The Art of Couple Friendships
Friendship Times Four
When I peered across the table and saw the look on my husband Robb's face, I knew this would be the last time we would be going out with our dinner partners. She was a new acquaintance I'd made while working on a project in the nearby city of San Antonio; we had great hopes that our husbands would hit it off so that we could see each other more often. We were confident they would be a good fit since they are both staunch environmentalists, but when I heard her husband telling Robb why it was a "mistake" to allow a certain type of grass to grow on our property, I realized I'd misjudged. The man's know-it-all spiel was going down with Robb as well as a mouthful of hot peppers. The man, after all, lived on a half-acre lot in the city, surrounded by cement; my husband had been tending to our 225-acre ranch for more than seven years.
Robb's eyes narrowed listening to the man's lecture, and it was clear, at least to me, that another couple had bitten the dust.
Our trouble finding a couple to go out with is not that we're extremely picky or awful social bores (at least, I don't think so). It's that finding a couple that we both want to spend our precious time with -- and vice versa -- is one of those terribly tricky maneuvers of marriage.
Seeking such a companion couple forces us to endure sometimes bizarre and frustrating rituals that are not much different from dating, only here the chances of failure seem much higher. Just do the math: Four people times four personalities equals countless possibilities for fizzled chemistry. "Good friendships are rare phenomena in any case," says Judith Sills, PhD, a Philadelphia-based psychologist. "Good couple friendships are rare phenomena squared."