Q My husband and I generally get along well. However, when we return from work, he chooses to read the paper instead of interacting with me. So I’ve started making plans to go out with girlfriends most weeknights after work. We trust each other completely, and it’s his choice to read, so I can’t figure out why he pouts after learning of my plans.
A Given the variety of conversations I have with men and women of different ages and backgrounds regarding their thoughts, feelings, and expectations with respect to relationships, as well as my research into the ideas of published authors and experts in the field, I tend to come across patterns.
One pattern, in particular, may be at play with respect to the issue described in your question. This pattern is discussed by authors/therapists Patricia Love and Steven Stosny in their insightful book How To Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It. A qualifier: All men are not identical in their thinking (just as all women are, likewise, not identical), and there are certainly exceptions to gender-based tendencies.
That said, what may be at play here is a difference in how husbands and wives view security in a spousal relationship. Many husbands tend to view their marriage as a secure base in which to relax and recharge their batteries (as opposed to feeling the need to interact) while sharing the same space as their wives. In other words, the comfort of merely sharing the same space with his wife, without any compulsion to interact directly, is oftentimes relaxing and sufficient in and of itself.
Wives, on the other hand, tend to feel secure as a result of directly interacting with their husbands. Wives tend to relax through the emotional connections they feel while interacting with their husbands.
So, when your husband chooses to read in the evenings instead of directly interacting, perhaps you start to feel a lack of connection which drives you to make plans to connect with your girlfriends instead. When you find it preferbale to engage in lively social interaction with your girlfriends rather than stay home, your husband’s disapproval is understandable, if not justified; it reflects his loss of comfort in not having your presence, even if a passive one, by his side.
Given that you and your husband generally get along quite well, why not brainstorm ways around this issue together? Recognizing this difference in how the two of you define security and comfort may fuel compromises that meet both of your needs.
Jasbina Ahluwalia is a former attorney and the founder of Intersections Match, the only national, personalized, matchmaking firm for singles of South Asian descent. www.IntersectionsMatch.com.