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How do you know when your spouse/significant other is upset?

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5:45 am

KID: Mom? MOM!
MOM: What are you doing out of bed?
KID: I woke up.
MOM: Then go back to sleep.
KID: I’m not tired.
MOM: I don’t care if you’re not tired, it’s the middle of the night.
KID: It doesn’t feel like the middle of the night.
MOM: What time does the clock on my nightstand say?
KID: 12:01.
MOM: 12:01?!?!?!
KID: I accidentally tripped over the cord when I was coming over, sorry.
MOM: What does the clock on your father’s nightstand say?
KID: I don’t know. Dad? DAD!
MOM: No! Don’t wake him!
DAD: Too late, I’m already up.
KID: Do you know what time it is?
DAD: I can’t see the clock without my glasses.
MOM: It says 5:45.
DAD: It can’t be 5:45, it’s too dark outside.
MOM: It’s dark because the days are getting shorter.
DAD: But we just went on Daylight Saving Time last night!
KID: What’s Daylight Saving Time?
MOM: It’s when you change the clocks so you get more light during the day.
DAD: Yeah – “Spring forward” and “Fall back,” which means it’s not 5:45, it’s 6:45.
MOM: You mean it’s not 5:45, it’s 4:45.
DAD: That’s what I said.
MOM: No, you said it was 6:45 not 5:45.
DAD: Well… that’s what I meant.
MOM: Except that I remembered to change the clock, so it’s actually 5:45.
KID: Do I still have to go back to bed then?
DAD: No, because I remembered to change the clock, too, so that means it’s…
KID: 3:45?!?!?
MOM: No, because your father always gets Daylight Saving Time backwards, so even though I changed the clock back an hour your father probably changed the clock forward, which means if it says 5:45, it’s actually 4:45.
KID: I’m really confused.
DAD: Me, too – and I didn’t get Daylight Saving Time backwards this time, I totally forgot about it.
MOM: Then why did you say you changed the clock?
DAD: Because you always make such a big deal over the fact that you remember and I forget.
MOM: So rather than come clean, you lied?
DAD: No.
MOM: You didn’t lie?
DAD: Like you said… I have such a bad memory, I just forgot the truth.
MOM: Don’t get sarcastic.
DAD: You’re the one who started it.
MOM: Me?
DAD: I was asleep.
MOM: So everything is my fault?
DAD: Not everything.
KID: Excuse me – before you continue, can somebody just tell me what time it really is?
BOTH: 5:45.
KID: Good.
MOM: Why is that good?
KID: Because I think you’re both gonna need the extra hour you have before you need to get up to figure out what you’re really fighting about.


WIFE: What’s wrong?
HUSBAND: Nothing.
WIFE: You sure?
HUSBAND: Positive. Why do you keep asking me?
WIFE: You look like you’re angry.
HUSBAND: I don’t feel angry.
WIFE: But you look angry.
HUSBAND: But I’m not angry.
WIFE: If you say so.
WIFE: So there’s nothing you’re upset about?
WIFE: Nothing you’re not telling me?
WIFE: Nothing you’re gonna stew about for the next few days and then finally admit to me this weekend has been bothering you all week?
HUSBAND: No. Do you want me to be mad?
HUSBAND: I think you do.
WIFE: I do not.
HUSBAND: Don’t get so defensive.
WIFE: Stop attacking me.
HUSBAND: You’re the one who’s attacking me.
WIFE: Only because you lied.
HUSBAND: About what?
WIFE: About being angry!
HUSBAND: I’m only angry because you made me angry.
WIFE: So you do admit you’re angry?
WIFE: I knew it.


As a parent, time is precious. So how do you make the most of it? Time management experts offer the following advice:

1. Prioritize.
2. Delegate/outsource.
3. Set time limits for tasks.
4. Establish routines and stick to them.
5. Don’t waste time waiting.

At first glance, these suggestions seem simple and straight-forward, but when you actually try to implement them you quickly realize they are better suited to some kind of parallel “self-help dimension” where the laws of time, space and sibling in-fighting don’t apply.

1. Prioritize.

In theory, yes. In practice – forget it.

