Saturday, July 25, 2015

You're either with me or you're against me

I had a little misunderstanding with my wife Thursday night about her, well, hovering while I was trying to watch a movie.

Feelings were only bruised, not fully hurt, but I basically told her -- nicely -- to shove off.

See, it's distracting to be starting up a movie while another person -- a person not watching the movie with you -- is doing things in the area that seem like they could be done at other times.

I made it through about five minutes of Francis Ford Coppola's Twixt before I disconnected my computer from the TV and decided to do some internetting until she cleared out. I wasn't actually going to say anything about it, but of course she said, "I'm sorry, am I bothering you?" Not in a sarcastic way, but in a genuine, nice way.

"It's just distracting to try to watch a movie while things are going on in the area," I told her.

I could have left it there and it probably would have been fine, but then I added (with some minimal kind of prompting from her that I could have easily ignored) that she was "fussing about." That got more at what I really felt, but it was also more hurtful. Or, bruiseful I guess, since no feelings were actually hurt during the making of this discussion. Or so she insists.

See, it comes down to this: I'm more than happy for you to watch the movie with me. In fact, I would love it. But if you aren't going to watch it with me -- if you're going to watch only about a single movie with me per week on average -- then you have to make it easier for me to watch the other four or five per week I need to watch.

My wife and I have a tradition of watching one, maybe two shows together after dinner. Then she goes off to the bedroom to watch a TV show that I have no interest in, and I stay in the living room to watch a movie she has no interest in. She's more TV and I'm more movies, so this works out well.

The problem comes with the difference in length between those two entities. Her TV show is at most an hour, but probably really more like 42 to 50 minutes. My movie is usually twice that, even when I choose something short, like Twixt (88 minutes). Which was really the only option for me Thursday night, as I'd unwittingly stayed up until 2 the night before but just had to feed that beast.

So because her show is shorter than my movie, she doesn't need to rush to get started on it, and might justifiably like to engage in various pre-bedtime routines, like a little rinsing of dishes or a little picking up of random odds and ends. I get that.

But me? I need to get started right away or I will be asleep halfway through. Even if something is short, like Twixt, but especially if it is longer than that.

And yeah, you can start watching a movie while your wife is still pottering around -- that's a bit less weighted of a phrase than "fussing about" -- but it's hard on a number of levels. There isn't only the distraction of the various noises that the person might make and the various visual interferences they may be creating by moving around in your peripheral vision. There's also the perception of needing to justify what I'm watching, even if that perception is only in my own head. "Yes, I have chosen this very night, July 23rd, 2015, to watch the Francis Ford Coppola gothic indie horror Twixt. I have no motivating factor in watching it tonight other than that it was on our Netflix queue and it is only 88 minutes long. What of it?" Again, that's my perception, not reality.

But the point is that it's all a type of distraction. Once she's settled in the bedroom, I'm not fussing about or pottering around or doing anything else in the bedroom. Because the bedroom has fewer things that can be done in it, it does not require my presence. But the living room connects the bedroom wing of the house and the kitchen area, so naturally it must be traversed for almost any household chore. And my wife should be able to do these before she goes to bed, especially since she's one of those people who sleeps better when certain basic tidying has been accomplished. If I make her feel guilty about doing those things then it's probably far worse than any disruption she is causing me.

So what I guess I really need is a den. I need some location where I can steal off alone to start playing my movie, where I won't be inhibiting anyone else's activities and they won't be inhibiting mine. But I guess the abruptness of that tends to underscore the idea that I'm just counting down to the minutes to my moment when I'm finally "free" to go watch what I need to watch. It feels a bit antisocial.

Like anything, it's a work in progress I guess.


Nick Prigge said...

",,,then you have to make it easier for me to watch the other four or five per week I need to watch." God, I identify so hard with this post. I moved in with my girlfriend four months ago and am finding this exact same thing to be something of a struggle as we still settle into our patterns.

Derek Armstrong said...

I wish you luck. When I first moved in with my girlfriend (now wife), there was the incident that we now joke about where I said to her something along the lines of "Well what if I just want to watch three movies in a row?" It was an expression of frustration over my waning freedom to do whatever I durn pleased. Ultimately, if it's a good relationship, the positives will far outweigh the negatives and you will be able to strike a balance that suits you.