Dear Dr. Hurd,
My husband and I have been together for ten years. We enjoy socializing with our coupled friends, but we find that we often like one member of the pair more than the other. To make it worse, we sometimes disagree about which of the spouses we like better. Is there some formula we can follow to get this right?
Dr. Hurd replies,
The magic formula is this: You’re expecting too much.
Think about it. Why do couples come together? To some extent, it’s because opposites attract. People with different personalities are drawn together for what the other lacks, personality-wise.
Nontechnical people are often drawn to technically competent ones. Empaths are drawn to thinkers. Outgoing people are attracted to wallflowers, etc.
One of the great things about a relationship is that you enjoy certain qualities in your spouse that you might not possess yourself. There are always exceptions, but it stands to reason that any couple you encounter will include one person with more of the qualities you admire.
So here it comes (fasten your seatbelt): Your time is precious. Life should be productive and fun. You (or your husband) are not obligated to waste precious moments with people whom you don’t enjoy.
Of course, you can’t be entirely rigid about this, but if there are opportunities to do one thing with one member of the couple, then each of you might consider doing that.
‘Oh, you like macram I like it too, but Joe can’t stand it. Let’s whip up a hammock sometime while the others go shopping.’ Of course you have to be careful not to deliberately exclude people or hurt their feelings unnecessarily, but Joe will probably be more than happy to go shopping after he hears about that hammock.
Where is it written that you must do everything as a couple? If you and your husband love your time together and don’t get enough of it, then fine. That’s not rigidity; it’s simply what you prefer.
But it is rigidity when you do things because you feel you’re ‘supposed’ to, and for no other reason. In business they refer to ‘thinking out of the box.’ The same applies to personal relationships. Don’t box yourself in.
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