I am no behavioral scientist, so please take whatever I say in this post with a pinch of salt. You will be happy to know that what I am going to tell you always happens around a dinning table in a restaurant – so salt will be at arms length.
Yes, seating arrangement in relationships change with time. When you and your partner are married, you won`t walk into a restaurant and take your positions, as you would if you were courting. My research in this area (aided by personal experience, of course) is spread over at least ten years.
During this research, I am not taking into account the behavior of my father and mother because back then eating in restaurants was a sin. Don`t believe me? Try ordering food from outside when your mother is visiting you. When I did, she asked me: “Why, has the cylinder gotten over?”
Anyway, during my research I have come to notice that there are six different positions that a couple can take when they walk into a restaurant – depending on which stage of their relationship they are in. Here, we are excluding gay couples because yours sincerely has not come across any. If at all he has, they have managed to hide the fact from him successfully.
Let me explain the six different positions in detail:
The getting-to-know-each-other stage
In this stage, the couple walks into the restaurant and feels happy that they are inside. If it is a small town (Madurai, for example) the couple even lets out a sigh of relief that they managed to enter the restaurant without a relative spotting them. The man then takes a position that allows him to see when the waiter is approaching. The lady sits directly opposite him. Some of the statements uttered by the lady are: “My friend Geeta has a boyfriend they have visited almost all the restaurants in the city” & “I would like to pack some food for my friends in hostel – the food there is really bad.” The man, if he is the talkative type might end up saying stuff like: “Maybe, next time we should go to a better place” (Girls, be warned…the man is pitching for the next outing already) & “You can have butter nan. Hope you aren`t cutting down because you think you are putting on weight.”
The Courtship Stage
By the time a couple reaches this stage, both have sworn allegiance to each other till death does them apart. Notice that the man still prefers to call the waiter and is willing to foot the bill. In this stage, the couple prefers to sit next to each other. The occasional brush of the legs and arms are cherished, and spoken about during late night phone calls in references like: “Remember that time when your shoe brushed against my shoe…that was heavenly.” This position also helps the couple get the same view, and thus help them make fun of other customers and have a hearty laugh.
The Engagement Stage
By the time the couple reaches this stage, they know each other well but are still yearning for more. Notice that the man still sits closer to the approaching waiter and thus is in command – he orders and he pays. In this stage, the chairs are pulled closer and the shoulders are almost touching. Since, in this stage the touching of shoulders is enough to send across an electric current… every trip to a restaurant is a shocking experience. Sweet nothings are whispered into each others ears which annoys the poor (read bachelor) waiter, who is still looking for a girl.
The Initial-Days-of-Marriage Stage
Every restaurant seems great in this stage. The ambience doesn`t matter…the food doesn`t matter. The couple believes that if they are together, they don`t need anything else. Notice the strange seating arrangement in this stage – which allows them to whisper into each other`s ears and yet allows them to gaze into each other`s eyes while they wait for the food. Notice the sudden change in the lady`s position (closer to the waiter`s path) which allows her to place the order and pay the bill. Note for those that are not married: More often than not, the bank accounts merge after marriage.
The Three-Years-After-Marriage Stage
This is stage when the couple has realized that they won`t die if they stop touching the other partner. While the lady continues to sit near the aisle, the couple now sit opposite each other. Sweet nothings are no longer whispered into each other`s ears…and neither a brush of the shoes spoken about. An occasional “Sorry!” is heard, when their feet touch under the table. Waiters love to serve couples in this stage, because it makes them happy about themselves. Some of the statements heard are: “Next time, remember not to bring me to this restaurant” & “These guys take so long to serve…why don`t they realize we come here to eat and not talk!”
The After-Two-Kids-Enter-The-Marriage Stage
Notice the lack of organization in the seating arrangement. Visits to restaurants are no longer occasions…but compulsions because the couple was busy earning money for their children and forgot to cook. Notice that the lady continues to sit near the aisle, and the couple take the two corners of the dining table. They do this to protect their two children from forks, pepper, salt and other such dangerous items one finds on dinning tables. Some of the statements heard are: “Let us cut down on such outings. Why don`t you ask the waiter if they deliver food home?” & “Who dropped hot soup on my feet?”
So which stage do you associate with?