Why He Doesn’t Want To Come Home.

A phenomenon Jon and I have discussed previously, to no great conclusion, was revived by the recent idle drivel coming from the mouth of the UK’s own minor version of Bernie Sanders.

The short form of the matter is that, however much men will joke about “well, it beats being home with the gf/wife”, an increasing number of men actually act on it. They will go drinking right after work, take on overtime, or even go and do an unpleasant job for a friend or relative, relishing the time away from home. And we were stumped. But a little more discussion, insight and thought has led us to a fairly satisfactory answer: he doesn’t want to go home because he has no space there.

Humans may be social animals, but we are also private animals. As fairly reclusive introverts, Jon and I know this more than anyone. And we can see that even the most outgoing of extroverts from time to time withdraws into themselves the same way we need to do on a regular basis. Humans need time and space to think, to be quiet, to work on solo projects and to unwind. For introverts its about recharging, for extroverts it seems more about reminiscing and planning, for ambiverts its a bit of both.

And for most of our lives, we get that time and space. From around seven or eight years old, the point where we begin to see ourselves as a unit of society and socialize more sacrificially, passively and/or empathically, we are granted a right to time and space. We get to walk off on our own, have our own possessions to keep us busy away from everyone else, maybe even our own room if money and culture allow. This is Retreat with a capital R. And we need it. As we grow older, this boundary becomes more defined, even with friends and family. We learn to tell people we want some quiet time, that we’re tired, that we wanted to read a book or watch a show. And we learn that when others say similar things, they also need their space.

For some reason, though, many decide to throw this harmony out of the window when it comes to looking for a mate. My only guess is that it’s based on the same mechanism whereby people will lose weight, learn game, or even join a cult to find a partner. We simply put temporary effort into changing ourselves because we know, consciously or subconsciously, that being better means mixing our genes with better ones.

Some also temporarily give these people their personal space. They don’t have their own room any more. They don’t even have their own bed. They don’t have any space in the house where they can be left alone. They don’t have any time where it is appropriate to say “I just want to read a book right now”. Because they are convinced that they need to hand their whole lives to the other person in order for a relationship to work.

But the problem comes in with that “temporary” clause up there. Just as with spontaneous weight loss, a bit of game or joining a cult, unless your changes genuinely become a core part of you, this effort will melt away as the relationship cements. You will grow tired. You will have days where you don’t want to talk at all, or where you just want to sit down and regather your thoughts after work. You will want your time and space back. And so will your partner.

But in this sort of relationship, nobody makes the first move to letting that happen. All of a sudden, the person they loved and wanted to spend every second with becomes a chain around their ankles. They won’t shut up, they keep walking in on them gaming/reading/listening to music/indulging a hobby, they start pushing to do more things together to “relight the spark”. They both resent this constant presence and paradoxical distance.

And that is why he doesn’t want to come home. Because she is there. She is always there. It isn’t his home. There is no peace, no quiet, no time and space for him. There is no Refuge.

Of course, you needn’t spend any time apart to prevent this situation from developing. Jon and I easily spend every free minute together. He doesn’t have to go to the pub after work and I don’t need a girls’ night out to recover and get some social space. But you have to learn to be alone together sometimes. You have to be quiet, and restful, and minding your own business sometimes. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, but a little peace and quiet goes a long way.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

What are your observations on couples who can’t spend time together? What are the ways you and your partner meet the need for Refuge? Have you tried being alone together?

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.
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How To… build a tradition.

Traditions are an important part of culture, from our nation’s customs to our family’s quirks. But just because something isn’t a family tradition this festive season doesn’t mean it can’t be. There are many reasons to build a healthy tradition among your loved ones:

  1. It promotes bonding.
  2. It increases productivity.
  3. It replaces our rapidly dwindling external cultures.
  4. It takes some focus off consumerism.
  5. It refocuses us on past customs and religious observations.
  6. It gives us a sense of identity.
  7. It gives us a sense of shared identity.
  8. It promotes thankfulness.

There are definitely more, but don’t those alone highlight why we should be cultivating traditions? So if you want to build a tradition, here are some helpful tips.

1: Decide who to share it with.

You can’t just point out a few people and force a new custom on them. Choose people you will spend a lot of the holiday season, every holiday season with. These are probably the people who matter most, so whether it’s just two or three of you or whether your whole volunteering group is involved, make them a priority.

2: Choose something valuable.

If you want to do something every year, don’t go for something that is unproductive or an absolute waste. Try and find something positive. Look out for:

  • Making things.
  • Sharing experiences.
  • Working together.
  • Creating and imagining things.
  • Good feelings.
  • Faith and oneness.

These are good, strong elements of a valuable tradition.

3: Don’t force it.

You can’t just announce you will be doing something every year. Just try and make it happen and adapt the tradition to suit the people, not the other way around.

4: Encourage positively.

Reward participation and help, make the process as much fun as the result and don’t stress or put on the pressure.

5: Do the legwork.

If you’re the one who wants to “make this a thing”, then expect to do almost all the work yourself. Maybe in future years everyone will be looking forward to it and will help out some more, but for now it’s you.

6: Watch it develop.

