Home
I wonder if you could build an app that would help husbands pretend to be thoughtful and caring. For example, one feature might automatically start every text message to your wife with "I'm sorry, honey ..."

You might think an apology is only necessary when you've done something wrong. That's how bad husbands think. Good husbands understand that there are only two possible states:

1.       Already in trouble.

2.       Blundering into a trap.

Let's say your wife texts you and asks you to pick up milk on the way home from work. You assume you have done nothing wrong and therefore, logically, an apology is unnecessary. Moreover, you think your wife should be thanking you for running this errand. But watch how the "I'm sorry honey" at the beginning of your text response alerts you to the trap and steers you toward the illusion of husbandly thoughtfulness.

Your Text Response: "I'm sorry, honey. . .  I should have noticed this morning that we were low on milk."

Or...

You: "I'm sorry, honey, but I can't remember which kind of milk we use even though I have seen it ten thousand times."

Without the "I'm sorry, honey" prompt you might inadvertently text your actual thoughts. And that might go something like this:

You: "Maybe you can do that tomorrow when you get the other groceries. The kids' bones won't dissolve overnight."

The Better Husband App could also include a timer to remind you when it's time to compliment your wife. The app could even suggest clever ways to word your compliments so you don't fall into a trap such as this one.

You: "You look sensational today, honey."

Wife: "Today?"

A smarter compliment is the indirect method. You embed your compliment in what seems to be an entirely different topic. Example:

You: "Why do all of your girlfriends look so much older than you? Is it because they don't know how to work out?"

What other features should the Better Husband App have?

 
Rank Up Rank Down Votes:  +206
  • Print
  • Share
  • Share:

Comments

Sort By:
-2 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 2, 2011
If you wife wants nothing from you but a constant stream of apologies, maybe you need a better wife, not a Better Husband app.

Dude, not funny. If you reversed the genders in this post, every advice columnist from here to Bangkok would say a man demanding constant obsequious apologies from a woman was at best verbally abusive.

I'll apologize for true transgressions (as we all should), but for such ridiculously trivial stuff, if they want total blind obedience and submission, they should either get a dog or become a dominatrix. There, problem solved. ;)
 
 
Mar 1, 2011
I know that I often excoriate you in these posts, but that's because you richly deserve it. If your logic was less convoluted and more rational, the discourse would be far less pointed.

However, this time I can only stand in awe of one of the best posts (and ideas) you've ever had. I'd also like to mention that you have come so very far in your understanding of the proper role of husbands than you were when you were a newlywed.

I don't know if you recall, but shortly after your nuputals you wrote a post asking for advice concerning how to handle one of the challenges of marriage; something along the lines of "volunteering" to do some task your wife wanted you to do and you really didn't want to do. I gave you some incredibly good advice on that, and mentioned how really naive you were on how these interactions could be worked to your advantage.

I can tall you now that you've come a long way, baby. Your app would outsell every other app in the App Store, were it a reality.

Here's one other thing it should do, and you should do as well: remember that men are problem solvers. When a woman comes to you with a problem, your hard-wired response is to try to solve it. Take note, and heed well: THAT'S NOT WHAT THEY WANT! When a woman comes to anyone with a problem, she doesn't want it solved; she wants you to commiserate with her. Your app should prompt you to say something like, "That must be very difficult for you, dear."

Keep up the good work!
 
 
-16 Rank Up Rank Down
Feb 26, 2011
"[Watch the votes. -- Scott]"? Argumentum ad populum fallacy anyone? And Dilbert's recent strips have been about legal matters. Try to be logical.

"[Said the single guy. -- Scott]"? How childish can you be? I have a girlfriend myself, and I think this is pretty sexist, or at least just really, really silly. Not all women are irrational attention-loving high-maintenance egotists, although maybe all the ones you've chosen to have experiences with are for some reason relating to your own self.

Your posts are getting increasingly silly. One less RSS feed on my reader. When a post of yours gets on Hacker News, maybe I'll read it, but I'm done with your sillyness. I don't care what generation you are, childish stuff like this is embarrassing.

I welcome down- or up- votes. Anger-click away.
 
 
Feb 25, 2011
Can you say, "Whipped"?
 
 
Feb 25, 2011
will it have a vibrate option?
 
 
Feb 25, 2011
My wife just called me during reading this, and suggested we have chicken for dinner, so I said "I'm sorry, I didn't realise you wanted chicken for dinner". This didn't even seem odd to her.
 
 
Feb 25, 2011
Fledder -- OK, first of all, you're clearly not taking this post (and the resulting comments) in the tongue-in-cheek manner it was obviously intended.

Second, you need to work on your reading comprehension. Nowhere did I say I have to ask for permission to go out; I don't.

Third, you're missing the point, which is that what men consider to be a "reasonable frequency" is usually very different than what their wives perceive. Part of the reason for that is that they are measuring it in different ways. He is counting it as "the number of times I could go out versus the number of times I actually do". She is counting it as "the number of times my husband is potentially sitting next to some bar floozy looking to get out of paying her tab". My suggestion was a way to get the two on the same page.

Fourth, and this is the less tongue-in-cheek portion, being in a relationship is ALL ABOUT asking permission, explicitly or not. When you enter into a relationship you are agreeing to take another person's needs and feelings into account when making decisions. Every time you do something, you are asking your partner if it is OK to do it, regardless of whether or not you actually say the words. You do the same for yourself, it's just that it is such an automatic process that you don't even realize it most of the time. Internalizing that two people have to be OK with your actions is the key to having a successful relationship.
 
 
+13 Rank Up Rank Down
Feb 25, 2011
In addition to this app, I need an app to help with an even more volatile species, the teenage daughter. Often it is critical to be a better husband, the teenage daughter species must be handled with utmost care and caution for when they combine forces, one can be completely blindsided with hormonal rage beyond comprehension! At a minimum Scott, add a loop to the programming that allows for such an adaptation.
 
 
+18 Rank Up Rank Down
Feb 25, 2011
You've really learned fast haven't you? It took a few years for me to realise that a married man can be wrong in ways you never dream of. Like:
Q - What time is it?
A - What happened to that expensive watch I bought you??
Q - Shall we go out to eat tonight?
A- So you don't like my cooking then????
Q - I could use some help with the gardening/decorating/driving
A - And just when do you think I get the time to help with anything?? If you would only open your eyes and see how much I do around here, you'd know I don't get a minute to myself. And another thing ............
 
 
-1 Rank Up Rank Down
Feb 25, 2011
"For all those "real men" blogposters critical of Scott's post, and who insist they can do what they want, without having to ask permission, .....etc etc etc"

You can be a real man and still care and take care of her needs you know, I'm just not willing to bow to those needs and she does not need to bow to mine either.
 
 
+6 Rank Up Rank Down
Feb 24, 2011
A straightforward apologies app would be nice.

Sort of like www.freeapologies.com, but for personal relationships.

Something that would explain the difference between, "I'm sorry but when dinner is late like that, I get cranky" and "I'm sorry. I should never have referred to your cooking as 'slop.' From now on I will own up to my low blood sugar issues and recognize that I am capable of feeding myself when I first walk in the door to stave off the sort of truly bad judgment that has resulting in my sleeping in the garage tonight."
 
 
Feb 24, 2011
I would like to know why my attempts to comment on this blog are now 0 for 3.
 
 
Feb 24, 2011
Love it! Very funny.

For all those "real men" blogposters critical of Scott's post, and who insist they can do what they want, without having to ask permission, I say "me thinks doth protest too much"! There is some value in having a wife who wants you around, even if it interferes with happy hour, poker, or laying on the coach watching sports. When I figure out the three wrong things to say and successfully come up with the one correct thing, I have that same feeling of satisfaction as making par on a hard par four. The challenge was hard, and my skills were up to the challenge.

A relationship worth having is often a relationship that isn't always easy to figure out or even just easy. Easy gets boring after a decade or so.
 
 
+23 Rank Up Rank Down
Feb 24, 2011
About all these comments criticizing the idea that husbands might need some help remembering to demonstrate caring - wonder how many of these folks are successfully married...?

The only mistake in this post is to assume that this app would help husbands "pretend" to be thoughtful and caring. In fact, lots of husbands do think about and care about their wives, but need coaching to express this in some way that will be recognizable to women. And yes, women probably need an app to remind them that husband getting up early to scrape ice off the car is thoughtful, even if not romantic.

Maybe what's needed is a translation app? One below-freezing car defrosting = 2 for-no-reason flower bouquets?
 
 
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Feb 24, 2011
What about combining the illusion of husbandly thoughtfulness and actual thoughts parts:
""I'm sorry, honey, but Maybe you can do that tomorrow when you get the other groceries. The kids' bones won't dissolve overnight."
 
 
-3 Rank Up Rank Down
Feb 24, 2011
"My added feature would be something that automatically forwarded to your wife all the "go out drinking" email threads/requests that you turn down. Every week I get probably a half-dozen, but rarely ever act on them. I make a point of mentioning these to my wife, "Oh, so-and-so wanted to get together tonight but I'd rather be at home." This helps build your credibility for those times when you do want to go out. "

You need to grow credibility? What kind of relationships are you people in? How about going out to drink with your friends on a reasonable frequency without asking for any damn permission. I assume you are a grown man. Why do you think you need to answer to anybody assuming you behave reasonably?

[It looks like you've solved the problem of how to get your wife to want less time with you at home. -- Scott]
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Feb 24, 2011
Wives like it when you do nice things “out of the blue”. Another way of saying “out of the blue”…randomly. The app should have a random number generator to decide when you:

Buy flowers (1800flowers if you are rich, a reminder to stop at a grocery store if you are not)
Pick up her favorite food
Hide a nice note
Buy her a song or app you “thought she would like”
Offer to go to a chick flick/museum/whatever
Massage
What am I forgetting here?

The programmers could come up with a good algorithm for making the frequency of each “considerate event” customizable and having the probability of each event increase based on the amount of time since it last came up.
 
 
Feb 24, 2011
Trying making an app that helps guys be thoughtful and caring without being a pansy at the same time.

[Said the single guy. -- Scott]
 
 
Feb 24, 2011
My added feature would be something that automatically forwarded to your wife all the "go out drinking" email threads/requests that you turn down. Every week I get probably a half-dozen, but rarely ever act on them. I make a point of mentioning these to my wife, "Oh, so-and-so wanted to get together tonight but I'd rather be at home." This helps build your credibility for those times when you do want to go out.
 
 
Feb 24, 2011
a better husband/boyfriend app is a genius idea, especially from someone like Scott who offers advice that is actually useful. after reading his many useful marriage/relationship tips, i was going to suggest that Scott write a book about relationship advice, but then i realized that no warm-blooded male would be caught dead reading a relationship self-help book (except maybe as a pdf on a smart phone) so an app would be the perfect solution. let's make it happen!
 
 
 
Get the new Dilbert app!
Old Dilbert Blog