The Secret To Our Successful Relationship: No Surprises Allowed.

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 7.236% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

It’s an ordinary Wednesday night. I’ve gotten off work; now it’s time to settle in, write some words, watch some television, and collapse into bed.


And my answer?


I had plans, you see. They were tawdry ones, even boring, but dammit, I had that night mapped out.

Doing anything else now would seem strange and frightening.

Which is silly, I know; I know some people who thrive on last-minute adventures, rushing off to pop-up kitchens and impromptu raves and oh my god someone saw a bird let’s go look at the bird.

But me? Though I love adventures, I hate re-engineering my future. Suddenly those plans of deteriorating slowly on the couch are tossed into the air, replaced with a furor of uncertainty for something I now have to do. How do I talk to the unicorns? Do I have a good wish ready? Is my diet ready to accommodate all those cupcakes?

It’s turbulent and stressful. And thankfully, my wife feels the same way.

Which is why we never surprise each other.

If the unicorn party ever comes to town, I know how my wife would handle it: she would walk into the room, exuding torrents of noncommittal vibrations, and say, “Hey. The, uh, unicorns? They’re in town. They’re granting wishes. What do you think?”

At which point she will pause for up to twenty minutes while my brain slowly, surely, jams the oars into my river of thought until it steers it in the right direction. Why not wish for cupcakes that don’t make you unhealthy? I think.

“Why, I believe I would like to go,” I would say. And off to the unicorns we’d head.

And I know this is helpful, because there’s been plenty of times I’ve rushed into the room to scream “OH MY GOD DID YOU SEE WHAT’S PLAYING AT THE CINEMA TONIGHT?” and it was a movie that Gini desperately wanted to see on the big screen and yet she tensed up and said “No” because dammit, she had no plans in particular but she’d been ready for those plans. These new plans felt like an onslaught.

Which is why, when I’m getting tired at the unicorn party, I wouldn’t just say to her, “We gotta go.” I’d sidle up to her and drop the idea in her ear: “Hey. I’m getting tired.” Which lets her gear down to the idea of leaving, and in a half an hour she’s ready to go when I am.

So we have an agreement: we do not have surprise plans. We have new plans, and an announcement of potentials, and a slow remapping of the evening, followed by joyous acquiescence.

We may arrive at the unicorns a little late. But we’ll get there. Eventually.


  1. Raven Black
    Apr 12, 2019

    I too hate sudden plans. “We’re going to horrible shop A, horrible shop B and horrible shop C in a few hours” is grudgingly okay, but “we’re going to horrible shop A and horrible shop B in a few hours” then, in the car “oh and also horrible shop C” is the worst.

    Even “oh and also a shop you actually like” is still worse than knowing what’s coming.

    Broccoli farm.

  2. tlethbridge
    Apr 18, 2019

    I can identify. Though I am probably flexible enough to appreciate a reprieve from plans I was not looking forward to, my wife likes flying by the seat of her pants far more. As an introvert married to an extrovert, I sometimes I have to tell her when I have reached capacity at a party. And as I breathe a sigh of relief and pull away in the car, ready to debrief, she goes to sleep because all the people are gone.

    The phenomenon you describe causes problems for us in that my initial reaction to a sudden possibility or change is to see all the negatives. And if my initial reaction is not positive, she is unwilling to pursue it, even AFTER I have come around to wanting to try it.

    @Raven Black, that video is epic.

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