I grew up in a family of introverts who pretended to be extroverts for much of the week; after all, they pastored a small suburban church. My parents filled their days with church members seeking counseling, phone calls, drop-ins, and members simply wanting to chat. So at home, they needed time to recharge.
On evenings and Saturdays, my family returned to the natural order of the introvert: quiet and calm, with no excessive talking. They filled their free time with, well . . . nothing. I remember my childhood home as one of varying degrees of peace and quiet. For a bookish girl like myself, this fit me perfectly.
When my husband and I began dating, I entered into a family of extroverts of the intense variety. I never knew whom I might meet at their house. The phone rang every few minutes, the family held loud conversations through walls and closed doors, and people dropped in with alarming regularity.
My future mother-in-law maintained an open door policy, and many times I arrived at their home to find strangers hanging out in my mother-in-law’s kitchen while she was out shopping.
I had no frame of reference for this kind of behavior, and I felt like Alice in Wonderland after falling down the rabbit hole of extreme hospitality.
I enjoyed spending time in both places — my parent’s house felt like a retreat, an oasis to return to when the hustle and bustle of my fiance’s home became overwhelming. And while watching my mother-in-law from a safe distance, I learned more about the importance of making our homes a place of welcome and hospitality.
After marrying my husband, our expectations of what home would look like for us as a couple inevitably collided. I wanted quiet, he wanted chaos. Or in his words, “People over for dinner.” I wanted intimate gatherings, he wanted parties.
He once invited over the entire neighborhood, while I sat dumbfounded next to him. Needless to say, our extreme differences meant that meeting in the middle didn’t feel natural to either one of us. So we’ve spent the last nineteen years learning how to give and take, carving out a new version of what home means for us as a family.
Home doesn’t have to be an exclusive retreat, nor does it need to be a revolving door of party people.
We’ve learned to strike a balance, where home feels like a warm welcome — where it becomes whatever our friends and family need, as they need it. When people arrive at our front door, I want to think less of myself, and how I feel about my hosting abilities, and more about how we make others feel as our guests.
Above all, we want our home to feel safe for everyone who sits at our table, and for each of us who live here. We hold others words in confidence, we won’t judge, and we desire their company. We want them to know hospitality isn’t a competition. Crumbs will scatter the floor, the food will likely be takeout, and our kids will inevitably show visitors where we fail in parenting. It’s part of our (mostly) open-door policy.
Nineteen years, three kids, and six homes later, we’re finally learning how to lean into our strengths as a couple. I offer people rest, and my husband offers them a party. Either way, you’re welcome to join us.
Related: Hang this beautiful 8×10 print in your home to remember that “Life isn’t about having it all together — it’s about knowing together we have it all.”Leave a Comment
From one Kimberly Ann to another, I just loved your post! It does take awhile to find that middle ground that is comfortable to each person, and I’ve found there’s a lot to learn too!
Hi Kimberly! Yes, always more to learn from each other in marriage. I’m not sure I always receive that as a gift, but it’s absolutely true;)
I’m an introvert, who grew up in a “quiet” family like yours…and married into a “LOUD” family like your husband’s. I love both. We’ve been married for 35 years, and so hopefully we’ve figured out a happy medium…blending the things we love most from both of our families. Thank you for this post!
Thanks for reading, Marty:) I’m so glad you can relate! We need a little of both in our lives, don’t we?
Thanks, Bevy:) It’s taken me a long time to understand that hospitality isn’t really about me after all!
I love this, Kimberly. My husband and I are opposites in how we operate as well so it’s taken a long time to figure out how to open our home to people and also to close it when I need sanctuary, and not feel guilty for taking care of ourselves so we can pour out into others.
Yes! No guilt allowed, especially where self-care is involved:) Thanks so much for reading, Alia. I always get a little excited when I see your name next to some words online;)
Marian Vischer says
Kimberly, such a great post! And I love the idea of striking a balance and being okay with the imperfection of it all.
I wish balance was my middle name, but alas, it’s not;)
Absolutely love this! The idea of ‘my home being what others need’ strikes me the most. Hospitality isn’t about me, although so often, that’s what I have made it about. I love both the chaos of entertaining and the quiet of smaller gathering so I fluctuate back and forth. No matter what hospitality looks like in my home, I want to focus on making others feel safe and welcome.
I have the tendency to make everything in life about me, so hospitality is always a place where this stretches me to think of others first.
This is beautiful Kimberly! While I am an extrovert, I still have work to do in the hospitality area because I put my perfectionist pressure on myself. But really it’s all about relationship and availability. #WorkInProgress
Oh, gosh yes. Perfectionism can kill just about anything. #FellowWorkInProgress
I loved reading about your 19 years of fighting for home balance. Sometimes I worry that my stronger personality has forced Tim over to being more introverted over time. Like a wearing down. We just celebrated 15 years and I see how we have balanced each other, but still struggle with how our home is supposed to look.
It certainly hasn’t been easy. I’m generally appalled every time my husband invites large groups of people over, but I’ve learned not to lead with that feeling:)
Lux @ About Life and Love says
Balance is the key indeed. And a good thing to learn it early on.
Very well written. 🙂
Thanks, Lux:) We’re still a work in progress!
Beth Williams says
Love this! It doesn’t take a perfect home, just willing heart wanting to be around people to have hospitality. It is about the friendships we make not how big, or clean our house is!