Take, say, the tasks of treating an injury versus giving a toddler a bath. Typically, bleeding kids come first, unless they’re bleeding because they did the thing you told them not to do five times, in which case the toddler would get the bath. If the bleeding kid is bleeding on furniture, however, then the furniture needs immediate attention.

On the other hand, if there’s only a little bleeding and it’s not on any furniture, then that might not be as important as preventing the toddler from trying to bathe himself.

2. Delegate/outsource.

Which means what? Parents are supposed to ship their kids off to India to get help with their homework?

3. Set time limits for tasks.

Okay. But what is the appropriate time limit for a temper tantrum? And if getting everybody ready in the morning takes 15 minutes longer than whatever amount of time you set aside – whether it’s 40 minutes or two hours – how are you supposed to limit that? Or if you make reservations for that one night out a year you get a leisurely three hours to eat, what happens when the babysitter is 20 minutes late and the restaurant gives up your table?

4. Establish routines and stick to them.

Most parents already do this, but it doesn’t seem to help. For example, a typical morning routine would be telling the kids to get up, get in the shower, get dressed, get some breakfast and get in the car, then repeating this three or four times over the course of 20 minutes before threatening them with some kind of bodily harm if they don’t do all of the above RIGHT THIS MINUTE!

This is followed by the nagging suspicion that something that was supposed to have been done last night wasn’t, and the sudden realization that this “something” was making lunches for all the kids.


As there is now not nearly enough time left to do everything and still get off on time, vows that “This will never happen again!” must be shouted so that all in the house can hear, spouses must be silently cursed for not helping, and God must be asked “Why me? What have I done to deserve this?”

5. Don’t waste time waiting.

Clearly this was not written by anyone living in a small house with kids. How else is a parent supposed to get into the bathroom?

From “Why Chicken Nuggets are Better Than Prozac.”


Network censors demanded separate beds for “The Dick Van Dyke Show” because they felt it was inappropriate for the married couple portrayed by Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore to sleep together.

(Raising the question of exactly how son Richie came about, but never ad- dressing it.)

It seemed silly at the time, and even more silly when the 70s hit and the sexual revolution took hold, but now more and more couples are starting to think “Hey, maybe those network censors had it right after all!”

According to experts, the main benefit of a couple having separate bedrooms is they both get more sleep because neither gets awakened by the other’s snoring… getting up every hour to pee… tossing and turning… general inabil- ity to tip-toe… and so on.

On the negative side… well… when you’re getting more sleep, is there really anything negative?

Note: While there is concern that separate bedrooms could impact intimacy and romance, that’s only for couples without children, as couples with chil- dren almost certainly gave those up shortly after their first child was con- ceived, and now fully embrace the idea of separate bedrooms if for no other reason than when you both sleep in the same bed, both of you wind up with no room to move around when your kids file in after dark because they had a bad dream or heard something scary in the closet.

From “Why Chicken Nuggets are Better Than Prozac.”


…the answer is “NO!,” regardless of whether the question was “Are you up- set?” or “Can I go to the potty?”

…you call your kids by the wrong names. Or worse – by the dog’s.

…simple things become infinitely complicated, to the point where microwaving chicken nuggets takes an hour.

…you can’t remember if it’s your day to do the pick-up, and if you think it is, it isn’t, and if you think it isn’t, it is.

…you try to play hide ‘n’ seek but fall asleep in the upstairs hall closet.

…your spouse is “in the mood” and doesn’t understand why you’re not.

…somebody throws up, bleeds on something, or has “an accident.”

…non-parents suggest you just put the kids to bed early and get some sleep, but you’re too tired to tell them what a massively stupid and unrealistic idea that is.

…telemarketers call every few minutes asking you to donate.

…helping your kids with their homework proves so stressful and challenging, it makes you cry, even though it’s just addition.

…you don’t realize you’re yelling at your kids until everybody else in the supermarket aisle starts to stare.

…you push on, because you’re a parent and that’s what parents do.



For most families, Daylight Saving Time turns what’s typically a frantic, time-crunched mess of morning activity into a domestic version of roller derby, with everyone throwing elbows and accusations as they scramble to get dressed and get out the door:

RESPONSIBLE SPOUSE: You said you were gonna change the clock.
IDIOT: I did.
RESPONSIBLE SPOUSE: Then why does it still say 7:40 when it’s really 8:40?
IDIOT: I guess I forgot.
RESPONSIBLE SPOUSE: Right — you forgot, so I’m late.
IDIOT: You could have changed it, too.
RESPONSIBLE SPOUSE: I changed all the other clocks!
IDIOT: That’s my point: why didn’t you remind me to change this one while you were changing all the others?
IDIOT: Well… I guess I didn’t hear you.

