Psst!  Wanna know a secret?  Well, here it is - your girlfriend/wife/partner just wants to know “The Plan”.  

What is The Plan you ask?  The Plan consists of all the day to day to-do’s, roles, and responsibilities that you and your partner, as a couple, need to take to prep for anything you do – from planning the most mundane task of who’ll pick up the dry cleaning, to tackling the more complex tasks such as planning a cross-country move. 

From listening to and talking with other women, I’ve found that the need for both partners in a relationship to be on board with The Plan increases dramatically once you become parents since your lives revolve around planning for all the little things that you used take for granted - like eating or going to the bathroom. 

Executing The Plan is usually the easiest part.  But, formulating The Plan – now that’s painful.  As a mother of two (four if you count the dog and Dick), I spend most of my time planning for myself AND for everyone else.  As if the mere act of thinking for 4 people and a dog isn’t tiring enough, I also need to organize all my thoughts into intricate plans incorporating an almost endless stream of variables.  And, with small children around, there’s planning required for everything – wardrobe, hair, make-up, food…food – and that’s just for me!

When I reach out to Dick to square away The Plan for something simple, like a dinner menu for instance, I am in no mood to play “go fish” – sorting out which elements of The Plan he seems more or less enthusiastic about.  If he knows The Plan, I want him to save me the effort and just tell me what it is.  If he doesn’t, then I want him to tell me straight away that he’s open to my ideas and then help me organize a joint plan.

So, the following conversation would be an example of what NOT to say to show your spouse or partner that you’re on board with The Plan.  This would be an example of how to infuriate and annoy your mate:

Me: “So, what’s the plan for the evening?”

Dick: “I don’t know.  What sounds good to you?  Do you feel like cooking tonight?”

Me: “I’m fine with that.  I have some chicken defrosting in the fridge.”

Dick: “Chicken?”

Me: “Yeah.  Why?  Did you have something else in mind?”

Dick (sounding vaguely disappointed): “No, no if you want to cook chicken, that sounds fine to me. I always prefer your cooking.”

Me: “Well, if you don’t want chicken, I can make something else?”

Dick: “Don’t be silly.  If chicken is easy and sounds good to you, then I’m fine with it.  Is there anything else you could make?”

Me: “Do you not feel like eating chicken?  Because, if you don’t want chicken, that’s okay.  Just tell me what you want?  Or, do you want to eat out?”

Dick: “Would you like to eat out?”

Me: “I’m okay with eating out if you don’t want me to cook…”

Dick: “I never said that; you know I always prefer your cooking.  But, if we were to eat out, it would give you a nice break from cooking.”

Me: “Fine.  We’ll eat out.  What do you want?”

Dick: “I don’t know.  What do you feel like having?”

This conversation goes on for another 10 minutes until I finally beat out of him the fact that he’d like to go by our favorite Italian place.  Why couldn’t he just tell me he had The Plan so we could’ve fast-forwarded to the end of the episode?  Why couldn’t the conversation have gone something like:

Me: “So, what’s the plan for the evening?”

Dick: “I’ve been thinking – you’ve been working so hard lately, we should eat out tonight and give you a nice break from cooking.  How about Italian?”

Me: “Oh, darling! I do so appreciate your sensitivity and thoughtfulness.  I would love to eat Italian tonight and then, after the children are asleep, I’d love to eat you to show my appreciation. How does that sound?”

By my calculations, cutting straight to The Plan rather than dancing around it, shaves off 10 minutes of conversation and makes Dick at least 70% more likely to get lucky.  And all he has to do is occasionally remove the omnipresent burden of The Plan from my shoulders.  Is that too much to ask?  Because, while Dick may have the flexibility to plan or not, our society still expects me, as the mommy, to run a tidy household and to plan the hell out of everything.

How can I explain to all you men out there the comfort for us ladies in knowing The Plan?  I guess it just makes us feel a tiny bit of control over the chaos that is our lives as females.  In fact, most women will tell you that you don’t even have to know The Plan. For must of us, it’s enough just to know that you’re thinking about one.  And when we occasionally stumble across you formulating The Plan for something, we feel relieved because we’re reminded that we’re not the only ones in our relationships capable of bearing this burden.  There is another!  We really are a team!  You really are capable of thinking through all the same endless tasks that grind away at our patience and consume our energy.  We are NOT alone! 

While women may be complicated creatures, I can assure that, as long as you guys do a good job of pretending to understand what ticks us off and what lightens our load, we’ll give you a free pass on a lot of the stupid, lazy stuff you say and do.  So, get out there and spread the word!  It’s all about The Plan, man.

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