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What Introverts Married to Extroverts Need to Know

Knowing who you are individually and together can make you stronger.

We’re all wired differently, and the differences are never more evident than in marriage. While navigating differences in relationships can present challenges, you’ll go deeper as your relationship grows and you become a student of your spouse. Couples often encounter differences when one spouse is introverted and the other is extroverted. This can be a pretty noticeable difference based on the individual’s personality, but these types are often misunderstood. Let’s dive a little deeper into understanding them.

What’s the difference between introversion and extroversion?

The common perception of the difference between these two is that one is shy and the other is outgoing. While that can be true, it isn’t the rule. Psychologist Carl Jung (the father of this whole conversation) classified the two groups based on where they find their energy. Extroverts are energized by the external world. Introverts are energized by alone time. 

So, are they polar opposites?

Jung discovered that people aren’t necessarily one or the other. Instead, look at it as a spectrum. There can be varying degrees of introversion and extroversion. My wife and I fall on different points of this spectrum. And it can fluctuate.

What does an introvert married to an extrovert need to know? 

There are differences in how these two are wired. So, for the introverts out there, here are some things you need to know and some tips to help you navigate your differences:

Navigating social settings.

As we discovered earlier, extroverts are energized by the external world. They are often the life of the party, and they love it. They live to meet new people and experience new places. “Stranger” is a foreign word to them. 

For the introverted spouse who likes to be alone, this can be a struggle. If they do go out in the crowd, they often want to be out of the spotlight. But if you know that your spouse is energized by being around others, you should talk about this. It’s not fair to prevent them from being in social settings, but it’s also unfair to always send them alone. It’s possible to find a balance that meets your needs and your spouse’s needs while strengthening your relationship.

Talking about their problems.

Extroverts usually find it easy to talk out their problems with others. They’re often more than willing to express their feelings, thoughts, and issues. 

On the other hand, introverts tend to internalize and think through things. They dislike conflict and will withhold their thoughts to avoid confrontation. For the health of your marriage, it’s essential to talk through issues and manage conflict together. Introverts may need to step out of their comfort zone and discuss issues with their spouse. They don’t have to talk to all their friends about it, but need to express it to their significant other. Remember, if you don’t discuss problems with your extroverted spouse, they will find someone to discuss them with. And the best place for marriage work to be done is in the marriage. (Read https://firstthings.org/should-you-tell-your-friends-and-family-about-your-marital-problems/.)

Taking risks.

Extroverts aren’t afraid of risk. They may be more apt to engage in risky behavior than an introvert. Some studies have shown that they are wired this way. Their brain rewards them when risks go well. One study found that risk-takers are rewarded with dopamine, a “feel good” chemical associated with pleasure and reward. So for extroverts, risk-taking brings about a rewarding sensation. The greater the risk, the greater the reward.

Introverts are more inclined to weigh the pros and cons of any risk. Whether diving into the stock market or diving out of an airplane, they think it through and process it. Their extroverted spouse just jumps. The introverted spouse needs to express their desire to process to their spouse. You can’t hold them back from taking the risk, but you can be their cheerleader, so look for opportunities to support healthy risk-taking. Remember, they are wired to have a natural desire to take risks.

These are just a few ways that introverts and extroverts differ. Remember, this is a spectrum, and you both may find yourselves at varying degrees on that spectrum. But most importantly, you need to recognize who you are, who they are, and who you are together. Marriage is about learning from each other and growing together. Be who you are and encourage your spouse in who they are. 

Sources: 

Neurobiology of the Structure of Personality: Dopamine, Facilitation of Incentive Motivation, and Extraversion

How Does Dopamine Effect the Body?

Extroverts, Introverts, and Everything in Between

Are You An Extrovert? Here’s How to Tell.

Tips for Extroverts Married to Introverts

These tricks can help you understand and appreciate each other!

I’m sure you want to understand and appreciate your spouse, and it can be hard sometimes. But I’m here to tell you: When extroverts are married to introverts, it can be a good thing — a great thing, even! You just have to figure a few things out and appreciate your differences.

