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Abstract Academic: Dating, love, marriage, then more dating

I put on a nice sweater and look for matching socks. I spend extra time scrubbing my face and even make sure my pants don’t have wrinkles. Hopping in my car, I check my ensemble again in the rearview mirror.

“I hope there’s a connection,” I think. “I don’t think I can handle rejection again.”

Fear swells as I pull up to the house. My pockets, filled with Tic Tacs and emergency tissues, serve only to mop the sweat from my anxious palms. As I approach the porch and ring the doorbell with one clammy finger, I check my reflection one more time in the glass door. It opens.

“Hi,” Sarah says coyly. “Good to see you! Come on in.”

My foot crosses the threshold, and I turn to my wife, who follows me inside.

“Did you remember the Uno cards?” I ask.

“Don’t worry,” says Sarah’s husband, Geoff. “We have some. They’re Harry Potter-themed.”

Don’t worry, everybody. Nothing fishy going on here. Just some good old, regular couples-dating. And if you’re single, trust me: You have it easy.

When I married Jill a couple of years ago, my first thought was “Awesome. She’s great.” My second thought was “I never have to try and impress someone’s dad again.” But trying to impress the husbands of some of my wives’ friends is even harder, especially when that spouse puts motorcycles back together, or is interested in Internet entrepreneurship, or likes the Lakers, or doesn’t think the new Muppets movie was all that good (I mean, c’mon. It was so sincere).

Unfortunately, dating just continues after marriage, and it’s even more awkward, because (a) you can’t try to hold somebody’s hand to find out if you’re doing well, and (b) you have to leave by 9 so everyone has time to watch Storage Wars on their DVR before bedtime.

For my single readers, imagine the feelings you get while trying to find someone to date (whoa. Not those feelings): Does she like me? Was I nice enough to the waiter? Should I stop talking about why I like Legos so much?

Now, multiply those feelings by four (WHOA!! NOT THOSE FEELINGS!!), and you have potential incompatibility on four fronts: I think he’s a cool guy, but she won’t stop complaining about her job. My wife gets along well with her, but her husband thinks I’m some directionless English major destined for a life of poverty and a pathetically low amount of power tools in my garage. She’s great, but he IS a power tool, if you know what I mean.

Here’s another problem: Because we’re very Mormon, we have no liquid courage with which to lubricate the gears of our evening. I’ve tried offering my wife a staggering amount of cough syrup before couples’ dates, but she declines. Prude.

Another unique problem my wife and I have is that she has never lost a board game or card game or anything like that once in her life. Seriously. Ever. This is not a talent you want when the only diversions you get at these events (again, ref. previous paragraph) are talking about your health/finances/TV shows and playing games. She wins the first round, and then the second, and then the next 12. It’s like being married to Tim Tebow.

But the very worst thing is when you find a couple that you both really like. That’s when the dating game-play comes in.

Me: “Should we call them? I think we should call them.”

Jill: “No. First, we should send a text that says we had a good time.”

Me: “Yeah. That’s brilliant. And then ask them what they’re doing tomorrow night!”

Jill: “No, you fool! Too soon. We should wait a few weeks, then see if they want to get sushi.”

Me: “Right, right. Do you think they want to go in on a time-share with us?”

And so on. That’s why, on most evenings, we find ourselves at home, in our sweats, chuckling at Brian Williams’ wry witticisms and drowning our lonely sorrows in cough syrup.

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