Keep a checklist of things to do and regularly update it.
I don’t like to make plans. I prefer improvising. I enjoy losing control. My wife likes to make plans. She doesn’t like to improvise, and she really dislikes losing control. And yet, the worst thing I can do is let her plan everything for us.
I have seen enough couples to know what kind of dynamic that will lead to. The wife walks to steps in front of her husband; when you ask her a question, she always has lots of opinions, when you ask him, he blinks and looks confused. Why do you ask me?
I like not to know my preferences. My wife likes to make up preferences where she doesn’t have any. I like to let the wind lead me wherever it wants; she likes to have plotted a route beforehand and follow that route, regardless of what the wind wants her to.
She enjoys thinking about what to do the next day (often when I just want to sleep). I enjoys thinking about major expeditions (to live with the family one year in Bhutan, perhaps) but let each day tak care of itself.
Hence, she is always two steps ahead of me when it comes to logistics: what to bring when we go to the park, what kind of clothes and food, when to go, how long we should stay, to take the bike or walk… I often prefer doing nothing, doing nothing, and then suddenly go to the park and stay there for as long as I want.
She is the better planner of us, by far. (I am the better dreamer, at least when it comes to impossible dreams.) But I should plan more.
The one who plans gets power. The one who plans can delegate boring tasks to others. The one who plans lays the foundation, as it were, and the others are only able to build upon that foundation. The one who plans gets used to having opinions, get used to being listened to.
To plan is to decide. And if you’re being used to deciding, soon enough you feel entitled to it.
We’re not there, not yet. I plan less than my wife, but I don’t walk two steps behind her and accept everything she says. I am less opinionated than her, but I voice my displeasure when I feel it is needed.
And she is too caring, too empathic and too thoughtful, to steamroll all over me anyway: she wouldn’t enjoy having a Pantoffelheld as her husband.
I remember many of my friends laughing about henpecked husbands when they were students. Hehe, they would say, look at that poor guy! Why on earth does he accept being treated like that?
They don’t laugh anymore. Some of them even feel the hen pecking ever so lightly on their shoulder.
While their wives are slowly losing their illusions about being swept away by a knight on a white horse…
I don’t like to make plans. I like to improvise. But it takes a lot more planning to improvise, one must be prepared for so many eventualities. Improvising is not shying away from the world, it’s facing it. It’s not about “ah, I don’t want to do anything”, but about being ready do to anything.
And anyway, it’s a lot easier to improvise when you get some input? It’s no fun improvising in empty space.
When I grow old, I want to be a man who is ready for everything. A great improviser. But in order to do that, I need to make more plans. Which in turn will keep my marriage balanced and my wife happy.
Wow. It looks like a win-win situation. I hope I am right. Now, for that checklist…