My spouse and I are the epitome of the saying “opposites attract.” I’m an extrovert. He’s an introvert. Throughout our 27 years of marriage, I’ve become more extroverted. In contrast, he’s become more introverted. We’ve worked through and understood these differences by now, but it wasn’t easy at the beginning of our relationship. (Read What To Do When You And Your Spouse Are Really Opposites.)

We had conflicts and disagreements as a result. As an extrovert, I tended to be more talkative and demanding, which caused him to retreat. That led to frustration because I wanted him to be like me. But he’s not, and that’s ok!

Once I realized there was nothing wrong with him being who he is (an introvert), we could have productive conversations. In turn, he shared some things he wanted me to know about him, so I’ve got some tips to share. Navigating through our differences to reach the point of understanding was a good thing for us. 

How did we get there? 

We finally realized that the difference between introverts and extroverts is how each gains and uses emotional energy. We also recognized that being introverted or extroverted is not cut-and-dried. Instead, it’s on a continuum from extroversion to introversion. There are extreme extroverts, extreme introverts, introverted extroverts, extroverted introverts, and other combinations. 

If you are an extrovert married to an introvert, here are some things they probably wish you knew.

Being an introvert doesn’t mean they don’t like people.

As an introvert, your spouse does like people, but being around them requires them to use a lot of emotional energy. To restore themselves, they need time alone. Recognizing that they have limits on the amount of time they spend with others and the number of people they want to be around can help you understand them better.

Have a set game plan.

Whether you’re planning a dinner party for friends or want to attend the retirement party for your supervisor, talk about it with your spouse. Consider things like date, time, location, and the number of people. Once plans have been set, try not to change them at the last minute. Once you’ve shared the game plan, have an honest conversation about what you both expect. This will help you both mentally prepare for the interaction.

Accept, and don’t judge them.

If you’re at a social gathering, your introverted spouse may want to be near you. They may need your presence as support. While you want to “work the room,” realize that may be uncomfortable for them. Give them understanding, not judgment. Telling them they are anti-social or standoffish is not helpful.  

They need alone time.

After spending time with people, your spouse will need time to recharge. While you may be over the moon about spending time with people (and energized afterward), being around people can cause stress in your spouse. Solitude gives them the time and space to regain their equilibrium. They’re not trying to reject you or distance themselves from you. You can help your spouse out by creating an atmosphere that provides the solitude they enjoy. For example, try drawing a bath, placing candles around the tub, or making their favorite drink and leaving it near their favorite chair. This can demonstrate that you see, respect, and appreciate what it took for them to go with you to the outing. 

No matter what you prefer, it’s vital to know and understand how your spouse feels and responds to social events. Find ways to assist and support them. Things like standing near them, holding hands, or checking in from time to time to make sure they’re ok. Be aware of the signs that they have reached their limit. There’s a delicate tightrope between your comfort level and your spouse’s, but it leads to a great place. Remember, the more you understand your spouse, the more you can love, serve and give them what they need.

Sources:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-introverts-corner/201509/5-essential-tips-introvert-extrovert-couples

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/introversion

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/extroversion

When you dreamed about marriage, you probably had some things on your perfect partner ABC list. Things like attraction, brilliance, compassion, does anything I ask, etc. The letter “L” would have included stuff like loving or long kisses. Let me tell you what probably didn’t come to mind: Lazy spouse.

Realizing that your spouse is L-A-Z-Y stinks.

It can be painful and downright frustrating to feel like you’re putting in most of the effort. It can lead to anger and resentment for the one you promised to love, honor, and cherish for a lifetime. These bad feelings are not helpful for your marriage. 

There is a chance that what you think is laziness might be something else. You can read about that here.

But let’s say your spouse is truly lazy. And you’re over it.

You want more for your marriage. You want to know your spouse cares. And you want to feel heard, seen, and appreciated. But you’re tired.

I feel for you. 

And while there are no guarantees, there may be some things you can do to get your lazy spouse off the couch and by your side.

Here’s what to do.

Talk about what you need. 

According to one report, 61% of participants said that sharing household chores is very important for a successful marriage. (Although that percentage seems low to me.) And many couples are struggling to make ends meet, too.

