Archive for Diabolical Husbandry

Anecdotal Precedent

Posted in Live-In Favorites with tags on April 29, 2011 by liveinhusband

They say that some men struggle to listen to their wives. I imagine it must be the same for wives listening to their husbands. After a while, our partner’s reaction to a situation will rarely come as a surprise, so why not tune out?

I’ll tell you why: anecdotal precedent.

Anecdotal precedent paid off big time for me this week when I was late picking up my wonderful wife.

To be honest, I am rarely late. I’m more likely to be ten to fifteen minutes early than I am to be even a minute late. But this time, I was at the gym, in the zone, and I lost track of time. I was almost fifteen minutes late picking up my wife, who I knew had already had a bad morning at work.

I was in trouble.

What to do?

Option #1: Speed as quickly as possible to minimize the damage.

I immediately discarded this option. For one, I was already late. Showing up a few minutes later wouldn’t change that in my wife’s mind. Also, throw in the risks of a speeding ticket or traffic accident and it was definitely not worth it.

Option #2: Excuses!

Well, I have been without a watch for a few weeks now, so how can I keep track of time?! My watch has an extremely thin clock face, which I love. However, jewelers will not change the battery in it because it is so fine. So I had to send it away and make do. What’s a watchless husband to do?

Discard. There are clocks at the gym and my wife pointing this out would not do me any favors.

Option #3: Admit to wrong doing, but do not apologize more than once.

I went with Option #3 the second I thought of it. I knew it would work because my wife recently told me a story about a woman that is always late, but never does anything more than admit to wrong doing. My wonderful wife thought this was a great way to act when one is late.

So I had her on anecdotal precedent.

And it worked!


The Politics of Cat Food on a Floor

Posted in Live-In Favorites with tags , on March 21, 2011 by liveinhusband

We inherited BBC, which is an acronym for Big Black Cat. My wife says that BBC is healthy, but he is very big and very obese. We’ve been running a fat-cat camp.

BBC always wants to eat, and he’s pretty smart at getting food.

We’ve tried just about everything, ranging from putting the food in the closet to transferring the food from its bag to a closed container. Still, we recently came home to discover the container had been burgled and its contents spread across the floor.

What’s impressive about this is that BBC seems to be choosing clever moments to strike. When we’ve gone to the gym on Sunday morning, BBC somehow realizes that his time has come. He takes out his tools and gets to work liberating cat food from storage containers. Because he has all the time in the world to rob us and we only have limited time to monitor the food stores, BBC has leverage over us.

That’s power.

But he’s a cat.

So we’ll just think about it for a few minutes and come up with a new system that is convenient but still BBC proof.

If only all power struggles could be so easily resolved. These struggles can occur with disobedient cats, but they can also occur in marriage, and in this case it’s unfortunate that my wife is smarter than her cat — not to mention her husband. I strongly dislike the idea that marriage can be likened to political maneuvering, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t power struggles in relationships.

Who’s going to clean up the cat food?

BBC most certainly isn’t my cat.

Possession is 9/10s of the law, but it avails me nothing in this situation.

One of my wife’s friends recently told me that the thing about cleanliness and marriage is that the person with the lower standards is the one with the power. On the whole, the person that prefers not to live in a toxic wasteland will go out of his or her way to keep things tidy.

I’m making a move for power.

I have just discovered that my wife doesn’t like it when the ironing board is left standing.

A house that smells like cat food?

No problem.

But put that ironing board away.

That’s leverage, and I’d bet that there’s more where that came from.

The Junk Room: The Perfect Place For Your Breadmaker

Posted in Live-In Favorites with tags on March 16, 2011 by liveinhusband

My wonderful wife tells me I’m cheap.

She’s right.

I am certainly willing to spend money on things once I see the value in having them, but it’s pretty tough to convince me that I need something that I’m managing without.

Still, I’ll be the first to admit that there are things that I was reluctant to buy but now enjoy having, including rugs and our recliner. Also, once I decide that I want to buy something, it’s pretty tough to talk me out of it.

Regardless, in our house there are definitely things that we do have but don’t need.

So I’ve created a junk room.

A junk room is like a filter or a way station. By using a junk room, a clever husband can rid himself of a great deal of his wife’s least useful possessions without going through the time-consuming process of nagging and negotiating with his wife about her useless possessions.

When I was single, I didn’t need a junk room.

