"Hun, does my butt look big in these pants you just bought me?"
My husband looked wide-eyed and unsure, worried about what the dire outcome of such a question would be for him as a beloved husband and for me, as a woman, as his loving wife.
"No darling, I bought it in your size so it should be just right," I said and smiled.
The only thing that was going right, was my master plan!
I consider myself as one of the lucky women who married their childhood sweethearts.
I met my husband, Tien*, when we were both sports mates in the same tennis team in college.
Some of my friends thought of him as a dreamboat, and had even joked that he was my trophy boyfriend - hunky and good-looking, but not exactly the sharpest pencil in the box.
It was also his simple-mindedness that I love… and which I have also used against him.
Tien and I got married after a decade-long relationship, and as time went on, we became a contented domestic couple.
We bought a flat, had two lovely kids, Janelle* and Janey*, and held stable jobs.
I continued my love affair with tennis, and he, well, got a little too "prosperous" around the tummy.
Over the past few years, he had stopped playing any kind of sports and got too comfortable leading a sedentary lifestyle, taking on a love for fast food, a habit of frequently snacking and trawling the Internet for entertainment and sporting news.
At first, I thought nothing of him gaining weight and we even joked between ourselves that there was more of him to love.
But when some of our former schoolmates whom we still met up with started making jokes about how instead of taking after a tennis player, he had started taking on the shape of a tennis ball, I became concerned… not because of his physique, but about his weight and health.
I knew how sensitive he was about his body (he still has a sportsman's pride about his once-athletic build, even though it's now a "dad bod"), so I decided to persuade him to lose weight in less direct ways.
I encouraged him to eat less fried tidbits and more fruits because it was hip, to bring the kids to the public pool to teach them to swim, and even asked him to join me on my casual weekend afternoon tennis sessions.
Nothing worked; he would bring up excuses that he was too tired or that we should just spend quality time at home with the kids… and of course, his laptop and bagfuls of chips.
I decided that more "inventive" means were needed to "persuade" him.
So I concocted some plans.
They began as simple, white lies.
I purposefully bought all the snack items on my own, making sure that they contained less seasonings and artificial ingredients, and were prepared in less unhealthy methods.
I removed the original packaging and stored them in containers.
I would lie that the ones he wanted were sold out, that the ones I bought were on sale, that it was a new formula, or that the quality dropped when he questioned about any of them.
Luckily, he was not that discriminating about the snacks so he believed me.
And when he bought his own tidbits, I passed them to my kids and to my neighbours on the sly so that he would not get a chance to polish them off, and telling him barefaced, that they were simply "finished".
Tien also loved donuts, and I would throw out any unfinished boxes lying around so he could not eat more!
Then as time went on, the lies became more complicated and the acts, more deceitful.
I feigned all manners of illnesses, from colds to a woman's "time of the month" just to send him on errands such as ferrying the kids to all their classes and going grocery shopping, even undertaking extra, unnecessary supermarket trips.
I would pretend to be stubborn and insist on cooking food at home instead of eating out at the usual fast food joints.
He would give in and say nothing about my dishes' "healthier" taste, knowing better than to question my cooking lest I lose my temper.
I even bought him new T-shirts and underwear that were a size smaller so that he could not fit them properly in the hope that he would realise that, yes, he was putting on the pounds!
Thus far, these ideas have worked with Tien none-the-wiser.
I do feel a pinch of guilt about taking advantage of my husband's gullibility and resorting to such trickery, but I do not want to hurt his manly pride.
I have only good intentions and there is finally progress as he is slowly shedding inches.
I resolve that when the day comes when my husband goes from "uncle" to "hunkle", I will reveal all that I have done, but I know he will forgive me as it is all done for love.
*Names changed to protect privacy.
This article was first published in Singapore Women's Weekly.