Your mate can’t see what you think, and they probably didn’t take Mindreading 101, so you’re gonna need to lay it all out (without nagging). Say, over a non-threatening cup of coffee.

  • Talk about the budget. 
  • Write down all those unseen things you do and what needs to be done. Let them know you want a fully-invested partner in your marriage and home life. 
  • Ask how you both can make that happen, financially and emotionally. 
  • Talk about what your spouse does well, find ways to use their unique skills to make your lives more fulfilling, and make sure you both have time to rest and recharge. 
  • If you have kids, discuss how you both want to model the kind of mate your kids should look for.
  • Provide options. Delegate tasks. 
  • Set a start and stop time. 
  • Divide and conquer together.

ASK for what you need.

Motivate your mate. 

Make a big deal when they do helpful things. 

  • Tell them you appreciate the things you think they should just do, like taking out the trash. Tell ’em nobody could take that trash out any better than they do. 
  • Brag on them, even over small things. Make them feel like a hero.
  • Mention how close working as a team makes you feel. And how great it is to cross things off the to-do list.

Remember, if it’s fun, it will probably get done!

Be willing to do things their way.

Early in our marriage, my husband washed the towels. With the clothes. Leaving fuzz EVERYWHERE. Of course, since I was the “laundry expert,” I let him know about it. 

Not the best move for my marriage or my dreams of laundry bliss. Learn from my mistake.

Any chance you’re expecting too much or that your standards are too high? Ever re-do what your honey does? Or complain about how they do it? (Guilty.) If your spouse is afraid of doing something wrong or being criticized, they may just give up or resist because they don’t want to fail or because it hurts.

There’s more than one way to do things, and how you respond can encourage or stop the help you want. 

Seek Support.

Maybe you’ve tried these things already, and you feel stuck. That’s super hard. Talking to a professional counselor, either on your own or as a couple, may help. You might even have to hire someone to do some bigger or specialized things that need to get done.

I’ve heard that insanity is continually doing the same thing while expecting different results. If what you’re doing isn’t working, try something else. A change in you may lead to a change in your lazy spouse, and ultimately, a change in your marriage.

I don’t have all the answers, but I can tell you that you won’t know if you don’t try. And I wish you the best.

Other helpful blogs:

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

How to Find Common Interests With Your Spouse

It may not be as hard as you think it is.

There are two kinds of spouses in the world. (Ugh. I can’t stand statements like this.

  1. Those who think it’s not important to share some common interests with their spouse.
  2. Those who think not having common interests is the end of the world. (Or marriage.)

They’re both wrong.

“I don’t think our marriage can work. I just think we have nothing in common.” Keep thinking. You probably have more in common than you think. It’s easier to develop some common interests than you think. Your differing interests are probably healthier than you think.

Developing some common interests reinforces that you are a team and keeps you connected. It builds one of the most overlooked areas in marriage—friendship. (Newlyweds: “We’re soooo in love!” 10 Years Later And Beyond: “We’re best friends.”)

For those two kinds of spouses (and everyone in between) here’s how you find those common interests.

Each of you get out a piece of paper and thoroughly answer these three questions:

  • When you were a kid, what were you interested in?
  • What were you interested in when you were in high school?
  • What are you interested in lately?

Now compare your answers. One of you was interested in exploring as a kid. One of you was interested in camping out. Reconnect with those childhood interests as you connect with each other on a camping adventure. Be curious. Keep comparing lists. Make connections. Find the overlap. 

(Can’t find a single interest that connects, overlaps, or is in common? Really? I wanna know… Email pictures of your lists to [email protected] and if I can’t find some commonality, I’ll personally mail you a shiny new nickel.)

Get your pieces of paper back. List causes or issues, big and small, that you are concerned or passionate about.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Find something you can do about it together. It doesn’t have to be a big deal. Get creative. It might be litter. Pick a local park and get some gloves and trash bags and chit-chat as you pick up trash. Nothing brings people together like a common cause. Your marriage might spark a movement. 

Take your problem to the internet like all rational people do. Try Random Thing Picker.

