PQ 16.8 — Do my accommodations improve my relationships or create other problems?

a view of Lake Erie from Edgewater Park
Image by bbcjk.king / CC BY

PQ 16.8 — Do my accommodations improve my relationships or create other problems?

*

Justin has always worried about me. He can’t help it.

I used to have a hell of a work commute. On a day without traffic, accidents, or inclement weather conditions, it took about 40 minutes for me to get to the office. But as one would suspect, most days were not ideal conditions. And sometimes, it would take me 2 hours each way.

The long commute was difficult enough to plan around — throw in the variability and woo boy. The whole thing made Justin anxious. And forget about trying to figure out what to do for dinner. When to have it. Anything, really.

But we put our heads together and discovered a fairly easy fix: Location sharing between our two phones. Essentially, Justin set it up so we could always see where the other person was. That way he could get a quick idea of whether things were shaping up to be a 40-minute or a 2-hour adventure for me on the drive home. And even though sometimes I wasn’t moving all that much, the fact that there was movement also reassured him that I was just inching forward in gridlock and not in some sort of terrible accident.

At the time we set up this location-sharing, we were functionally monogamous. We’d been poly when we first got together, but hadn’t pursued new relationships for a few years after a spate of breakups, choosing not to replace or supplement the ones that had ended naturally for us. Instead, we took that extra bandwidth and worked on self-improvement and become more secure in practical terms. We focused on advancing our careers. I went to therapy and back to school. And we paid off some bills.

And when we eventually started dating other people again, even though it wasn’t why we’d adopted it in the first place, we discovered that the location-sharing came in handy. If either of us were out later than expected, we could easily peek and get a rough idea of where the other person was. At a restaurant, the park, that other person’s house. It was reassuring to see that we weren’t stranded on the side of the road somewhere.

It worked beautifully — except for one night.

The Lake Erie Affair

Justin was out on a date with someone. They’d gone to dinner and then to a park next to Lake Erie, where they spent a few hours.

Except that’s not where my phone said he was. It said he was in the middle of Lake Erie.

Now, I know all about how cell phone towers work. How signals can bounce to another tower, giving the wrong location. And I was 99% sure that this was what was happening. My husband was probably not drowning. He almost certainly hadn’t skidded off the Shoreway somehow and plunged into Lake Erie as he drove his date back to her place.

But it was possible.

I immediately started texting my friends. My phone says he’s in Lake Erie! I know he’s probably not, but I’m so anxious.

I drank most of a bottle of wine by myself. Pacing around the living room. Scaring the cats with my ranting.

Why don’t you text him? one friend wrote back. Just check.

Two reasons, I replied. 1) If he doesn’t text back, I’ll get even more anxious. Even though he could just be having a good time and distracted, my anxiety will take it as evidence that he’s drowning. 2) This isn’t my time. This is her time. I can’t interrupt their date. That’s rude. 

I took a bath. Watched a TV show. Finished off the bottle of wine I’d started. All the while checking my phone obsessively.

And then finally, it showed Justin as back on the road, heading to his date’s house probably to drop her off.

I told him everything when I got home. He laughed and gave me a big hug. And we sat down and talked about everything we’d learned from the experience.

*

This post is part of a series in which I answer each of the chapter-end questions in More than Two with an essay. For the entire list of questions and answers, please see this indexed list.

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