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.
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…