How to Have a Really Unpleasant Dinner with Your Spouse

It’s Dan Ariely time again.

Here is one of the letters he received, and his response:

I go out to dinner with my husband once a week, and every time, we promise to order something healthy—but when we see the menu, we get tempted and order something less virtuous but tasty. Any advice on how to show more resolve? —Aimee

You are describing a classical case of temptation. Before you get to the restaurant, you’ve settled on a certain idea of how you want to behave—then you get tempted, and afterward, you regret your indulgences. So how can you override temptation? Just order for each other. When we order for our significant other, we aren’t tempted by taste and can instead think about their health—which is also what our spouse would want a few hours later.

I can’t imagine that going so well.

It seems to me that going out for dinner should be a special occasion, and the chance to maybe indulge a little bit. If you’re eating healthy the other six nights a week, then you can probably afford to eat something “less virtuous but tasty.”

I can envision going out to dinner, and following Dan’s advice, ordering just a kale salad with no dressing for your significant other, and water to drink.

I’m thinking that would turn out to be a pretty quiet dinner, especially if the restaurant you went to had something “less virtuous but tasty” that you know your partner would really enjoy.

While your partner might be grateful several hours later for having eaten the kale salad, I’m not sure it would be worth it. I think I’d rather deal with the regret later than sit through a tension-filled dinner.

I think if you really want to go out for a healthy meal, then choose a restaurant that only offers such options. That way each person can order for themselves, and you won’t have to deal with the stress of ordering for your partner or the silent treatment that might follow.

Bon Appétit…


Published by

Jim Borden

Accounting Prof. at Villanova; happily married for 30+ years; father of 3 outstanding young men; vegan; interests: fitness, creativity, education, blogging, social media.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *