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What you are about to read is top secret, so please ensure no woman sees this article. I write this as a caution against having a loose tongue in the company of our significant others, as a recent incident involving me and my big mouth made me realize. Being a man, you will know all about the playful games we get up with our wives or girlfriends. No, not those sort of games; the messing I’m talking about doesn’t happen in the bedroom. I’m talking about the subtle, self-serving manipulation that takes place in a relationship. It’s harmless stuff but it involves tactics, planning and anticipation, much like the qualities needed by a decent football manager. For those of you who are scratching your heads in puzzlement at this point, then be sure to read on as you are about to learn some valuable lessons. For the rest of you, well, this shall remain our little secret right?

A couple called to our house the other evening, friends of long standing and so we opened a bottle of wine and grabbed a few beers from the fridge. ‘Do you want to have a few drinks? I don’t mind driving,’ he said to her. As the more experienced of you will know, this is a classic opening move and one that, when executed convincingly, will guarantee that you can enjoy a few drinks and get chauffeured home and everyone is happy. How? You see, many of us will be familiar with the arguments over who gets to drink and who gets to drive. A basic rule of thumb is that if you’re visiting friends of hers, then she has the option of a few glasses, whereas if it’s your mate’s house you’re calling to, then you get to enjoy a tipple. However, if you all know each other equally then you’ve a bit more plea bargaining to do. (This is why pregnancy is so brilliant: they can’t drink for nine months, it’s like having your own personal driver.)

A surprisingly good solution to this recurring dispute is to disarm the lady with the question quoted above, so let’s go back to that evening I mentioned. He asked her if she’d like to have a glass of wine, offering to drive later. She was delighted, needless to say, and turned to my wife and expressed how surprising it was that he would be so thoughtful. They carried on with this patronizing demeaning banter for a few minutes, until I accidentally blurted out the ulterior motive. ‘Oh don’t mind him,’ I waded in with my size tens, ‘He’s offering to drive because he knows you’ll be so impressed by it, that you’ll consider it for a few moments but then return the offer back to him as a reward for his thoughtfulness, so to speak’.

Yeah, I know, I really put my foot in it. This gem of reverse psychology is one of our best kept secrets and here I was giving it all away! Thankfully the women weren’t listening; they were too busy talking about us as if we were a pair of unruly toddlers. My friend shot me a glance, however, that pretty much let me know I had committed a cardinal sin. The upshot was he was able to enjoy a few bottles of beer, his good lady being so touched by the generosity of the offer. What does that say about the low expectations of the Irish woman? Does she feel that we are inherently selfish or out for a good time for ourselves only? Of course we aren’t, that’s the beauty of the situation. We are essentially very caring creatures, but we’ve learned that a little bit of skilful manipulation goes a long way. Surely this isn’t a crime?

The thing is, when the ladies of our lives are let off the driving duties they often squander the opportunity by sipping disinterestedly at a bottle of lager, consuming just over the legally accepted amount and then deciding they’ve had enough for the evening. No, I’m not saying they should get hammered; that would be immature and irresponsible. But I think you fellows know the point I’m making.

The reverse psychology works surprisingly well in other situations too. Him: ‘Tell you what; let’s invite your parents for Sunday dinner’. Her: ‘Oh really? That’s so thoughtful! But I know you really want to go to the pub and watch the match, so we’ll do that.’ Try it out for yourself, I guarantee you’ll be amazed at the results. As Michael Scott from the brilliantly funny U.S. version of The Office once said: ‘Reverse psychology is an awesome tool, basically you can make someone think the opposite of what you believe, and that tricks them into doing something stupid. Works like a charm.’

But whatever you do, do not let this information fall into the wrong hands. Female hands.

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