I had a rubbish bin.

And a committee of one.

Now, I have a room dedicated to junk, by which I mean “things that my wife owns but doesn’t use — and has yet to notice are missing.”

The room itself had to be chosen with care, or else my wonderful wife would begin to wonder why she can see the floors and counters of our house. I chose the attic because no one likes climbing up stairs, it’s cold, and it’s naturally cluttered.

I’ve been getting ready for spring cleaning, so you’ll understand what I mean when I say that I’ve been making detailed plans for the junk room.

What should stay in the junk room?

What can I get away with getting rid of entirely?

What’s ready to move to the junk room?

I am happy to report that I successfully moved the bread maker into the junk room last weekend.

Now, I’m not saying that a bread maker is useless, but we could not have used it less since I moved in.

We don’t have any flour.

And we do have an oven.

So why the bread maker?

Still, it seems like a waste to just toss out a perfectly fine bread maker, which is why I was so pleased to learn that my sister-in-law’s birthday is coming up.

Something tells me she is genetically inclined to appreciate owning a bread maker…

Sock Scrunching, Recycling, and Subversion

Posted in Live-In Favorites with tags on March 11, 2011 by liveinhusband

“A teacher is a person who never says anything once.”

Howard Nemerov

The same thing could be said about husbands.

(And wives, I suppose.)

Sometimes, I think that “Happily Ever After” really means “Happily Ever Nagging.”

For example, my wife tries to get me to unscrunch my socks before I throw them in the laundry (they dry better if they’re unsrunched). It’s tough, unscrunching socks, particularly if you grew up scrunching them. However, my wife is insistent on doing the laundry so that it gets done “her way,” so I try to accommodate her sock preferences.

My wife is bad at recycling, but only with paper and cardboard.

When I say “bad at recycling,” I don’t mean that she throws paper into the trash. She just doesn’t throw paper away, and she never unfolds boxes so that there is room in the recycling bin for more than one box. I try not to nag. It just seems better to resign myself to going through our cardboard recycling every other day so that the boxes are all unfolded.

To be honest, though, I really hate going through our mail.

I moved to be with her, so just a little less than 100% of our mail is addressed to my wife. Banana Republic is having a sale. Ann Taylor is having a sale. Every shoe store in the Greater New York Area is having a sale!

Some of these fliers must be important.

Why else would we get so many of them?

Normally, I remind myself that I scrunch my socks when I sort through our stack of mail at the end of the week. This morning, things went a little too far. This morning I woke up to find a stack of fliers on my desk.

The message seemed to be: recycle this.

It’s time to get subversive.

To start, I’m sending all fliers to the bottom of the recycling box, rather than to our stack of mail.

Would it be going too far to hack my wife’s email account, find emails from these companies, and click the “don’t send [your address] updates of [our] sales?”

Because I’m ready to do what it takes.

Rinsing Dishes, Brushing Teeth, and Mental Decline

Posted in Live-In Favorites with tags , on February 4, 2011 by liveinhusband

My beautiful wife is a little older than I am.

(If my hair continues to fall out at its current rate, it won’t be long before I look much older than she does.)

Sometimes I tease her about her “wise years,” but I’ve recently come up with a new way to take advantage of this dynamic.

My wife never remembers to rinse the dishes, probably because she grew up that way. They say smoking is one of the toughest habits to drop, but I’m beginning to think that the things we learn during our childhood are the most difficult things to change about ourselves. My wife never learned to rinse dishes, which probably wouldn’t bother me if it weren’t my job now to wash the dishes. However, washing dishes is my job, and dried food is gross and difficult to scrub. Worse, coffee rings stain coffee mugs.

(Why must they make all dishes white?)

Normally, I just follow my wife around the house and take her coffee mugs to the sink when she appears to have forgotten about them. However, I’m only one husband.

To save our dishes and to save myself a lot of scrubbing, I’ve been trying to help my wife to overcome her upbringing.

In fairness to my wonderful wife, it should be noted that we all have these shortcomings. For example, during my last cleaning, my dentist told me that I shouldn’t brush so hard because it can cause my gums to retreat. To be honest, when I brush, I am on “autopilot,” which means “scrubbing plaque like hell.” It has been a difficult habit to break.

But perhaps it’s worthwhile.

