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A heady topic that could lead to just about anywhere. But here's what I'm talking about. There's an article in every Saturday Wall Street Journal by Dan Ariely. He tries to find answers to peoples "dilemmas". One of the questions asked of Dan was, "My husband and I are childless...each day he comes home and says 'What do you want to do tonight?' We've tried every restaurant within a 5 mile radius. Neither of us enjoys shopping or watching movies at a theater. His hobby is aviation and I don't fly...we usually end up watching TV and we don't even like TV. Can you shed some light on our problem?"
Dan's answer was basically something my husband and I did with a group of friends many years ago. We had a core of 3 couples. Each time someone asked, well, what are we doing this weekend? No one could agree on what to do. Inevitably someone would say, I don't want to do that. Here's what Dan recommended to the couple and then I'll follow with what we did as the three couples. Read more...
Dan recommended that they needed a sequential plan, that is, agree up front on a plan that will make only one of them happy on a given night but, ultimately, will let both of them do more things they enjoy. He recommended they get a pack of cards and on each card write down an activity that each of them wants to do, mix the cards and draw one card every evening to pick that night's activity. This should lead to better enjoyment overall. It's better to have some enjoyment on some nights of the week than to have no joy every night. He also recommends throwing in some wild cards, activities that they normally wouldn't do but they might find the experience enjoyable. He recommends karaoke, poetry reading, pottery, volunteering, square dancing etc. (If I used some of these as my wild cards, my husband would chain himself to the couch.) OK, that's Dan's take. I'd tone it down just a bit. Maybe some people do like to go out every night but not moi. A couple of times a week is enough for me. But my husband and I are retired and do lots of stuff together anyway. As far as the wild card activities, I'd have more like going to a cooking demonstration, a big wheel truck race, art show at the city art museum, and the karaoke and volunteering would be good. What about a Fifty Shades night of reading the book out loud? Then you'll really find out if your spousal preferences are aligned!
I've used a particular technique twice on my husband when he didn't want to travel to a destination I wanted to go to...guilt. You gotta love the guy. I said to him, "so, you're saying you don't want to go to French Polynesia because you just don't want to?" How can you keep me from going to someplace you know I dearly want to go to because you just don't want to?" We went and he had an OK time. But the next trip was HIS idea. A friend of mine said, but if I don't want to do something, I don't want to do it. I don't want to be made to do it. My response was that it's not like I was asking him to swap spits with Howard Stern. If you know it's going to be a give and take and the ground rules are set and agreed to, you can put up with something for a few hours, a night or a week (well, there might be some, as said in Fifty Shades, red boundaries). Oh, the second place I used the guilt trip technique was for a trip to Africa. Guess what? He suggested we go back. Hah!
OK. Here's what we did with our friends. We drew names to set a schedule for the activities. Let's say I was to go first. We would set the date and then I would simply tell the other couples where to be, at what time and how to dress. No one would know the activity but me. We had some fun times. My husband chose for all of us to go bowling. Since he's Italian, he had tee shirts made up for the couples and gave them names, Vito, Maria, Johnny Nose, Carmela etc. We met at our house first, had a few toddies, had the limo pick us up (no drinking and driving allowed) and proceeded to have a big, old time. We went to the horse races, to Billy Bob's, to the Texas State Fair (we were the only group there in a limo), fancy dinners, Nascar races, and odd ball theatre productions. No one grumbled. No one complained because they knew their turn was coming. We did this for a few years until my husband decided to take a job in a far away city. We have a new set of friends here and we kind of do the same thing but with golf trips. We just got back from a great trip to Rumbling Bald, NC that I set up.
As I stated before, these are great techniques as long as the ground rules are set and everyone agrees. Except for the guilt trip...I try not to use it too often. He's a smart guy...