I remember going out for dinner with my boyfriend, now my husband of seven years. Together for barely a year, it seemed there was never enough time to talk about everything which jostled for space in our respective heads. Playing conversational tennis, we’d rally for hours and never find ourselves short of something new to serve. At dinner one evening we scoffed gently at a couple who sat for two hours over their meal, never once speaking beyond asking the waiter for more bread. We’ll never be like that, we said.
And then of course we got married. And I realised that this is what people talk about when they’re married;
Married people talk about whether they should move, whether they should extend, and whether they should invest in a buy-to-let. They discuss the DIY outstanding on the house since they moved in four years ago, and deliberate over whether a new bathroom would be a better investment than a kitchen.
Married people with children talk about how wonderful their kids are, what on earth they’re going to do about little Johnny’s attention deficit disorder, and whether they should move house to get into a better catchment area (this loops neatly back to the previous topic, which is handy if you run out of things to talk about). Married women quite often talk about whether they should have another baby, which often results in a spontaneous suggestion by their husbands that they get a dog.
Married people love talking about holidays. The ones they’ve been on, the ones they’re planning, and the ones they dream of taking. Planning a holiday loops nicely back to children (Centerparcs or the Seychelles?) and to houses (you could have the Seychelles if you decide not to go for the new kitchen).
And that’s basically it. Three topics of conversation, each linking back to the other in a continuous yet stilted loop. Houses, children and holidays. When you finish a topic there’s an uncomfortable pause until one of you blurts out “I wonder if we could convert the loft?” and you fall upon it in relief until the starter arrives.
It takes some effort to break out of this conversational rut but it’s crucial that you do, otherwise before too long your children will be grown up, your house downsized and your holidays limited to a three day coach trip to Bognor. Try adding the following to your repertoire;
How much you’re getting (ideally with each other), what’s good and what’s not, and whether or not you’re willing to try that thing he’s always wanted to do. If nothing else you’ll give the other diners something to talk about.
People you hate
From work colleagues to neighbours to celebrities, it’s always good value to spend an hour or two discussing how awful other people are. Do check the restaurant first to make sure none of your intended victims are actually there.
Speak in a different accent
This is my favourite, guaranteed to liven up proceedings. It’s best if you warn your spouse you’re about to do this, otherwise they may think you’ve gone quietly insane. Simply adopt an accent of your choice, from Glaswegian to Czechoslovakian, and commit to spending the entire evening speaking in that voice. Even if you default to one of the married topics outlined above, it’ll be so much more interesting in a Welsh accent.