This is one of the most feared questions a husband—or a boyfriend—can face. Never once in the history of the universe has a man asked his partner this question.

It’s not that we don’t care what our partner is thinking about—we just expect that if it’s something important, they’ll tell us.

But when your partner asks you this question, you’d better have a good answer. This is one of the most loaded questions you will have to answer during your relationship.

In my own experience, my wife asked this question the most. We would be lying there in bed, both tired after the day, just drifting off into blissful slumber. Or at least, I was drifting off. She was waiting, biding her time.

And then she would pounce.

What Are You Thinking About?

I would jerk away, somehow already in a cold sweat. Did she know I was fully awake now? Probably yes.

The question would resonate in my head:

“What are you thinking about?”

Now let me put that into my handy-dandy Wife Code Translation System:

beep…beep…boop…beep…beep…

TRANSLATION: “What are you thinking about in relation to what I think you SHOULD be thinking about? Caveat: if you’re not thinking about something that is important to me, then you’re going to be in trouble.”

I HATE THIS QUESTION. It’s a minefield.

So, how do you get out of it, you ask?

You have several options. There are many different categories to pull from.

Your Get Out of Jail Free Cards

I’ve had a bit of practice with the dreaded question, and I’ve learned that these are usually pretty safe. You may use them free of charge. And please, feel free to tweak them as you see fit.

Category 1: Love (my wife, children, my own family, my wife’s family)

“I was just thinking that we should have your parents over soon—we haven’t seen them in a while. What do you think?”

WARNING: DO NOT TALK ABOUT HOW MUCH YOU LOVE YOUR OWN MOTHER.

Category 2: Work

“I was just thinking about the project I’m working on and how to get it done efficiently. Do you have any ideas?”

Category 3: Life in General

“I was just thinking about how grateful I am to have you and the kids in my life. How did I get so lucky?”

Category 4: Information (and how it might relate to me or the family)

“I just read an article about how screen time negatively affects the kids. What do you think about limiting them to a couple hours a week?”

How This Strategy Works

The best way I’ve found to handle it is to throw a question back to her. This brings her into the conversation, and now it’s her responsibility to talk. She feels valued because I engage her, and I get to dodge a bullet.

DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES ANSWER HONESTLY!

This question is almost always asked once you are in bed and starting to drift off to sleep. When you lay down is when you’re most vulnerable. Be vigilant!

I have been asked this question many times, and if I answered honestly, it would most likely go like this:

WIFE: “What are you thinking about?”

ME: “Sexy lesbians.”

WIFE: “You’re sleeping on the couch. See you in the morning”

ME: “Shit.”

Answering this question is like playing basketball. You must be ready for the ball to be passed to you, no matter what. Sometimes it’s an easy pass you see coming, and sometimes it’s a no-look pass. Nevertheless, you have to expect it at all times so you’re ready when it comes.

And it will come.

Good luck and God speed.

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