About a week and a half ago, on a Wednesday afternoon, Eric called me at work to ask me what our weekend plans were. Surprised, I reminded him that we were watching our nieces and nephews for a few hours on Friday night, but other than that, the weekend was basically free. This is where the conversation went next:
Me: Why do you ask? Do you have something going on or something?
Eric: Oh no, I just want to be mentally prepped.
If Eric had his way, I think he would spend his entire life holed up at home, with the exception of a semi-weekly trip to Borders (if we still had a Borders) and a daily run to the convenience store (for Diet Pepsi).
Not unlike many men, Eric loves to putter around the house, work on his projects and hobbies, watch his beloved black and white B-movies (Plan 9 from Outer Space is a particular favorite), and in general, live the life that is as close to a hermit as he can manage.
This is quality right here, folks.
If you're Eric, that is.
Back when I was more newlywedded, and not as secure in my wifely-ness as I am now, this propensity for solitude used to be bothersome and upsetting to me. I'm sorry to admit that back in those days, I would drag Eric to social events with friends and acquaintances, more concerned about what his absence might say to my friends (about our marriage) than what my demands might say to him (about my consideration for his feelings). I worried that if we didn't portray the perfect couple, the couple who wanted to cherish every possible moment together, that others might assume that we had chinks in our relationship. Worse, I worried that they would be right.
Fortunately, time passed, I learned a thing or two, and Eric was patient and kind (and not a little long-suffering) while I did so.
These days, my propensity to drag Eric around with me to any social gathering has decreased significantly. Oh, I still hold a few (Eric would say more than a few) "do this because you love me" cards, which I don't hesitate to lay on the table when necessary, but I'm recognizing more and more the need for compromise and negotiation (rather than the old guilt trip strategy) than perhaps I did a few years ago.
That works for us. These days, I frequently attend (or initiate) social/family gatherings alone, or with Heather in tow. I get my outside interaction needs met, and Eric gets his alone time (unless I leave Heather with him, and then he gets "Daddy is #1" time, which he often enjoys even more). These days, when Eric is requested/expected/coerced into attending a gathering, he nearly always remarks (of his own accord) on how much he enjoyed it all, once it's all over, and we are safely on our way home. I remind him of this fact nearly every time he complains pre-event, but he never remembers or believes me.
And that's okay. No one is perfect, after all.
(But let's be honest. For me and for Heather, Eric comes pretty darn close.)