The I Versus the We

Saturday mornings the wife and I generally drink coffee and watch a little tv before the kids get up and the day truly gets started.
This last weekend I wondered out loud why we always seem to end up on HGTV.
“I like HGTV,” she replied.
“I fail to see the I in we,” I volleyed back.
We have been together for almost 17 years so I had a good idea why we were watching HGTV before I even asked. If House Crashers is on she is less likely to ask me to start any of the DIY projects on her list, so I can read the news paper and enjoy the morning Cup of Joe with little interruption. This was a win for my “I”. Let me explain.
It is my theory that the “I” and the “we” in each of us evolves throughout our lives. For the first 12 to 15 years it is, I want this, I want that. Life is focused around the “I”. Then the “I” begins to entertain the notion that the “we” might be nice every once in awhile. Initially the “we” is great for such things as dancing to a slow song or holding hands during a movie. By college the “we” seems to be around more and more, from going to the big game to late night studying for that biology test, if you know what I mean.
Then marriage comes into the discussion and the “I” succumbs to the “we”. That doesn’t mean that the “I” disappears altogether, it just becomes more sneaky. Further light was shed on this last week.
A friend of mine up north sent me a Groupon for a three day, two night canoe trip in the Boundary Waters. The price was reasonable so I forwarded it to my wife with the subject line – CAN I PLEASE! : ) I was surprised when we discussed the trip that night at dinner. My wife is not really the outdoor type but she seemed very eager for me to lock in the trip. Confused by the ease of approval I decided to sleep on it.
Unfortunately the next day the offer had sold out, crestfallen I told my wife the news.
“That stinks, I really wanted to go to IKEA,” she replied.
That was the true reason I hadn’t gotten the, ‘just another man-venture’ argument, her “I” had been pretty clever, she wanted me to go, so that she could go and we could stop to shop in the twin cities.
When I started to think about it, many of our “we” activities had an underlying “I” benefits for one or the other of us. Take for instance a few weeks back when she wanted to go antiquing/shopping in Weston. My “I” became very interested because there happened to be a Nike golf bag in Kansas City that I just had to have. After several stops my “I” seized his opportunity.
“Sure you can get that piece of depression glass for your collection… did I happen to mention there was a golf bag I wanted to stop and look at in KC, maybe we could get dinner while we’re there?” I both approved and requested in one breath.
“Sure, there is just one more store I would like to stop at,” she replied. My “I” had once again gotten his way.
As with any give and take relationship the key to keeping the peace is making sure that both sides of the “we” gets their fair share of “I” wins, to think any differently would cause one to quickly lose their “we” status.
Valentine’s day is right around the corner. We made an agreement several years ago not buy gifts for each other, quite possibly another of my “I” negotiations. I’ll abide by our rule again this year and skip the chocolates, instead I will make an effort to do things purely for her more often in the months to come, with no “I” benefit.
That might have to wait until my “I” helps me with a Country Club membership though, he is pretty tricky.

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