Painless Hospitality

How to open your home to others without driving your spouse crazy

My husband, David, and I exemplify opposites attracting. He's laid-back, highly creative and artistic, and very quiet. I'm tense and intense, left-brain logical, and noisily gregarious. What can I say? Somehow it works.

But when it comes to doing things together, we run into trouble. Most of David's artistic hobbies are one-man operations: painting, making stained glass, woodworking, quilting (can you believe it?). And my interests tend to be bookish, which also don't lead us into quality time with each other. So what's a couple to do?

Take up entertaining, that's what. I don't mean entertaining as in song-and-dance-take-it-on-the-road. I mean entertaining as in move-over-Martha-Stewart. As it turns out, even in this time of people "cocooning," having people over is still something of a novelty. For lots of reasons—fear of letting people see your imperfectly cleaned or decorated home, less-than-spectacular cooking skills, shyness—people just don't open up their homes as much as they once did.

For David and me, it's become a real side-by-side pastime that's been great fun and enjoyment for us, as well as a way to make friends and reach out to others. That reaching out to others is important to us. Psychologist John Gottman, in his Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, lists "shared meaning" as his seventh principle. Couples need to have a sense that their oneness has a purpose other than their own companionship and pleasure. Pastor and marriage therapist Tim Gardner says, "Your oneness needs to be invested in something greater than self."

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May 25

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