Let the universe intervene. Each of you puts in two or three ideas for date night. I put in: Dance Class, Cooking Class, Painting Class, Movie Night, Game Night, and to live on the edge, I put in Housework. Then click “Pick One!” Boom! Cooking Class. Sign up for a class or find one on the internet. (Spice it up by inputting things neither of you has tried before. Who knows where this will lead?)

Having problems finding common interests with your spouse? Yes, I think you can solve them with a piece of paper or a few clicks. And some time and thought. Oh, and the commitment to work on your friendship and to love your spouse because of your differences, not in spite of them. You got this!

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How to Keep the Election from Ruining Your Marriage

You may feel differently about politics, but that doesn't have to change how you feel about each other.

Finally. After endless campaign ads, talking heads, polls and vote counting, the election is over. Now you’ve gotta figure out how to move forward and keep the election from ruining your marriage, especially if you live in a house divided.

One of you may be gloating over your candidate’s victory. But your spouse is licking his or her wounds, wondering how the nation will survive the next four years.

You CAN Keep the Election from Ruining Your Marriage

There’s probably an elephant or a donkey in the room nobody really wants to talk about. How will you navigate marriage in the midst of big political differences?

  • First word of advice: be nice and kind. When our kids start playing sports, most parents drill into their kids, “Nobody likes a sore loser and nobody likes a gloating winner.” You can feel strongly about your stance and still be generous in the way you love and care for one another.
  • Remember that your spouse is a multifaceted human being. Rarely do we look at a person and decide we can’t get along with them based on one aspect of who they are. 
  • Make a list of all the qualities you love about your spouse so that on the particularly challenging days you can refer to it. Let it remind you there’s a difference in how you feel about politics and how you feel about your spouse.
  • Make sure you’re having more positive than negative interactions when you are together. Research indicates a ratio of five positives for every one negative will keep your relationship in the green zone.
  • If you’ve been able to have civil conversation about politics in the past, but feel like things are too electrically charged right now, set some boundaries around what you will and will not have conversations about.
  • Be intentional about making time for fun together. Doing things you both enjoy together typically brings about smiles, laughter and playfulness between the two of you. On the inside your brain is releasing dopamine, known as the “feel-good” hormone. It boosts your mood and makes you want to spend more time together because you associate that time with your spouse in positive ways and you want to repeat it.
  • Guard against taking his or her political perspective as a personal affront against you. Family, religion and region of the country where they were raised are all factors contributing to a person’s political leanings. It likely has nothing to do with you, so your best move is to not engage.
  • Focus on what you DO have in common. It’s just human nature to pay attention to what divides you, but it’s really in the best interest of your marriage to consider all you agree on. Chances are great there is more that unites you than divides you in your relationship. 

When you get down to it, you probably both want what’s best for our country; you just disagree on what exactly that is and the best way to get there. It’s likely true you both want what’s best for your relationship, too. Keep in mind, while elections come and go, you married each other for the long haul. When your marriage matters more than who wins or loses in the election, your marriage becomes the winning team.

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

You may find yourself in the spot where you and your spouse don’t have much in common in the way of interests or hobbies. Maybe you think you have nothing in common. And you may wonder, should I care about my spouse’s interests? If I don’t share my spouse’s interests, does that mean I don’t care about my spouse? Just how important is it to care about what they like to do??

Let me tell you about my situation. I fish. It’s what I do. My wife, not so much. Actually, not at all. 

But I will tell you what my wife does do. She recognizes when I need to de-stress, and says, “Babe, you need to go fishing.” 

Here’s my point: She does not at all share in my love of fishing. But she cares for me enough to support my love of fishing. 

There are two bottom lines here. The first is, if you care about your spouse, you will naturally care about their interests. (Notice, I didn’t say you will share in them.) 

Here’s why it’s essential:

  • Your spouse’s interests (assuming they’re healthy interests) are what helps them be a better version of themselves. How fulfilled do you feel when you’re doing something you like? Do your interests give you a sense of meaning and identity? Of course. That’s why you take part in your interests. Your spouse feels the same way. 
  • Your spouse’s hobbies help them to practice self-care. Whether it’s fishing, scrapbooking, running, cooking, reading, or yard work, our interests serve to bring our stress and anxiety levels down a few notches. It’s part of how we maintain our mental health. What your mate does for fun allows them to de-stress and unwind.   
  • Your spouse’s interests help them to be a better spouse and parent. Add up the two previous points, and your spouse is in a better position to be what they need for your family. 