Once the wheels are turning, your loved ones should be expressing some more interest in the new tradition and suggesting ways of changing, improving or building it. Just watch the bud burst into bloom.

What traditions are there in your family? However big or small, silly or solemn, I’d love to hear them. 🙂

Here’s to a good and wholesome celebration.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

How To… be alone together.

Many relationships seem to suffer from a close contact issue. And a lot of this is because women and men bond differently.

Men bond by sharing experiences, through active contact, whereas women largely bond through conversation and brain-picking.

Which makes sense when you consider that women benefit the most from exploring a man’s status, interests and behaviours before any children are brought into the picture, whereas men enjoy pair-bonding as a small part of a very active life.

The easiest way to bridge this gap in your everyday life is to spend some time, as some men put it, “being alone together”.

1: Find shared interests.

This is much easier when you find something you enjoy together. The idea is to pick something easy that you can sit back and enjoy together without there being any pressure on talking, interacting or generally socializing.

Please make sure you’re actually both interested in it. There’s nothing worse than putting a film on and trying to just relax in silence and having someone speak throughout the entire film.

Suggestions:

-films

-music

-audiobooks

2: Find relaxed solo interests.

If you can’t find a shared interest, find two interests that overlap. Ideally neither should require dead quiet and only one should hog a particular space or item of media.

Suggestions:

-a film and a craft

-a game and some music

-some music and a book

-a game and a book

3: Find some time to yourselves.

Maybe the issue isn’t so much the activities as that you don’t get any peace and quiet. The second the children, work, pets and other duties are out of the way, you’re so short of time you just try and cram everything in.

Instead of using all your time together and every date night actively, try and have a few quiet ones. If you’re feeling stressed and tired, cancel dinner plans and sit in with a pizza. If you’re oversocialized don’t push yourself to talk. The company is golden, but sometimes the active, energetic aspects of time together can be draining.

4: Just relax.

Perhaps you don’t want to do anything particular. Perhaps everything feels like too much.

There’s nothing wrong with curling up together on the sofa or in bed and just relaxing. Appreciate the company, the silence, the touch. Doze off if you want to. A nap doesn’t hurt. Just try and be present, enjoy your partner’s presence and unwind.

And it really is that simple.

Make a little time, find something relaxing and enjoy some peace and quiet in each other’s company.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

How do you enjoy relaxing? Are there any overlaps between your “me time” and your shared interests as a couple? I love hearing how everyone makes these things work… it’s so different for everyone!

Men Bond Over Experience, Women Over Familiarity.

Just another quick one.

I’ve recently observed two types of relationship complaints becoming more common and, having observed silently for a while and then discussed this, decided to write up my answer.

Men’s complaint: “Women want to talk too much and expect me to place weight on silly things like birthdays, colours and her most distant friends’ names.”

Women’s counterpart: “Men just don’t want to talk, don’t take my personal life seriously and don’t seem to mind when I forget important things about them.”

Women’s complaint: “He just wants to go everywhere. I love spending time with him, but is it really a big deal if we don’t go hiking together this weekend?”

Men’s counterpart: “She doesn’t want to do anything with me. How am I supposed to get to know her if she just wants to sit around watching TV? She’s starting to seem boring.”

Those two complaints stem from a fundamental misunderstanding that is summed up in the title: Men bond over experiences. Women bond over familiarity.

Basically, men get closer to people they do things with. This is why so many men go head over heels for a girl who is into their favourite hobbies, why they want to take their girlfriend everywhere and why they want a good girl to meet their friends and family. They like her and want to see how she acts in public and how well she enjoys what he enjoys. This will reveal key elements of her character to him and help him determine how good of a partner she makes. And all this time together will make his love for her grow.

On the other hand, women get closer to people they know things about. This is why so many women place great importance on dates and names, why they like to gossip for long periods of time and why they try and distinguish themselves by cooking a man’s favourite dinner. They like him and want to learn more about him and test his memory of her. This will reveal key elements of his character to her and help her determine how good of a partner he makes. And all this time unveiling the mystery will make her love for him grow.

These patterns are there for a reason. They serve our biological purposes: the man vets the woman for how well-rounded she is as a potential lover and mother, the woman background checks the man for how successful he is in his tribe. And they are very complementary. By remaining mysterious a man can convince a woman to spend more time with him. By spending time with a man a woman can open him up and inspect his character.

But we need to pay attention to them as well, especially when we’re looking at long term relationships.

Girls: I know you might not be massively into his hobbies and you might think that a night in is as good as going bowling. But by indulging his hobby you are telling him that he matters, whilst simultaneously getting to pick his brain. And if he doesn’t want to take you anywhere near his friends or hobbies, that’s a red flag: he doesn’t think you’re worth getting to know.

Guys: I know you might think all these bits of trivia are simple gossip and that it’s OK to forget a date or two. But by remembering a few select things about her you can keep her happy that she’s made an impression and you have a better chance of bringing her somewhere nice if you keep a bit of mystery and let her talk about herself and her friends a while. And if she doesn’t remember your birthday or other trivia about you, that’s a red flag: she doesn’t think you’re worth getting to know.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!