Date Night

I’m a big believer in couples date night.  It’s very easy to stop looking at your partner as a friend/lover/person when you become enmeshed in household things.  Once you’ve seen a guy floss his teeth or scrub a toilet, a little bit of the macho allure is gone, so you need something to remind you why you fell in love with someone.

Enter date night.

Our goal is three date nights a week (though technically, we love date afternoons) There is usually one meal, one activity, and one outing with at least one other couple.  The meal is our time to talk – our rule is we do not talk about our daughter or anything household related, unless it’s something fun.  This is not the night for airing of the grievances or reminding each other to change a lightbulb.  The activity gives us a shared experience and lets us help each other if needed.  Or laugh at each other- we each have strengths and weaknesses, and I’m sorry, but it’s really funny to see my Husband try to shoot at arrow at archery.  And the couples outing is just fun because it gives us a chance to socialize with other adults.

Back in April, we were scheduled to go to an off-Broadway play.  Four days before the play, my Husband said:

“Can we invite my Father to the play with us?”

I was not amused.  First off, it was supposed to be our “date”, but the one for just the two of us.  You all know I don’t do well with change.  Secondly, I wasn’t up for a family outing.  My FIL is trying under the best of circumstances: bringing him to a tight 50 seat theater in Greenwich Village to see an Agatha Christie play was just not going to work.  Thirdly, even though it’s off Broadway, the tickets are still pricey, and I’m cheap.  There were other things I’d rather spend the money on.

But

How horrible do I look if I tell my Husband that I don’t want him to include his Father for an outing.

So I thought about it.

And I told Husband that I didn’t want him to include his Father.  I was honest in a situation I felt I needed to be honest in. Husband was not pleased. An then we were both annoyed with one another.

Were we honest with one another? Yes.

Did honesty help? Not really.

This is one of those relationship situations were we both wanted different things.  Was I wrong to not want my FIL included?  Ten people will give you ten different answers to that question.  All I can go by is how I felt, and I made that clear to him.

Was he wrong to ask to include his Father in our plans?  Again, ten people will answer that question differently.  But he told me what he wanted, and that’s the cornerstone of a relationship, communication.

Did communication help us in this situation?  Did honesty help us?

Unfortunately, relationships are going to have moments like this, where the participants are playing by the “rules”, but they’re sort of playing with the parameters of the rules.  They think they are “asking”, when really, they’re “telling”.  Though the words were “Can I ask my Father”, the message behind it was really “I’m asking my Father”.  I wasn’t expected to say no, so when I said “No” I switched the rules.  Yes, I’m supposed to be honest and tell him my feelings, but I wasn’t supposed to say no there (well, in his mind anyway)

Alas, there is no rule book for how to handle situations like this.  Couples muddle through the best they can.  They hope the fights and annoyances can be forgiven and forgotten, or at least put to the back burner. But you have to be careful how you recover.  Remember, in relationships, it not so much the transgression, it’s about how you recover.  Did Husband and I recover from this incident?

Well, the day of the play was the day I began my long journey into pneumonia, so maybe there will be a post or two about how those three weeks played out…

 

 

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How Do I Put This?

There are about a thousand ways I can approach todays blog topic, because it brings up some observations about me, my personality and my relationships.  When I figure out how to discuss it, you guys will be the first to know.

I am a fairly organized, type A sort of person.  I know- I just revealed a fact you did not know.  The majority of my friends are like me:  we plan things months in advance, we deal with lists and our planners are never far from us.  I have one friend who is not a planner, but she understands my not so laissez faire attitude, so she adjusts a little for me (the very definition of good friend).  I surround myself with like minded people.  And lets face it- I live in a city not really known for its laid back attitude.  There’s a whole bunch of people here just like me, and actually, much more organized than I am.  Ok- so here’s point 1.

My Husband is somewhat type A like me- he likes things organized and planned out.  However, he is not actually a planner.  He hates the actual task of organizing.  He continually double books himself  because he makes plans and either doesn’t write them down, or doesn’t check his calendar before he makes new plans. ( I have many fun and interesting stories about having to play plan Jenga after he’s successfully booked us/him at four different things on the same night)  Now, since my Husband is technically type A-, his friends are a little more varied:  he has friends that are total planners, and friends that just go were the mood takes them, who live life with a devil may care attitude.

This past month, this cause some problems.  We made plans with a couple, S and R, a month ago.  They wanted to do something fun, I suggested a Motown Revue at a club, they agreed.  I bought tickets.  A month ago.

Two days before the event, S calls my Husband and says, “Wouldn’t it be fun to go to a comedy show at X?” Which would be great if A) I hadn’t already bought tickets for the music revue, and B) the comedy show wasn’t sold out already, cause everything in this city sells out in advance. (side note- if a New Yorker is walking down the street and sees a long line, the New Yorker will often just join the line because they assume whatever it is is worth waiting for.  That’s how we found the absolute best cream puffs ten years ago).

I was irrationally angry that S wanted to change plans right before game day.  My feeling is, if you want to go to comedy, just say that in the beginning.  A type like me sees that behavior as passive aggressive, whether or not it actually is.

We had a similar situation with R.  R was throwing a surprise birthday party for his girlfriend.  He gave us the date a month in advance.  No problem.  I blocked it out in my calendar.  Problem was, until two days before the party, we didn’t know where, or what time the party was.  This was after my Husband texted the guy at least six times.  When he finally got back to us, we realized the party was not in Manhattan- we would need to take a railroad.  Which runs on a schedule.  Meaning to be there for the “Surprise” we would have to be on a certain time train.  Which conflicted with afternoon plans that I had.

