I’m very organised. My husband is not. He’s an academic and loses track of time when he gets immersed in things, so I’m the one who organises insurance, dental check-ups, holidays, new shoes – all the boring bits of life that let us tick on happily. The trouble comes when he decides he wants to make a change.
When he gets an idea into his head, it becomes all-important. Early on in our relationship, I would argue if I didn’t like one of these edicts, but that only made him dig his heels in. Fifteen years into our marriage I’ve developed a much better tactic. I agree with him wholeheartedly, and then do absolutely nothing to help. It sounds bad, I know. But it means I always win.
For example, he wanted the children to go to the nearest Catholic school, which is a half-hour drive away, rather than the excellent non-denominational school in the next street. I agreed without any argument. I did point out, however, that since he’s the Catholic, not me, he would need to go the school and speak to the local priest to put their names down. Meanwhile, I quietly put the kids’ names down for the school I wanted. I didn’t remind my husband about the Catholic school and of course he left it too late, so the children went to the school I preferred and are totally settled.
Take another example. Once the children were all in school, he decided he wanted us to move out of the city for a more rural life. I disagreed, since the three children were happy, his job at a university was within walking distance and mine was a short bus ride away. I listened as he spoke lyrically about wide green spaces and better air, enthusiastically agreed and suggested he looked for houses he liked.
He was a little surprised at my immediate agreement and we sourced three lovely little villages. I encouraged him to try the commute to and from them. After one 6am start, where he was late for his first lecture and then didn’t get back to the picturesque village until after 9pm, he wasn’t quite so keen – as I knew he wouldn’t be. I suggested the train might be better. He set off to the station one evening straight from work and finally phoned at 8pm to say there were only two trains an hour after 7.30pm and the one he was on had broken down. He went off the idea. I congratulated myself on another successful mind-game.
I thought that was maybe the end of his grand plans. But now he’s convinced that a retreat in the Scottish Highlands, home schooling the kids and both of us working from home – I’m a surveyor – is a good idea. Once again I’m encouraging him to do his research. I occasionally worry that one day he’ll actually put the chat into action. But in the meantime, it’s my nodding doll act and fingers crossed.