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My husband and I live alone and are very introverted. We have very little social interaction apart from each other and often will go days without talking to anyone else because we work from home.

As a result, we are not accustomed to spending lots of time with other people. To give an idea, an hour or two of conversation is fine, 3-4 hours is pushing it and 5 becomes downright overwhelming. After this I would need a significant period of recovery (at least an hour, ideally two or three).

Nonetheless, we do have guests over to stay. Family members and friends from out of town. We want to see them and we enjoy talking to them and catching up. Recently, however, I have become overwhelmed with the level of social interaction these visits usually have. We had guests this weekend and they will be happy to sit and talk to us for 6 hours. I can, and do excuse myself and have a rest (my husband continues talking and his endurance is better than mine) but even then I can hear the talking and that doesn't help. I am currently exhausted from social interaction.

How do I go about explaining to my guests that I need a break or some alone time?

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Both my husband and the husband of a friend who visits often are similar to you. They take a break whenever they need to, because we know this about them. The visiting husband will sometimes go off for a walk for an hour or two in the peace and quiet of our country neighbourhood. My husband will go to our basement, or to our home office which has a thick soundproof door. Nobody comments on it particularly, unless perhaps it's time to eat and we need to find one of them.

Arrange things so you can't hear them when you need a respite. (Sound absorbing drapes in your bedroom perhaps, or a thick door on your home office.) Or go for a walk, or ask your husband to take them for a walk to show off the changing leaves or the pretty snow or the neighbours' Christmas lights or whatever. Also, depending on who the visitor is, they may be talking simply because no other option is offered. When my friends visit for an evening we talk the whole time. When my mother visits for a few days we talk a lot, but there are also stretches of time where we do our own thing (reading, working, whatever) to recharge. If I say "mind if I pop upstairs for a moment?" she just gets out her book, it's cool. With some visitors we play board games, which are less intense an interaction than just sitting and talking. I know some people also turn on the TV or radio and watch and listen together relatively quietly.

Don't worry about revealing to your guests that you need time spent not chatting. Anyone close enough to you to visit regularly and long probably already knows this about you, and if they learn it for the first time it won't damage your longstanding relationship. It is better to say "I need a little quiet time now" or "I need a little alone time now" than to invent some chore that can't wait - they might end up feeling they are less important than your laundry or whatever, which could hurt their feelings.

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This is a case where more of an explanation is better. When guests are there to stay overnight, it's tough for them to understand "we need some time alone" without a context to go with it.

Visiting is fun, but it can be taxing. Playing cards or board games can break that up. I'd even suggest some activity together, whether it's fixing something up, seeing a movie, or watching TV. Then it's a lot less interactive.

When it hits the point where you are spent, I'd recommend taking turns with your husband. I'd suggest something like, "I really love seeing you guys, but I need to decompress a little bit. If you'll excuse me, I need to read/take a walk/run an errand/watch TV... alone for half an hour to recharge." Then get your batteries reset. After you do that, then I'd suggest relieving your husband. "Hey Dear, thanks for entertaining our guests. I'm up to speed again, do you need to take some time?" That way you show your guests that they matter to you and you want to spend time with them but have a personal boundary you need to maintain.

As you get better acquainted, your friends will get used to this and will come to accept that you need a little time. They may even become supportive and initially may appreciate taking some time themselves.

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