Now I figured out how to make all the plans work- I did the whole arrange the puzzle pieces thing.  And on Saturday morning, the day of the party, we get a Facebook invitation.  R is having a SECOND party for his girlfriend, and it’s DOWN THE BLOCK from our apartment.

I was not happy.

Of course, it took 30 seconds for me to realize I have something else to do the night of the 2nd party.  It took my Husband 20 minutes to figure out he had something the same night as well.

But, we figure it out, you know, putting all of our brain power into it- cancel Saturday, figure out how to work in 2nd party, etc.

So tonight is the night of the second party.  I also have a meeting tonight that I need to go to.  When I told two of my friends that I was going to race out of the meeting as soon as it’s adjourned, one of my friends said

“You shouldn’t go to the party.  Tell your husband there’s no need to go cause it’s not your friend.  Why should you go to the party anyway?  You already have plans.  You knew about this meeting.”

I told her that this was something I had to fit in, etc, and she argued why I didn’t need to go, etc., and though she made valid points, I knew I had to fit in both.

And this brings me to the next conundrum:

What’s the line for what events you should attend with your spouse?

I am really independent, and I give my husband a really long leash.  He goes on ski weekends without me, yearly guys trips, and attends many parties without me. (for the record, I hate large gatherings.  i hate introducing myself.  I hate small talk)  I am most definitely not the tag along spouse.

But…

I think there are some events I must attend.  This not so great planning guy is actually one of my Husband’s closest friends.  I often see him socially.  This is a party I would feel bad about not attending because the friend is a good guy.  I had to figure out how to make this work.

So, in my longest and most convoluted post ever, here’s the questions:

  1. Can planners and non planners be friends?
  2. Do you need to attend every event as a couple?
  3. Do you need to book things a month in advance?

Thanks for listening to this weeks dilemma!!

 

Love is Easy- Marriage is Hard

Today is my anniversary.  Sixteen years ago the husband and I stood under a flower strewn gazebo in a non-descript hotel in Vegas and exchanged vows.  And what a ride it has been.  This is not my first rodeo- I was previously married- but that obviously didn’t end well, so here’s some things I have garnered from my life experiences.  These are totally my opinions – not researched or scientific by any means.  And this is really not advice- it’s my thought and musings on the subject of marriage.

1) All marriage’s are different.  Do not judge anyone else’s union.  (To be clear, I am not talking about marriages that are marred by any kind of abuse- that is a subject I am not qualified, nor wish, to discuss) Every marriage is made up of two distinct individuals- how they choose to merge the two halves is entirely their business.  Do not judge. Do not give unsolicited advice.

2) Remember- you are married to an individual before all else.  Yes- there are always outside influences, but make sure you consider what is best for you and your spouse. (My friends Mother has been hinting that she wants to move in with my friend and her husband.  She loves her Mother, but knows there is no way her 28 year marriage could survive that)

3) When making decisions, compromise is always a good path to follow.  But sometimes, one person has to have their choice, even is their partner doesn’t entirely agree.  If no one ever gets exactly what they want, both people are going to be continually dissatisfied.  How do you think your life plays out if you feel like you compromised on every decision?

4) Choose your battles.  Is it really worth arguing about a duvet cover?  Stick to the things that are truly important to you.

5) It’s OK to go to bed angry.  Yes- I said it.  All fights can’t be fixed with an 11pm deadline.  Sometimes you need to think about something.  Sometimes you need to cool off.

6) Life is not tit for tat.  Things are not always fair.  I don’t mean that each half shouldn’t pull their weight in a relationship. Both partners must assume responsibility for all aspects are their lives- but sometimes one person has to take the lead.  If you’re tallying up hours worked, how strong is your relationship anyway?  Is that how you want to spend your time- “Hey- you only unloaded the dishwasher twice last week.  You owe me 1 1/2 unloads.

7) If you’re angry, consider taking a time out.  Five minutes in the corner could stop you from saying things you will regret the moment they come out.

8) Being a parent is stressful and hard.  Having children will not save a marriage in trouble.

9) Money is nice, and one needs it for basic survival- but just because you have money doesn’t insure happiness or a successful marriage.  It will insure a long and complicated divorce though.

10) Don’t compare your spouse to anyone else.  Ever.

11) In-laws.  I could write a book.  They are harder and more stressful than children.

As to my anniversary, the Husband and I will be going out to dinner.  Not something fancy- we will be getting cheeseburgers at a place I’ve wanted to try.  I think cheeseburgers are the best thing ever invented, and my goal is to try as many as possible over the course of my life.  This is romantic to me.  This  is special.  To me and the husband.  Others would disagree.

We will not be exchanging gifts.  I don’t need jewelry or an expensive trinket to mark the day.  I would rather allocate the funds to experiences- things that we can do throughout the year.  Instead of a pricey piece of jewelry, I would rather go to the theater, or take a couples cooking class, or do something that creates a memory.  Memories are more important to me.

It’s nice to highlight a special day.  But you need to create other special days in your married life.  Since our last anniversary, I remember our trying Sri Lankan food for the first time, and loving it.  I remember concert and plays.    Painting class and wine tasting.  Backgammon games and dart games.  Walks around Manhattan looking for wave sculptures.  Staring at sunsets.  And all sorts of other things.  Because being married means trying to make every day count- giving it your all.  Because being married takes work.  Because loving someone is easy- but living with them every single day, taking the good and the bad is hard.  And anything worthwhile is hard.