationship will have arguments at some point, and the strength of the relationship will be determined by how well you deal with these.
Most HSPs will run from the situation to avoid the conflict, while others may feel threatened and start lashing out at you.
In this case, both of you must discuss your defense mechanisms and reactions to conflict in moments where there is no conflict present.
Here are some ways you can approach this conversation:
- Find somewhere calm and inviting to talk, preferably somewhere private so you won’t be interrupted.
- Keep the conversation respectful. If it feels like it’s becoming heated, pause for a moment and come back to it when both of you have calmed down.
- Don’t beat around the bush. Speak directly and listen to each other’s points without dismissing them.
- Get to the root of the problem and leave the petty complaints out of it (pick your battles).
- Try to find common ground where you can compromise together.
- If you can’t reach a solution, agree to disagree if the problems can be overlooked for the greater good of the relationship.
Discussing this when you’re both in the mental headspace to sit and have a mature conversation will lessen the amount of conflict you face when one or both are worked up and angry.
And, even though it may be uncomfortable or difficult to get through, know that you’ll both gain a better understanding of each other the more you practice this exercise.
6) They want to be cared for but not smothered
Will your HSP spouse need reassurance and love from you?
Yes. And probably a lot of it.
But will your HSP want to be treated like a child wrapped in bubble wrap?
Of course not!
Learning when your spouse needs your support and when to back off and let them deal with their emotions alone is essential if you don’t want to smother them, even if it is well-intended.
Whilst you’ll want to be the one they turn to when they need to feel loved and accepted, you don’t want to make the mistake of trying to “fix” them. Their emotions don’t need fixing, they just need a safe, comforting environment to be worked through.
And more than anything, your spouse wants to feel accepted, especially by you. This is the greatest support you can give them.
7) They note your body language even if you don’t realize it
Even if you’re not verbally conveying how you feel to your HSP spouse, be sure that they’re picking up on non-verbal cues – all the time.
Whether it’s a seemingly innocent eye roll or a shrug of the shoulders, your spouse is constantly absorbing information from the details around them, including the way you respond to them.
So even if you don’t mean to come across as annoyed or frustrated, being mindful of your body language can help avoid unnecessary tension in your marriage.
Now with that being said, you don’t need to obsess over every facial expression you make for fear it’ll upset your spouse.
That would be impractical and pretty much impossible since so many of our bodily movements happen without our knowledge or realization!
Instead, if your partner does pick up on certain things, for example, eye-rolling, and you’re aware it’s a habit you have, you might want to talk about it with your partner.
Maybe you roll your eyes simply to add a bit of drama into situations, humorously rather than sarcastically. Explain this to your partner and they’ll be less likely to take it defensively the next time you do it.
8) It’s a good idea to know when to stop a conversation
As we mentioned earlier, heated discussions and conflict may overwhelm your spouse to the point where they can no longer continue and a time out is needed.
If you’re impatient with your HSP when they need time to process and think, it’ll only end in them feeling even more overwhelmed. This means the chances of reaching a healthy conclusion are dramatically reduced.
So, it’s important to know when to take a step back from a conversation with your HSP spouse, and allow some breathing time.
As your marriage progresses, you’ll naturally get to know your HSP even better than when you were just dating.
You’ll start to recognize their triggers, and together you’ll learn to navigate these tough conversations before an argument erupts.
Remember – it’s better to prevent a situation like this than have to do damage control after!
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9) Know which of the senses are triggering for your HSP spouse
Some HSPs are triggered more by sounds than by touch, others will react strongly to taste or smell.
Knowing as early on as possible which of the five senses affect your spouse will go a long way in helping your marriage.
For example, if your partner is stimulated by sound, knowing that having a conversation with them in a crowded restaurant probably isn’t going to flow well.
Or, if they’re overwhelmed by smells, you might prefer to buy unscented candles for that romantic evening at home. It’s knowing these little details that’ll help your spouse manage their overload.
10) Your words matter as much as your actions
Your HSP takes what you say deeply.
When you tell them how much you love them, or leave sweet notes around for them to wake up to, all this will touch your spouse and probably make their day if not their week!
On the other hand, though, if you insult your spouse or speak harshly to them, they’ll also feel take that to heart. The saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words shall never hurt me” doesn’t necessarily apply in this situation.
Even non-HSPs are greatly affected by hurtful comments, so imagine for someone who naturally feels everything more amplified.
And a final point on the words you choose – make sure they align with your actions.
HSPs are great at picking up on inconsistencies and he/she will notice if you’re not being genuine with what you say and do.