The second bottom line is this: caring about your spouse’s interests doesn’t mean you have to share those interests. 

There are ways to show care for your spouse and support them in their interests without feeling the need to invest waist-deep in those activities yourself.

Here are some possibilities: 

  • Encourage them to do what they enjoy doing in times of stress or anxiety. You know your spouse. You can tell when they need a break or just a mental health tune-up. Like anyone else, sometimes they may need a reminder that doing something they love is just what they need at that moment. 
  • Affirm and compliment them in their interests. When I catch a fish I’m proud of, I take a picture and send it to my wife. The truth: she couldn’t care less about how big a fish I caught. But she always compliments me on it and tells me, “Good job! Way to go! You are such a studly fisherman!” (Okay, I made that last one up, but I’m sure that’s what she’d say.)  Let your spouse know you like them doing what they like doing. 
  • Participate as a “one-time experience.” Your spouse may feel supported if you participate once in what they like doing, understanding it’s not a regular thing. The outdoors may not be your thing, but joining your spouse on an easy hike, just this once, can show them your support. The point here isn’t that you’re going to try to love cooking, but that you love being with your spouse. And all this without the pressure of requiring yourself to take up hiking every weekend.
  • Allow your spouse to be the expert. I love it when my wife asks me something about fishing because it allows me to tell her all I know about it. Truthfully, she may not remember the difference between a spinning rod and a fly rod. But she cared enough to ask me about something I love doing that I know she doesn’t love. 
  • Encourage growth in their interests. Part of the joy of having hobbies is they give you something to grow in knowledge and skill. It feels good to improve your ability to camp, sew, do woodworking, or paint. You are in the position to be your spouse’s biggest cheerleader with this. 

You can offer lots of care and love for your spouse without feeling the need to take on a hobby you have no interest in.

I’d encourage you to share an honest conversation about the interests you share and don’t share. ✦ Don’t forget! Carve out time to do things together you both love to do. No matter what, be sure to let them know you love them loving what they love to do as well. 

5 Things You Should Have In Common With Your Spouse

Marriage can thrive even when you are different.

How much do I need to have in common with my spouse for our marriage to be healthy and happy? Do we need to like all the same things for this to work? 

These are valid questions faced by many engaged or newly-married couples. We all want to be compatible with our partner, we want to share interests and likes, but do we need to have everything in common? 

You should have some things in common with your spouse, but it doesn’t have to be everything. There is beauty in our differences. Marriage thrives even when we are different.

Here are some things you should have in common with your spouse:

Goals.

It is vital to have some shared goals, such as family size and career aspirations. You don’t want to get three years into marriage to find out you have different plans for children. You also don’t want your marriage to suffer because one person desires to climb the corporate ladder while the other does not. It doesn’t mean you both need to be ambitious in your career, but you need to discuss those ambitions and have a common goal that addresses what you both want. The same goes for family goals.

Values.

Values are critically important as you are establishing your marriage. When you share common values such as honesty, loyalty, transparency, faith, etc., you have a foundation upon which to build your marriage. You don’t have to share all the same values, but you need to share core values. 

Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously.

I’m gonna share a secret with you. Ready? Marriage is hard. Doing life with someone isn’t easy. Injecting humor into the relationship helps alleviate stress. Have a shared understanding of what humor is. Do you see humor as jokes, pranks, sarcasm, goofiness? Talk about what humor means to each of you and make sure you are on the same page. You don’t want one spouse’s humor to be insulting to the other. A fun marriage is a happy marriage.

Boundaries.

Boundaries are crucial to your marriage, but what are boundaries? Think of a guardrail on the highway. Why is it there? To keep you out of the ditch. Boundaries work the same way. Do you both have the same boundaries on opposite-sex friends? This will be huge for your marriage. Talk about it now. Here is a resource for you: How to Talk to Your Spouse About Opposite-Sex Friends.