My yoga teacher tells our class that we should try brushing with our non-dominant hand to keep our brain healthy. I suppose that the implication is that thinking about things that we usually don’t think about can be good for the brain.

Who knows why a yoga instructor would say this?

Who knows whether it’s true?

Who cares?

I value statements like these because they allow me to avoid nagging my wife to rinse the dishes.

Instead, I can lovingly suggest that rinsing dishes will help to slow her mental decline.

Organic Gift Giving, No Jewelry, and Sherlock Holmes

Posted in Live-In Favorites with tags on December 22, 2010 by liveinhusband

My wife views all these wishlists as a corrupting influence on the tradition of giving presents. “If you make a list and you don’t get what’s on it, you won’t feel grateful.” Consequently, my wife and her sister don’t make lists. Instead, they make themes (one year, my sister-in-law’s theme was “Purple”) for each other. It’s like organic gift giving.

My parents are very modern, so I was raised in a wishlist family.

I’ve been challenging my wife a lot on her “just be grateful” views. Thankfully, she is really backing herself into a corner on this one.

You see, this year I decided not to get my wife any jewelery for Christmas — or for her January birthday.

Last year, I went way over my budget to buy my wife a pretty substantial chunk of the earth, which she now wears around her neck about once per month. This year, and here’s the beauty part, I’m going to give in to my wife and her sister’s organic giving idea. No lists. Just gratitude and fuzzy happiness.

And no jewelry.

After all, giving is not about receiving material goods.

At least not for my wife.

I love material objects, perhaps because I have very few. You have to admit that it’s fun to guess what’s waiting under the wrapping paper. If nothing else, it’s a pastime that happily takes me back to my childhood. On the other hand, it’s a little irritating when you give people a gift and they say “I had a feeling you’d get me something like this.”

Sure they had a feeling.

So I’m laying it down.

I think my wonderful wife will get me one of the following:

  • Tickets to Iron & Wine
  • Beer of the month membership
  • Kindle
  • Sweaters
  • Gift certificate for personal training at the gym.

I know a lot of people take the rattle & shake approach, but I’ve made my predictions following the advice of Sherlock Holmes. Holmes can look at dirt on a person’s shoe and tell where they’ve been. Although I’m not that sharp, I think that people tend to give presents based on shared experiences, especially if that person has a disdain for lists. So I’ve asked myself how my wife and I spend our time together.

Basically, we go out for nachos and chicken wings on a fairly regular basis, which is why we need to go to the gym. When we’re not doing that, we spend a lot of time reading while listening to music.

As for sweaters, well, perhaps I’ve eaten too many nachos.

Try following this method, and let me know what you’re getting for Christmas.

How To Shop With Your Wife

Posted in Live-In Favorites with tags , on December 20, 2010 by liveinhusband

The last time we went shopping together for her clothing, my wonderful wife took nearly an hour to buy herself a sweater. She tricked me again, and I recently found myself wandering around a mall while waiting for her to buy a pair of pants (“they’re on sale!”). After browsing every shop in the mall, I came back and caught my wife checking out sweaters.

I was not interested in waiting another hour, so I decided to take a shot:

“That color won’t look good on you. Or anyone, for that matter.”

In my opinion, this was true, but here’s the thing:

My wonderful wife put the sweater back on the rack immediately — no vacillation — and she went to pay for the pants that were on sale.

How did I reach this milestone?

After coats and scarves, the next step in my fashion odyssey was sweaters. I approached sweaters with a few general guidelines.

  1. Hoodies don’t go well with wool coats unless you want to be ID’d at the pub.
  2. Sweaters serve a purpose beyond warmth.
  3. Pay attention to the fit near the shoulders, the length, and avoid baggyness and bunching elsewhere.
  4. Color matters.

I took my wife along for her expert advice, but I began to be more assertive in my evaluation of sweaters. I could see that I was beginning to pass a test in my wife’s eyes.

I had earned the right to speak, and it hadn’t been that difficult.

Here are some starter comments diabolical husbands can try at home:

  • “Really, that color is in style?”
  • “I like this color, but I prefer the collar on this shirt. I wonder if they have both. Where’s the salesperson?”
  • “It’s OK, but what would you wear that with?”

I think the trick may be to avoid saying only positive or negative things. Focus on helping your wife to make decisions quickly. With practice, you’ll get to a point where you can also manipulate your partner into buying less expensive sweaters.

Good luck.