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How to tell your partner you’re going skiing (again)

Every so often, couples have to engage in what my lawyer friend (let’s call him John, since that’s his name) labels “difficult conversations,” and there’s surely no more difficult conversation than telling your spouse you’re taking a second (or third, or fourth) ski trip this winter.

“In any relationship,” says our marriage counsellor Marjorie Blinkist, “a couple’s needs and wants don’t always align.” In those situations, she recommends staging the room with potted plants, a water feature or two, coffee table books on conflict resolution and relaxing music such as “Eye of the Tiger.” “Then,” she says, “sit your spouse down, tell them you’re going skiing, and run like hell.”

Allowing for the possibility that Marjorie is nuts, we suggest a few other approaches, with help from our readers. 

Call your spouse when you get there. Better yet, get your ski buddy to call them.

1.Tell them it’s a work trip

“Start a travel company,” advises Paul from Edmonton “That way you can call it a fact-finding trip.” While Paul has never actually used this approach, he’s seen it done many times—his dad was a travel agent. Perhaps Paul should consider incorporating a small travel company himself.

2. Cut and run

“Grow some balls,” suggests Holly, from Toronto. “Just tell them it’s happening and go. If they want to be with you they need to suck it up and accept skiing is at least as important to you as they are.” While Holly’s approach might not be for everyone (and it’s certainly not for me, honey) it does have merit. At least everyone, including the judge, knows exactly where they stand.

3. Try the positive spin approach 

A classic since the dark ages, and one of my personal favourites: “Honey, great news! The Pope invited me on a Crusade!” Only, I’ve replaced it with: “Honey, great news! Big Balls Bob and Dangerous Dave invited me on a ski trip!” Next I focus on the good parts: “Maybe we’ll finally find the Holy Grail,” has become “Just think of all the quality time you’ll get to spend with the kids and your mother-in-law.” If necessary, don’t be afraid to drop in some stuff about this being good for your mental health, your happiness and, by extension, your relationship. Harkening back to lockdown winters can be leveraged here, too.

4. Call them when you get there 

A classic approach of the consummate coward: Call your spouse when you get there. Better yet, get your ski buddy to call them. I’ve been asked to do this for a cowardly friend more than once. It’s never easy but what can a spouse do to you from 5,000km away? “Hey,” I say, “I’m just the messenger!” As Vicious Vicky from Moose Jaw says: “By the time you get home the problem will have sorted itself out. They’ll either have forgiven you or left. Frankly, I hope they’ve left.”

5. Try to be reasonable 

Olivia Doherty, a hostage negotiator from Cumberland, B.C., suggests trying to reason with your partner. “The goal here is to get your spouse to accept that the process is inevitable, and that you should focus on the time you have left together before you go.” Olivia says this approach can trigger an emotional response that helps your partner recognize your finer qualities, including everything you do for the family. “They’ll begin to see that you deserve this trip,” she says. “Either that or they might get really mad, which is why we always have sharpshooters standing by. Wait, sorry! I’m thinking hostage situation here.”

6. Consider the tequila ploy 

Everyone knows this one but I’ll outline it anyway: Buy a bottle (or maybe two depending on your partner’s tolerance for alcohol) and encourage some heavy drinking. Wait until your spouse’s head is flopping from side to side and they’re making groaning noises, then outline your next ski trip.  And don’t forget to add: “If you don’t want me to go, honey, please say so now because I’m about to hit ‘Book and pay.’” Assuming they don’t reply (because they can only drool) you’re free and clear. Record the conversation so you have proof it happened.

7. Lull them into a dream state 

“I never let him forget about that holiday he took in 1987.” This from Ray of Peanut Island, who uses her husband’s favourite fishing trip—the one he describes as “seminal, biblical”—as leverage. While he’s reminiscing, turning all dreamy-eyed, she says: “I’m just hoping that one day I can have a holiday as great as yours.” Then she books herself a ski trip. Ray points out this approach only works on people with zero attention span. “It’s a form of hypnotism,” she says. “You need your spouse so deeply lost in their memories that they can feel the sand between their toes ”

8. Tell them you told them 

Dave from Aviemore, Scotland, suggests responding to your partner’s surprise when they see you walking out the door by saying, “I don’t know why you’re surprised, honey, I told you three years ago.” While ethically questionable, it does have merit, in that you did tell them.

9. Tell them from far away 

Does your partner have a hearing deficit? If so, this could be the approach for you. Stand at the bottom of the front steps, ideally when it’s windy and traffic is heavy, and carefully explain that you’ll be back in two weeks. Make sure to nod, smile, and use extravagant hand gestures. As above, you can’t be accused of not telling them, so you’re good to go.

10. Tell them in public 

As Marjorie Blinkist points out, we are herd animals. We like to fit in. Sit down at a table with your partner and five or six close friends. Get them all nodding and smiling about how awesome the skiing is at, say, Revelstoke. Once everyone’s swapping ski stories, take a deep breath, lean forward and say: “And that’s why I’m going to Revy next week.” If you’ve played your cards right, it will be high fives all round. Not wanting to look like Scrooge, your partner will have to go along with it. Immediately phone the Sutton Place and book a room. If your spouse questions it later, shake your head regretfully and say: “You know darling, you should have said something when you had the chance. My reservation is not refundable.”

11. Use the excuse: “It’s because of COVID” 

This one can be used to explain more or less anything these days, from a shortage of wieners through to your need to go skiing for an extra week this winter. Focus on the mental health implications of not going, as well as the turns you didn’t get to make last winter. No reasonable person would deny you that fundamental right. It’s incredibly un-P.C. to refuse anyone anything once the “Due to Covid” argument is in play.

12. Just ask them 

Obviously this is a joke. Why would anyone take this approach? 

Ski Canada Staff
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