Where do you want to eat tonight?

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where do you want to eat, man and woman sitting

“I don’t care. Where do you want to eat?”

“Doesn’t matter.”

Actually, it really does matter. Even for those who say they don’t care or defer the decision to their spouse or partner, there is an underlying resentment about how this decision is made.

Because I don’t enjoy cooking, my husband and I have this debate often. He is a gentleman, and he defers to me. “Whatever you want, honey.”

“I’m really hungry from Mexican.”

He winces. And we end up at the Roadhouse eating chicken sandwiches. Again.

It’s no joke. It’s dinner!

Where to eat dinner is not a choice to make lightly. Dinner often comes at the end of a long day of decision making, beginning with what to wear to work, how to answer questions from clients and customers, how to respond to a child’s disobedience, and which bills to put off until next month. Dinner is a time to relax, refuel, reconnect with loved ones. If you decide to do that somewhere besides your own dining room, it is likely because you are too tired, rushed, or stressed to think about cooking. Still, what can be more stressful than trying to agree on a place to eat?

In my home town, there is one restaurant for approximately every 30 people. This means the question of where to eat supper is no joke. In fact, our county has added “Incompatible Dining Choices” to acceptable causes for divorce. Many couples I polled about this issue agreed that trying to decide where to eat often leads to arguments, rash decisions or even death by starvation.

Coming up with a system

I suggested to my friends that there should be a system, and they all laughed. All of them. But I still believe there is a way to answer the question without a fight.

Perhaps the better question to ask is, “Where DON’T you want to eat?” The answers may help you quickly narrow down your choices.

I don’t want to have to drive more than ten minutes to eat.

I don’t want pizza. Again. (or Chinese or Mexican or chicken sandwiches . . .)

I don’t want to eat where there is a bar or live entertainment.

I don’t want to eat at X because the service was terrible last time.

Or you could ask a different question altogether. Instead of “Where do you want to eat?” you can ask your partner:

Do you want to eat with a fork or with your hands?

Do you want to eat someplace new or one of our old standbys?

Would you prefer Italian, Mexican or Chinese?

What is our budget for dinner?

You may even make a list of questions and keep it in the glove box of your car. It may take more than one question, but by limiting the choices, you can quickly narrow down the answer. It is not unreasonable that deciding where to eat is a challenge when there are so many choices. However, finding a place to eat does not have to cost you your relationship.

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