According to wikipedia, Daylight Saving Time, which was standardized across most of the United States in 1967, was primarily intended to reduce energy consumption — the “extra” hour of daylight in the afternoon was supposed to mean fewer lights would have to be on at offices, retailers, restaurants etc.

But when you consider how most people react when the Daylight Saving Time-bomb goes off, it’s more likely that any energy savings will be more than off-set by the increased consumption caused by all the stupid things people do when their sleeping patterns get disrupted.

What’s the net-effect of having to make two extra trips to the grocery store — the first because you accidentally left your list at home, and the second because you accidentally left your kid there?

Or what about having to replace a freezer full of food because just after you opened the door to sneak some ice cream for breakfast, you realized the soccer game you thought was next weekend, wasn’t, but that if you left RIGHT NOW! you might still make it?

Or what about having to run an electric air pump off and on all night because otherwise the slightly-leaky inflatable mattress in the den you’ve been banished to because you said one-too-many mean things to your spouse will deflate?

IDIOT: If you reminded me to change the clock, then why didn’t I change it?
RESPONSIBLE SPOUSE: Because you’re an idiot!
IDIOT: Me? If anyone’s an idiot, you are — and not just because of the clock.
IDIOT: Yes, really. Do you have any idea how many stupid things you do around here on a daily basis?
RESPONSIBLE SPOUSE: No, but why don’t you tell me.

Net energy savings: probably zero

And what happens when you factor in the cost of dealing with all that stress, ill-will and negativity? Therapists — whether for marriage or anger-management — don’t make house calls (and if they do, they don’t make them on bikes).

There are bars for sulking/hiding/venting, of course, but they generally don’t have windows, meaning light (but not illumination) comes only from energy-sucking neon signs.

The gym? Maybe in the old days when free weights and stationary bikes were the norm, but now it seems like every piece of exercise equipment has to be plugged in or it won’t work.

Net energy savings: definitely zero

All of which raises the question: if Daylight Saving Time doesn’t actually save anything, what’s the point?

Perhaps the one good thing about Daylight Saving Time is that between all the extra caffeine it takes to get through the day and the fact that no matter how late the clock says it is, it’s impossible to sleep, everyone affected by it can spend half the night staring at the ceiling trying to figure that out.


WIFE: Where you going?
HUSBAND: I thought I’d run out and get some Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough.
WIFE: What about our post-holiday diet?
HUSBAND: We finished it.
WIFE: Yeah — yesterday.
HUSBAND: Which means today I can finally eat what I want to.


WIFE: Never mind.
WIFE: Forget it. It’s not important.
HUSBAND: What’s not important?
WIFE: Nothing.
HUSBAND: Now you’re confusing me: how can I forget about the “nothing” that’s not important if I don’t know what it is?
WIFE: I don’t want to talk about it.
HUSBAND: Then why did you bring it up?
WIFE: Because right after I did I saw our entire argument play out in my head.
WIFE: You won.
WIFE: And then you reacted the same way you’re reacting now: like you couldn’t care less what the argument was all about as long as you won.


It seems like there are two kinds of divorces: the ones where the split is amicable, or at least free from a restraining order, and the ones you get caught in the middle of – where the pain, hatred, contempt, frustration, mistrust and loathing go on long after the marriage ends.

Staying neutral can be a challenge for even the most savvy and diplomatic, but usually – eventually – you’re sucked in:

