You may have seen the news that men have been advised not to talk about sport in the office, as it excludes women. Well, similar but different news from our house - as of last weekend, I have been banned from talking during the rugby.
To be precise, I've been limited to three questions per match and three statements - e.g. 'I love the ref, don't you?' - which initially he wanted to count as one of the questions before we agreed statements were allowed too. I know. Unbelievable. It's rhetorical.
I can guess what you're thinking: you're thinking what? In 2020? But there it is. There are times when He doesn't want me to talk to him and there are things He doesn't want to talk about, at any time.
Probably, in very healthy relationships, both parties talk about anything whenever they want, but we have a list of banned or barely tolerated (by Him) topics. Including the following:
1. Any invitation to imagine something random such as: 'What do you think Prince Harry is doing now?'
With this type of question - one of our favourites - He will typically pretend not to have heard, or shrug, or, if tired, might say "let me give that some thought" in a slightly sarcastic voice.
The answer we are looking for, by the way, is something like: 'Wandering around a shopping mall, with Archie in a papoose, waiting for Meghan to finish her all-girls brunch.' (Following on from that, we would hope to have a conversation about starting life on the other side of the world where you have no family or friends and how the hell that is likely to work out. He knows this, of course).
2. "Am I too old for leather trousers?"
He hates this sort of question these days, or any question to do with clothes or appearance, on the basis that there is no right answer. Not true.
If He was to say 'Damn right you are, granny', then that would be a downer, but something along the lines of 'Don't be Silly! But then no-one looks good in leather trousers', we would be perfectly happy.
3. "What shall I have to drink?"
To be fair, this is not a question He used to get asked back in the day, when you got a hangover in direct proportion to how much alcohol you drank. Now that we could be bedridden after an unverified glass of white wine, or made absolutely livid by a thimble-sized cocktail, it's made us jumpy and prone to question our ability to look after our best interests.
He doesn't know the right answer, is his point. He thinks it's a six of one, half a dozen of the other question - and it's not like you're choosing curtain fabric. To us, it can feel like almost as big a deal as choosing curtain fabric.
4. Which curtain fabric shall we get?
He will not discuss anything to do with home furnishings on the basis that we will go ahead and do exactly what we want in the end. Also (He would argue) if He were to really focus on the merits of porridge versus flax, then pretty soon we would be shouting 'WHAT? I just showed you that one and you said it reminded you of nuns! You're not concentrating!'.
5. What if we ask the Things and the Whatsits, but the Whatsits can't come?
We'd like to talk about the possible outcomes of that particular crisis, but this is the conversation he refuses to have.
First, he doesn't get why it matters; second he will not be trapped into suggesting alternative solutions for fear of fanning the glowing embers of our social anxiety. Once he possibly said 'Well then we'll just ask the Others', and we had to remind him that Mrs Whatsit and Mr Other had a three year affair.
Those are the current no-go areas anyway.