How cavemen, chocolates and a dinner invite nearly destroyed my marriage.

reciprocity

Dinner invites….

It all began with a perfectly ordinary event – my partner, daughters and I were invited around for a late afternoon dinner with some friends one Sunday last month. Usually when you go to someone’s house you bring something – some flowers, something you have made, or a bottle of something (not so much the latter for us now as we are basically drunk all the time in my household). In this instance we’d been quite disorganised and been unable to sort anything out in advance. No problem – we would just pick something up on the way right? Wrong. Just as we were leaving our baby (with impeccable timing) needed a full nappy / outfit change and a comprehensive hosing down(I’ll let you guess why). As a result we arrived at the supermarket at one minute past four, 60 full seconds after it closed, and were barred entry. Even though we knew the people we were seeing (who are super nice squared) would not automatically expect us to bring something we still felt we had a dilemma – walk across town to another shop which may be open, but be quite late (which with kids and eating can be a deal breaker in terms of a pleasant afternoon!) or go empty handed, which felt wrong (or so half of our partnership thought). OK, so it’s a bit of a exaggeration to say my marriage was nearly destroyed by this discussion. But my partner and I did have quite a falling out! In the end we picked something up, were a bit late, and had a fantastic evening. The tension this seemingly minor issue raised did lead me to reflect on why the drive to bring something when we go to someone’s house to eat is so strong, and what psychology has to say about it.

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