I Heart Indies

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Dating People Versus Married People

I'm in Philadelphia as I write this.  Nancy's on an extended business trip, and since I've never seen the cradle of liberty (or is that Boston?) I came to join her for the weekend, and we're going to do all the touristy stuff.  We're on a date.  I won't go into details, but there's something invigorating and naughty-feeling about being with your wife in a strange hotel room, and it made me think about the difference between being married and dating.

I admit to being an inveterate eaves-dropper in public paces.  I love hearing one side of enigmatic phone conversations, I like observing petty familial arguments, but the most amusing thing for me is watching people on dates.  I can tell precisely how many dates a couple have been on.  The first date is like sparring in a boxing match: they're feeling each other out - it's awkward and artificial.  Later dates lose their awkwardness, but they remain just as artificial.  When people are dating, they put on their best selves for each other.  They're more interested in what each other has to say.  They laugh at each others' jokes.  They work at coming up with fun stuff to say to each other.  They smile.  They strive to send the message, "Stick with me, and I'll make the world one sweet song."  They believe the other person will make life one sweet song for them.

Married people on the other hand, are natural with each other.  They talk, but it's more likely to be about tile grout or the dog's ear infection.  They see nothing wrong with not making eye-contact if there's something more interesting to look at, such as the tv, a newspaper article, or empty space.  They feel free to be critical of each other.  They talk about kids, about bills, about irritable bowls and bunions.  They know life is not one sweet song, that there are plenty of good moments in it, yes, but lots of bad ones, too, and that it's handy having someone at your side through good and bad.

Certainly married people are wiser, and not only wiser but more honest, than first-daters, and that first-date glow can't last, but here's a thought nevertheless.  Once in a while, you don't have to do it often, strive to be the person you were on your first date.  Find your spouse fascinating, try to be fascinating for her, be not only courteous but hyper-courteous, fetch her stuff, ask after her desires.  Praise her.  Look at her.  Smile.

Just a thought.  But think how much fun it would be in a restaurant to make the other tables roll their eyes and think, "First date!"

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