11) Their traits will probably rub off on you after a while
As any married couple will tell you, and as you’ve probably already noticed yourself, we naturally pick up habits and traits from our partners. This can sometimes be down to “mirroring“, or unconsciously copying the actions of your partner to increase the bond you share.
It makes sense; you eat, live, sleep together. It would be impossible to avoid adopting aspects of your partner and vice versa.
See this as a good thing. There are many wonderful things to be learned from the compassion and love for life HSPs have.
Empathy and compassion are just some of the qualities that you might find yourself increasing in, thanks to your spouse’s caring nature.
12) You’re going to need patience and understanding
Whilst this is needed if you’re married to a highly sensitive person, it’s actually the foundation of any marriage.
And the truth is:
With an HSP, both of you will need patience while you figure out how to navigate the ups and downs of your marriage. It’s not just on you to do that, both of you are responsible for managing your own emotions.
You’ll need to have patience when your partner needs space of their own. When they need to decompress in their own way. Or when they become snappy or impatient when suffering from sensory overload.
And the importance of understanding one another?
Well, if you want to be patient with your partner, you first need to understand them.
When you understand why your HSP spouse acts the way they do, you won’t take it personally, hopefully minimizing conflict in your marriage.
13) Your mood can and will affect your HSP spouse
Have you ever been around someone so happy that their liveliness feels infectious?
Or someone who’s down in the dumps, and can make a sunny day feel cloudy and grey?
We all encounter this from time to time, someone else’s mood rubbing off on us. But for an HSP, this happens tenfold. And you, being the person they’re closest to, have a powerful effect on their emotions.
You get in from a long day, you’re tired and all you want is to be left alone.
Your HSP spouse reminds you that you’re meant to be going out together later, and you snap back that you’re not in the mood.
The tension in your body, the tone of your voice, the words you use, and the expression on your face will all be picked up on by your spouse.
In any case, they’re liable to absorb these negative emotions, even to the point where they feel miserable too.
Now, that’s the downside of this ability that HSPs tend to have.
The upside is that when you’re happy, they’re happy! Your good vibes will be quickly picked up on.
And the truth is:
A marriage is going to have its ups and downs. You’re not expected to be in a good mood 24/7, it’s unnatural to always be happy.
But it’s still a good point to be aware of, at least as a reminder that taking your bad moods out of your partner won’t bode well for your marriage, and can be very draining for your partner.
14) You might have to compromise on your social life
It’s believed that roughly 70% of HSPs are introverted, meaning they may not enjoy big social gatherings with people they don’t know. Some may suffer from social overwhelm.
As their spouse, you probably already know this. But it’s something to keep in mind as you embark on married life, making plans with others, starting a family, and so forth.
When you were single, there were likely to be times that you would go to your separate social gatherings, as well as socializing as a couple.
But once you’ve joined the married club, you might be expected to show up together to every event- family get-togethers are one example of that.
Be aware of how much your HSP spouse can deal with in terms of socializing. Some will be fine depending on how loud or hectic the environment is. Others may feel overwhelmed by their surroundings, so it’s just a case of getting to know what works for you both.
And if your spouse is an extroverted HSP, finding the balance between enjoyment and becoming overloaded will be the key to enjoying a healthy social life together.
15) Your marriage will be happier if you don’t take everything to heart
Let’s be realistic here, this advice is for all married couples not just those with HSP!
But we know it’s easier said than done – if we could all stop taking things so personally, we’d all probably live much happier lives.
The truth is, you might not be able to ignore every snappy comment that comes your way during the course of your marriage.
But, understanding your partner and how being highly sensitive affects their moods daily, will help.
When you sense that they’re exhausted, or overwhelmed, knowing that their short responses and even harsh words aren’t directed at you will help defuse the situation.
Now, with that being said, you’re not an emotional punch bag. If your partner, HSP or non-HSP, feels it’s okay to verbally attack you, that’s unacceptable.
What I’m referring to here is the occasional misunderstanding, or snappy moment like every couple goes through. Not taking it to heart will help your partner calm down quicker, and you can resolve it healthily and move on.
Being married to a highly sensitive person is extremely rewarding. Yes, there will be times where you clash, or you feel like you’re not on the same page.
But what marriage doesn’t go through periods like that?
The very fact that you’re reading up on how to support your HSP partner and learn about what it is to be highly sensitive in marriage, shows you’re already doing a great job.
So just remember, as, with any marriage, the recipe for success lies in having a balance in time spent together and apart, an understanding attitude, and above all, love and respect for one another.