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When you're dating, it's almost supposed to be go-go-go. But as you settle into a comfortable rhythm and into a marriage, many couples find one partner is still going like the Energizer Bunny while the other is ready for long-term rest and relaxation.
A difference in your social schedules "can be a major stressor, especially if one person in the relationship feels like he or she are being slighted or cannot have the kind of social world they want," explains Ramani Durvasula, Ph.D., licensed clinical psychologist and professor of psychology at California State University Los Angeles. "While some of this may get sussed out during the dating phase, the rhythms of marriage and living together can bring these patterns to the surface in a very different way. It can cause strife, arguments, resentment — all very challenging issues in a marriage."
The good news is you can sync your social schedules and avoid unnecessary conflict. "As with anything, start by communicating about it," says Rachel Needle, Ph.D., clinical psychologist in Palm Beach, Florida. "Being open and honest with your partner about your needs and what's important to you is critical in a relationship."
With an open line of communication, Needle says, you can begin to find middle ground. "The process of finding that middle ground — when done respectfully and lovingly — can even make the relationship stronger," she says. "Couples can find middle ground on how often they will go out versus how often they will stay home by talking about what events are more or less important to the social partner." Events that fall low on your party-animal partner's priority list can be skipped, Needle says, "or if both are comfortable with it, the more social partner can attend with a friend."
If you, happy as a hermit, decide to go out, don't be sullen, Durvasula says. "Avoid passive-aggressive or underhanded barbs whether you are out or in," she says. And make sure to check-in with one another to ensure that your social needs are being met.
Finally, remember: "Some marriages flourish despite this difference — the partners love each other and also love the different styles of each other," she says. "The homebody may find his or her social partner exciting because it is so different, and the social butterfly may find comfort and solace in their stay at home partner. It's not always a bad thing!"