They enter a room and the people, sounds, and scents swamp the HSP; they can easily feel crowded, overloaded, and confined. They process information that most people filter out and soon the sensations wear them out – this is the Highly Sensitive Person.
At first blush it appears a strange topic for marriage coaching, but if you are married to one, understanding an HSP is a must. Here are a few tips for living with an HSP spouse, child, or loved one.
Beware of throwing too much information at an HSP. They process all the information and tire quickly. Give him/her bite sized chunks – and ask them to define a bite sized chunk.
Protect your HSP spouse. They wear out at parties and struggle with small talk, so stick with them for a while. The description in paragraph one happens each time they enter a new situation, especially a party. Laura sticks with me (I’m an HSP) at a party until I feel comfortable. And before the party we discuss departure, I tire in half the time as she.
Discuss new things. HSPs dislike surprises, so if you want to surprise him with a new restaurant for his birthday, hold the surprise and talk it out in advance. To an HSP a surprise is not an adventure but an enervating task; while a new restaurant may invigorate you, it fatigues the HSP.
Oasis. HSPs needs a quiet place to recharge; help your spouse find one. During a loud family gathering allow her to get away to recoup even for five minutes. Often at a birthday party I will duck out to the backyard or kitchen to pace myself.
HSPs are normal people, they just process information other people filter out. That makes them tire quickly. If your spouse complains about feeling overwhelmed, see if they are an HSP. Every sight, sound, smell, even humidity and temperature get processed. So when you do something with your HSP spouse consider their situation. When they tire, get frustrated, or want to leave a situation, it is not due to you; but to the fact that they are overwhelmed and need to get away. Understanding an HSP can help you avoid arguments and misunderstanding. The up side is that they can sense problems and use compassion.