Gripe #1: What, we have to be together every minute?
When Bob and Renee returned from their honeymoon in Hawaii, he wanted his day-to-day life back more or less the way it was before his free time was consumed with wedding details. Bob expected he would resume going to the gym and hanging out with his buddies a few times a week after work. He even decided to take up a new, time-consuming hobby—performing magic tricks.
Renee was amazed. She'd become happily accustomed to the togetherness of planning and enjoying their wedding and honeymoon, and she couldn't understand why he didn't want to spend all their non-work time together now that they were married.
Opposites attract, explains Edward Shea, M.S.W., a relationship coach in Elmhurst, Illinois. Bob is what Shea calls "the distancer," the person in the relationship who requires lots of space, while Renee is "the pursuer," the one who craves constant connection.
Why wasn't this a problem earlier? Although they've likely always fit into those roles, couples are often in a starry-eyed, romantic phase during their dating and engagement periods. The difference may not have surfaced, or may have been obscured by their affection for one another.
But although that love fest may have toned down Bob and Renee's true colors, it didn't change them, says Shea. If you've married a distancer, don't expect a dramatic shift post-vows. "This is going to be a dance the two of you do for a long time," says Shea.
What the couple can do: Renee should be clear and straightforward about what she wants from Bob. If making dinner together most nights and going out on a real "date" at least once a week is enough "together time" for her, she should ask for it.
At the same time, Bob needs to be reassured that he needn't give up all his non-Renee activities—in fact, it's healthy for both of them to pursue their own outside interests and friends. But he must also make an effort to meet his wife's needs.