Believe it or not, our social lives can be a source of conflict. One partner needs more social interaction, while the other prefers much less. One person thinks the party is on Friday, but the other person is certain they told you Saturday. Throw in limited free time, kids, and other various circumstances, and things can turn into a mess pretty quickly.
One of the keys to navigating this challenge is obvious, but oh so important: clear and honest communication. Here are five things to make sure you’re talking about.
- Your needs and preferences
This might be generally the same for each partner over time or may change day to day. It might sound like, “I’d like to do something social this weekend,” or “After this busy week, I need some quiet time at home.” Even if you have similar social personalities, you might not always be feeling the same need for socializing, so letting each other know verbally gets you on track to make sure both of your needs are being met.
- Plans and logistics
This one’s pretty straightforward, but even the most in-sync of couples can drop the ball on it now and then. (“I told you about this week’s ago!” “No, you didn’t!”) This might sound like, “I’d like to go to happy hour on Thursday with a couple friends, but I can still pick up the kids. Will that work for your schedule?” Create a norm you can both stick to, such as you try to communicate new plans as far in advance as possible, then reconfirm a day or two ahead. Or create a shared calendar and add reminders. Whatever works for you!
- Your expectations
Expectations around our social lives might be broad, such as, “We don’t make outside plans for Sunday evening because that’s family time.” Or they can be more specific to the situation, like, “I expect we’ll only stay at your parents’ for a few hours on Saturday.” Either way, communicating about your expectations and checking in with each other even on the obvious ones can help you avoid unnecessary misunderstandings and conflict.
- What’s important to you
Sometimes you just need your partner to do you a solid. Maybe your company picnic is coming up, and it would really mean a lot to you if your spouse went with you – say that! Or you’re feeling emotionally drained after a stressful week and want your spouse to spend the evening with you at home, tell them. It requires a bit of vulnerability, but being transparent about wanting to spend time together creates a sense of cohesion and an opportunity to support each other.
- Discontent with the status quo
Even if you’re communicating well about your needs, resentment or imbalance can creep in. Sometimes it’s not even about how you’re doing or not doing things, it’s just more of a feeling. Maybe you feel like your partner’s social needs have started to take priority or you just want to switch things up. Whatever it is, share these feelings. It’s the perfect opportunity to compromise or make adjustments as your circumstances and life seasons change.
We’re not going to be perfect at these things. There will still be some missteps, but nailing down the habit of open communication about your social needs and expectations, in addition to the logistical side, can help you both feel that your social needs are being met while also avoiding unnecessary conflict and misunderstandings.