During the crazy Broncos/Ravens game that sent Our Holy Team out of the Superbowl, I was working some tables at one of my jobs. Every single table or group of people was huddled together, talking about the latest game development. There was a noticeable drop in volume in the theater as soon as the game went into overtime and almost silence during the second overtime. The game’s presence was absolutely palpable among the patrons.
It made absolutely no sense to me. For one, the establishment I work in isn’t your run-of-the-mill restaurant. It’s probably the fanciest dinner theater in the state, and the ticket prices are, at the very least, prohibitive to people who aren’t willing to shell out more than $80 for dinner (and a show). It’s not wildly expensive, but it is expensive enough to try to talk to the people you’re out with in lieu of keeping track of The Big Game.
This behavior could certainly be chalked up to being huge fans of the Broncos, but I’m pretty sure something more nefarious was going on. I have seen people on their phones at our theater plenty of other times. It’s usually an older couple who has probably been married for 10+ years or an adult who has brought their child to the theater as their date. It’s pretty clear why the parent/child combo might be on the phone – their child is either the most boring child in the world or they’ve taken a page from Clueless‘ book of parenting. The older couple really made me think and worry about what lies in the future of my own relationship. What is it about being with someone for a long time that makes you prefer Reddit or Fox news or whatever older people do on the Internet to your spouse/partner? I’m in a relatively new relationship, and admit to never being married for a long time, but it seems masochistic to be in a relationship with someone that you can’t even talk to .
I’ve long suspected that people in long-term relationships become apathetic and comatose about their love relationships. I see this especially in the relationships I’ve observed in my family and the older people I’ve come to know in life. For some reason, the couple develops one routine that can never be broken or altered. One partner will be the one to take care of the children, the other will take care of maintaining the house and the cars, and so on. This role assigning is vital in the beginning of a relationship – it’s cost effective, it makes setting up a monogamous coexistence easier because there’s no time wasted on assigning jobs, and it generally makes the partners admire each other for what they contribute (in a healthy relationship).
What was vital in the first 5 years might not be vital for a couple going strong for 10 or 20, however, and this is how people become complacent. Once the roles have been assigned and all of the important stuff of life has been taken care of, there’s room for variety and change – something that older couples are generally not privy to. When my grandmother became sick and mostly bed-ridden and my grandfather tried to change things up by taking on household work, she became dejected about it. She resented him for changing the roles. This is the extremity of role assignment, of course, but I’m sure it happens in less extreme degrees. After a partner resents change in the routine, it becomes more and more difficult to liven up the monogamous party. Life becomes about filling a role and not about love and happiness and quality time with your partner. I imagine this is why old couples sit in the theater and pay more attention to their phones than their partners. They probably have nothing to talk about. The essentials are taken care of, and the couple hasn’t done anything new since their 4th anniversary.