Before an outing with another couple Ken and I talk about our expectations. It is crucial for us to communicate before entering a space where good food and drinks can often lead to conversations that potentially bring rise to unresolved issues. What can start as playful banter can quickly turn into a laundry list of your partner's shortcomings and taking passive-aggressive jabs.
Our predate night conversations serve a few purposes.
1. To air out any negative feelings we may have about each other or a recent situation
2. Setting boundaries as to what we are comfortable discussing individually and as a couple
3. Our alcohol consumption
4.What is our time expectation? Couples know. When its time to go...it's time to go.
As open as we appear, Ken and I live a private life. However, we, too, joined the ranks of letting a little too much slip when we would get around couples who we believed would validate our point of view or feelings. Even when the feud was not ours, the air would be thick with an impending argument. We would internalize a couple's issues and find ways to connect the dots back to our life and experiences. Instead of resolving the issue or discussing our problem's root, we would laugh it off. Our famous word to sweep things under the rug is "truce." Calling a truce as a diffuser with the intent to come back to the conversation is a great tool. Calling a truce without intent to follow up is an emotional cop-out. These cop out truces would quietly extend until the moment they didn't.
I do not want anyone to read the above and think it is wrong to feel safe to speak openly with other couples you trust. Ken and I have married and longtime friends that we open up to a bit more than others but the criteria for why is very different and far more intentional. Marriage is an ebb and flow of opening and closing ranks to allow others to share in or exit your shared life. It is vital to be on the same page about how and when that happens.
With anything, Ken and I do not always get it right. We still have moments when a comment goes too far. Or a story we didn't particularly want to share fumbles out over a dinner. We've learned to listen for and appropriately respond to "stop phrases." In the middle of a good time, we can lose sight of our spouse's comfort levels. Stop phrases are a way to clearly and openly communicate discomfort in real-time. Our phrases are unassuming to another couple, but the message is loud and clear when we hear it.
Having other couples to spend time with is a beautiful enhancement to our life. We are grateful for our circle. It is one created with love and respect. Ken and I realize that our marriage is much like our home. We are committed to it being a safe haven, and so we work to secure even the smallest of areas. Our approach to double dating is not meant for everyone but it works for us.
On that note,
Be well; you are worthy,