You wanna bet!?

Minor squabbles over this and that happen all the time.  In the end, you often hear, “Wanna bet!?”  The bet may be over a fact, something that happened in the past, what someone said, or any number of other things.  People settle the immediate dispute by placing a wager on who is right, with the ante usually being a certain amount of money. With couples that have been together for even a little while, money very often loses its appeal as something to bet with.  One of the reasons may be that people throw their lot together and then usually switch from keeping score to not really caring all that much.  Money loses the zing that it commonly has with others.

Not that I’m trying to promote gambling, but I think it’s really lost opportunity that sporting betting between couples isn’t very common, because a good bet makes matters playful and intriguing.  Well, here’s an incentive you can use instead of money, a way of betting between mates that works out much better, better even than almost any other conceivable wager.

The two best “prizes” for winning a bet I’ve heard of are a surprise and a favor.  Let’s look at a surprise bet first.  You’re betting that whoever turns out to be wrong will have to surprise the other person, usually before the week is out.  I’m talking about a good surprise and not something spiteful or bitter!  With money, the amount of dollars indicates the confidence and consequence.  This element can be simulated with the surprise wager as well.  Use the qualifier of a little, medium, or huge surprise.  Betting for a surprise also serves to fulfill the need for predictability (the rules are known and agreed upon) and novelty (the surprise is unknown).  Both people usually have fun with it no matter who wins or loses, so the betting becomes fun almost regardless of which end of the stick you’re on.

The favor bet works a little differently.  Instead of being surprised by the loser, the winner chooses what the loser will do for them.  I use the word favor rather loosely, because a forced favor does not fit the definition.  Nonetheless, it is an entertaining wager.  If you use this bet, let me suggest a few parameters.  The “favor” must not get you into trouble.  It should have a time limit (like 10 minutes), which can vary depending on the gravity of the wager.  If it isn’t requested or used within a set period of time (1 week, for example), it expires.  If you make this kind of betting system part of your couple rituals, stipulate that the winner must agree to place a bet under reasonable circumstances again.  This last point is important, because otherwise someone could ask for some killer favor and then refuse to bet again.  No hostilities, just playfulness!  Otherwise it’s not the right couple ritual for you.


Principal Purposes Served

  • Build the relationship culture and history
  • Communicate values and beliefs
  • Foster trust
  • Help to accomplish tasks
  • Emotional money in the bank
  • Fulfills the need for predictability and novelty