Friends and Family.

Friends and family are important. Have a conversation early about this. Do each of you continue to maintain all of your friendships and habits with friends? Do you come to an agreement about how often each of you hangs out with friends? Where does family fall in your marriage? Family is important, but the family you are building is more important. Agree on some common boundaries for friends and family that keep your marriage at the forefront.

Help! My Spouse and I Have Nothing in Common

We’re Total Opposites! Can Our Relationship Work?

5 Things To Do When You Feel Disconnected From Your Spouse

You and your partner aren’t going to have everything in common, and that’s okay. Relationships can thrive in our differences. Your marriage will be fuller when you both embrace what makes you unique. You should have some things in common with your spouse, talk about these, and lay the groundwork for a happy, healthy marriage.

For more marriage resources, check out our Marriage Shop.

When I first started dating my husband 32 years ago (but who’s counting?), the first thing I noticed about him besides his legs was how different we were from each other

I was concerned we didn’t have many things in common. Would this be a stumbling block to our future marriage? 

Now, I see the benefits. I see how not acting the same, not thinking the same, interacting with others exactly the same, or even having a whole lot in common became a strength in our marriage, not a problem. The things we didn’t have in common caused us to respect each other and support each other better. I had to stop myself from continually thinking we had to have everything in common. I realized the words from Jerry Maguire were absolutely wrong. It’s not about seeking to complete each other, but learning to complement each other despite differences.

Here are some things you and your spouse DON’T need to have in common:

1. Personality

From the very beginning of our relationship, my husband and I were and are different. He liked Lakers’ Showtime of the ’80s while I was a fan of the Bad Boys of Detroit. I loved pro-football, and he was a big college football fan. I am an extreme extrovert who loves being around many people. At the same time, he is much more comfortable around a small group of close friends. Neither one of us is right or wrong. Instead, we learned to respect and embrace our differences.

2. Common Interests and Activities

Many couples struggle with the idea that they must spend “all their time together.” Yes, you and your spouse need to spend intentional quality time together. You don’t need to spend every waking moment together or have all your interests and activities in common. While you are a part of a couple, it’s vital for you as an individual to grow and develop. The key is to support your spouse in their activities. I enjoy reading. My husband—not so much. It makes me feel loved and valued when he goes to a bookstore with me while I just wander around. Or he takes care of our family while I head to a bookstore. In both cases, he is demonstrating his care and support for me and my interests.

3. Family/Cultural Background

Although my husband and I come from the same racial & ethnic background, our families are very different. My family is composed of biological family and friends that become family. His family was basically made of his immediate family, aunts, uncles, and biologically-related cousins. It doesn’t matter if you come from a single-parent family with one child or a large family with several children. You could have been born in Georgia while your spouse is from Utah. As long as you recognize and appreciate what you each bring to your relationship, it will not suffer because of your cultural differences.

4. Political Beliefs

As a young adult, I watched James Carville and Mary Matalin work for 2 different presidential campaigns. I watched how they disagreed politically yet didn’t let it negatively affect their relationship. Political beliefs are deeply felt and long-standing. Allowing your spouse to hold their opinions, which differ from yours, causes us to create spaces of patience, understanding, and civility. 

5. Housekeeping and Organizational Skills

As someone who is organizationally challenged, I am grateful that my husband and I don’t have this in common. If we did, we might have ended up on “Hoarders.” (Not really…). For him, everything has a place. For me, as long as I can find it, I’m good. The key is to respect each other and not mandate your spouse to change to be exactly like you. Remember, it’s about complementing each other, not making a clone.

Help! My Spouse and I Have Nothing in Common

We’re Total Opposites! Can Our Relationship Work?

★ For a long time, I wanted him to act like me, like the same things I liked; be involved with the same activities. I thought it would make our relationship better if we liked ALL the same things. I now understand and respect our differences. The fact that we are not the same and see things differently makes us STRONGER. We lovingly and consistently challenge each other to see old things in a new and unique way. 

No matter where you are in your relationship, it’s vital to love and accept your spouse for who they are without spending all of your energy worrying you don’t have things in common.

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***