Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Dating While Married: 101

The other day, as I sat in the kitchen excitedly telling Brett about a party I was planning once our house was settled and not a war zone, I started reciting the guest list before I stopped mid-count, crestfallen.

"Oh no." I said.

"Oh no what?" He dryly responded without looking up from his paper. "Oh no this is going to be expensive?"

"Oh no- we have no friends." I shot back.

"We have friends, Melissa."

"Ok. List them."

Brett leaned back and started rattling off 3 couples we knew in Pittsburgh. And then he faltered.

"See? 3 couples. Which is great. I love them a lot. But, we basically know 6 people in Pittsburgh. 6."

"If you include us, it will be a party of 8." He wisely returned. "And everyone knows that parties of 8 are the best kind of parties. And besides? Why are you so concerned with numbers? Is this a popularity contest?"

"Well, if it is, we're losing." I grumbled.

"Oh my God."

"No, it's not that. Its- ok. Think about how exhausting I can be, right? And we have 3 sets of friends- which means they will be in heavy rotation. And will have to deal with us, ok, me- 1/3 of the time. Which could be pretty frequent once the holiday season ramps up. And we want to keep these friends, right? So- wouldn't we be a much more desirable social option for them if they only had us in small shifts? Or our presence was diluted with the addition of a lot of other people around us? At our upcoming party?"

"Again. Oh. My. God."

"It's basic mathematics. And science. And"-

"Craziness." He cut in.



When we lived together in California, we had a vibrant and colorful social circle of very dear friends. We all attended endless dinner parties, concerts, birthday celebrations, work celebrations, and one or two 3am dance parties in our living room together. A lot of these friends were couples- which can be a great thing to have as you all traverse the sometimes confusing and unfamiliar terrain of marriage. One by one these couples moved away- and we were left behind. When we moved too, we had to start all over again. And it was like dating. Couple dating.

We'd dress for these "dates" and frantically adjust one another's clothing with frantic assessments. "That dress is a little low for a first dinner, no?" Brett would ask.

"Oh God. I didn't think of that. You're right. I wouldn't want to give the wrong impression. Glasses or no glasses?"

"Definitely glasses. Do you like this shirt?"

"It's purple."

"I know. You're right-too much. Blue?"

"Better. But, unbutton the top. You don't want to appear uptight."

"Ok. So, let's go easy on the wine tonight. I'll drive, but we don't want to seem sloppy."

"Ok. But, I LOVED that one couple that got super drunk. It was hilarious."

"We're thinking long term, though. Let's be ourselves- but the best part of ourselves."

"Like, the fancy part?"


While this conversation isn't word-for-word accurate- it is pretty damn close. And we'll navigate through the date much like you would a first romantic date. We'll ask questions about family, education, background, hobbies. I'll always throw in questions about kids after my second glass of wine, and we'll gossip in the car after on the way home- trading notes.

Sometimes the husbands will hit it off while the wife will eye me warily through the entire dinner. Which only makes me drink more and try harder, and that never ends well. Sometimes I will become best friends 4-EVA with the wife and the husbands will awkwardly talk about sports with little enthusiasm. And sometimes- sometimes- we hit it off so well with BOTH parties, we cannot contain our excitement.

And then the nervous oh-my-God-how-can-we-make-them-like-us-forever panic sets in. At least for me. Brett is decidedly more chill about these social arrangements.

There was a time recently where we hit the couple jackpot. During our summer in Ohio, we met this amazing couple: Natalie and Scott. Natalie and I HIT IT OFF and I fell in love with her instantly. We were at an orientation for the company our husbands worked for, and as we chatted happily over dinner, I noticed Brett and Scott hitting it off as well. I was beyond excited and later that night bounced on our hotel bed as I recited everything I really like about the two of them.

"She's pretty and funny and smart and Scott is funny and smart and Natalie laughed at all my jokes and didn't look at me weird when I ordered a second drink-"

"They are great, Melissa. But you didn't exactly let Natalie talk all that much."

"But, she did! She was laughing! A lot! That is very much like talking."

"She was laughing because you launched into your nervous stand up comedian routine."

"You're no fun. I only told a few jokes."

"You told every joke you know- but they are funny. Let's email them tomorrow. Too soon?"

"I already got her number and have texted her 3 times, so..."

"Oh God."

I have no doubt that Brett and I will "date" successfully in Pittsburgh. After all, we have met 3 couples that seem to like us both, and we'll do everything to continue to make those commitments work. Maybe I'll go out and buy them all flowers. Maybe I'll send a "I'm thinking of youuuuu!" text.

Maybe that is entirely weird.

While the only person I really need is my husband- sometimes it is nice to sit with another couple, Linger and laugh over dinner, trading stories and dreams and hopes for the future.

And have a 3am dance party in your living room. You know, to keep things spicy.

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