Playing: Couple or Solo
Mrs. AP and I had a night out Friday night with SCS and her boyfriend. Well, I should rephrase: half the night was SCS and several of her other friends, the other half of the night SCS’ boyfriend joined us. He was busy for the first half of the night with an income-producing venture, yet he’s currently without clearance to drive, so SCS provides him transportation whenever such opportunities present themselves.
Mrs. AP and I were both feeling better than we had previously in the month, mostly thanks to rest over the previous few days and a healthy dose of drugs designed to let us behave as normal human beings again. While we’re both rather traditionalist and wary of what substances we ingest, thank goodness for modern medicine!
Over the course of the many discussions held over the evening, one theme became apparent; SCS and her boyfriend quite often live very separate lives. Granted, they’ve only been living together a short while, but it struck Mrs. AP and I as being a bit odd that a committed couple would be relatively heavily involved in having social lives that often do not involve one’s partner. Mrs. AP and I simply do not operate that way.
From the day I moved in with Mrs. AP and her (soon-to-be-ex) husband, it has been a rare occurrence when one of us will deliberately engage in a social activity without the other. Going out for dinner with friends, going out to The Castle, attending a house party, or just going to see a movie have involved the two of us nearly every time. While there have been exceptions, such as Mrs. AP going to Fetish Circuit with a friend or her attending parties as of late without me, those have all come on nights when I’ve been unable to get the night of from work. When I have a day off and one of us gets invited to something, we both go. It’s just how we’re wired.
That’s not to say that neither of us can function without the other. Each of us can and has fully engaged in others before at various functions and events without having to be right on top of the other person. We’re both social when we need be, and neither of us would ever deliberately deprive the other of something dear from lack of personal interest. Each of us wants the other person to be as happy, and to have as good a time as possible. We take joy in seeing our partner enjoy things. It’s how we’re wired. Whereas we do not require the presence of each other to have a good time, we do each feel that any good time we may have will only be enhanced by having our beloved partner nearby.
We find this constantly when scheduling any social plans for any given week. If somebody is having a party on a night when I work, I encourage Mrs. AP to go because I know she’ll have friends there and she’ll appreciate being out of the house and among other (relatively) normal human beings. Conversely, if there’s an event on a night I do not work and she’s been invited, she’ll offer to include me not out of necessity but out of kindness; there’s no reason for me to sit alone with the children while Mrs. AP is gallivanting with friends when I could just as easily join her and we could both have fun.
Granted, studies have shown that having social lives that do not necessarily involve one’s partner can be healthy for the relationship. The Men need “Guy Time” and the Women need “Girls Night Out”, or so several studies and self-help magazines report. This is undoubtedly true for many couples, especially when the two partners have several interests and hobbies that are not shared between the two. However, Mrs. AP and I each have very few interests or hobbies that do not overlap, and in those cases none of those hobbies necessitate being outside the home and away from each other for one of us to indulge. For example, Mrs. AP can be studiously involved in a sewing or knitting project while I’m geeking out over upgrading a piece of software on my computer or phone and we can still share in each other’s presence. It works for us.
Obviously, our style of spending most our possible time together is not going to work for every couple. Some couples simply cannot tolerate the extended continuous presence of one another. Other couples cling so tightly to one another that they leave no room for independent social lives. Such diversity is part of what makes meeting new people so much fun and also what keeps the Couples Counseling field so profitable. There is no cookie cutter solution for making a happy, healthy, long-term commitment work for both partners.
The other common theme of the night for all of us was that we all highly value straightforward, open, honest communication with our partners. SCS and her boyfriend may not always go out to do things together, but they engage constantly about where they’ll be going, with whom they may be spending time, and how much fun is going to be had. They celebrate their differences by encouraging and strengthening the other without depriving each other of the pleasures they each wish to seek. Similarly, Mrs. AP and I nearly always have a “debriefing” after any day or night out, going over what we each enjoyed and disliked about our time out and using that to build toward more enjoyable experiences the next time.
Ultimately, while there is no “one size fits all approach” to building a strong relationship, the core approach of finding a communication style that fits well and allows for growth — together and separately — remains the best tactic.
Stay SINful, friends.