When my wife and I first met, we lived in Utah. We both grew up there, so we had a lot of old friends around, and 90% of the time, I hated double dates with my wife’s friends, and I’ll tell you why. We’d go out to eat, and she’d sit on one side of the table, chatting it up with one of her old friends about high school, parents, siblings, or whatever. And on the other side of the table, I’d be stuck getting to know that woman’s husband.
Let me give you some examples. There was her best friend from junior high. She went on to marry this man with very strong conservative convictions that didn’t line up at all with my own. Then she started to adopt them, and suddenly I’d spend an entire evening looking at the table, doing everything I could to block them out so I wouldn’t go off on a tirade.
There was the couple who lived in a small town and never had one single interesting thing to say.
There was the couple she knew from work work. Mel and the couple, all three of them, worked together, so I was faced with being that guy at the table, asking for context every few seconds, destroying the flow of the story, or the guy at the table looking out the window because he has no idea what’s going on.
Not that it was any better for Mel. I mean, I pulled the same moves. My friend Jessica and I grew up together so we’d talk all about our old neighborhood, while Mel had to chat with her wild husband with the bad breath.
Let’s be real, I didn’t look forward to double dates, and I don’t think she did either.
Once we left Utah, we made new friends in Minnesota, and then Oregon, and it didn’t get any better. In fact, it just seemed like we met the same cast of characters, only in a different state.
To get two married couples, four unique people, in a room, and have everyone actually like each other is almost impossible. Even now, after almost 15 years of marriage, I can think of a handful of couples where Mel and I liked both of them and both of them seemed to like us.
And to be honest, I don’t know why we do this to ourselves. I don’t know why we force ourselves into these social situations where one or more members of the party is forced to sit there all night, tolerating someone, or fighting the urge to punch them in the face. Yet here we are.
And it gets even more complicated once you start having children, because then, there are more people in the equation, and sometimes your children just don’t get along with each other. Or their children are out of control despite their parents’ valiant attempts to keep them in check. There was one couple Mel and I both really enjoyed, but their child had this nasty problem of punching my daughter and, frankly, it was a deal breaker.
But what I can say is, that when the gears actually turn, when you find a couple where all married people get along, and all the children get along, it’s one of the most magical parts of adult life.
I can only think of a few of these situations. There was the Grey family. I met them in my undergrad years, and they had to be two of the funniest people I’d ever met. It was so difficult to spend time with them and not laugh. We shared the same religion and the same political leanings, and even now, as I write about them, I can’t help but smile.
Then there’s the Wilsons who are genuinely kind and thoughtful humans willing to help in any situation. And their kids are charming little Harry Potter lovers. I’m 90% sure my son has a crush on their daughter, and it’s adorable to see him blush every time they come over. He even combs his hair, and if you know anything about preteen boys, then you will understand how significant that is.
I’m going to go ahead and assume I’m not alone here when it comes to finding that one couple everyone gets along with. I will also admit that there’s a good chance that I’m the person at the table out of four that no one can stand. It’s just inevitable. But realize if you are agonizing over double dates as a married couple, it’s normal. There is no shame in giving one or more people at the table the side eye. But when you find that one couple where everyone gets along, hold them tight. Spend as much time as you can with them, because frankly, they are a rare gem.
This article was originally published on