BITTER EX-HUSBAND: Can you believe my ex-wife! She’s such a selfish, spoiled, careless, mean, stupid, cow. Don’t you think?
YOU: Uh… I couldn’t say.
BITTER EX-HUSBAND: Trust me, she is. I’m sure you’ve seen her act that way. You can admit it, she’s a heartless, bossy, mean-spirited, nitpicking, ego-centric, man-hating shrew.
YOU: I.. uh… I guess I haven’t really seen that side of her, but.. uh… I’m sure you know here better than I do.
BITTER EX-HUSBAND: ‘course I know her: I was married to her. And trust me: she’s a first class bitc-
YOU: Hey! Will you look at the time? I really have to go.
BITTER EX-HUSBAND: What’s your problem? You’re on her side, aren’t you?
YOU: I’m not on anyone’s side.
BITTER EX-HUSBAND: My God, she’s turned you against me, too.
YOU: I barely even know her.
BITTER EX-HUSBAND: Yeah, right – you think she’s a saint and I’m an abusive, controlling, foul-mouthed jerk.
YOU: Uh…
BITTER EX-HUSBAND: That’s the exactly the same thing she’s done to our friends, that clueless therapist she dragged us to go see, her lawyer, the neighbors, even my kids. Well you know what? Screw you.

As ugly as these conversations can be, at least they don’t require you to anything more than walk away. What can be worse is when you’re pressed into service:

BITTER EX-WIFE: Say, I’ve been meaning to ask you: you see my ex-husband when he picks up the kids, right?
YOU: Yeah, at the playground after school.
BITTER EX-WIFE:: Interesting.
YOU: Uh-oh.
BITTER EX-WIFE:: I say “interesting” because I’m hearing some things that are just a little troubling.
YOU: I’m sorry to hear that.
BITTER EX-WIFE: Not troubling because I still secretly want him back, or blame him for ruining my life and am looking for ways to exact revenge, but because I’m concerned the children might be exposed to something inappropriate.
YOU: Uh…
BITTER EX-WIFE: Have you ever seen him with a girl that’s much too young for him?
YOU: I can’t say.
BITTER EX-WIFE: If you did, would you let me know?
YOU: I don’t think it would be right for me to spy on your ex-husband.
BITTER EX-WIFE: Oh, heaven’s no – I’m not asking you to spy: just keep on eye on him and his whore for me. And if you can get video or a picture, that would be even better.

Fortunately, there is one benefit to being caught in the middle of this kind of animosity: it reminds you to treat your own spouse with a little more kindness and compassion, if for no other reason the last thing you want is to put your friends, neighbors or even acquaintances in the position of being the “you” in any of the exchanges above.


  1. Don’t make yourself at home.
  2. If you stay longer than invited, you will not be asked to come back.
  3. Ever.
  4. There is no maid.
  5. Seriously — NO MAID, which means whichever host you are related to, or knew first, will end up cleaning up after you (though probably not until after a long, ugly argument).
  6. If you bring a pet, make sure your pet is housebroken.
  7. On second thought, no pets.
  8. When we say “if you need anything, just ask,” we don’t expect you to take us up on it.
  9. But if you really do need something, we’d prefer if you would let us find it for you rather than snooping looking for it in our drawers, closets, cabinets, etc. yourself.
  10. Pottery Barn rules apply: you break it, you buy it.
  11. This rule applies to kids, too.
  12. If you forget your toothbrush, razor, underwear or prescription anti-depressants, please don’t borrow ours.
  13. Just because you walk around naked at home doesn’t mean you should do that here, if for no other reason than seeing you naked will forever change our impression of you, and probably not for the better.
  14. Please refrain from discussing politics, religion or anything else unless you are certain your views are in line with ours, or that we like to argue.
  15. You know that ugly piece of art we have on the wall in the living room? We don’t think it’s ugly.
  16. On a related note, you know the voice you use when you don’t want anyone to hear you? We can still hear you.
  17. Please keep in mind that we invited you, not members of your extended family.
  18. Flush.
  19. And knock.
  20. If you don’t think you can abide by these rules, stay home.
  21. Unless you are family.
  22. And then only come during the holidays, when we are more likely to be forgiving.
  23. And which only come once a year.


On the first day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
The worst cold I ever did have.

On the second day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Two hours of sleep
And the worst cold I ever did have.

On the third day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Three last-minute invites
Two hours of sleep
And the worst cold I ever did have.

On the fourth day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Four wound-up kids
Three last-minute invites
Two hours of sleep
And the worst cold I ever did have.

On the fifth day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Five no-show sitters
Four wound-up kids
Three last-minute invites
Two hours of sleep
And the worst cold I ever did have.

On the sixth day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Six pleas to grandma
Five no-show sitters
Four wound-up kids
Three last-minute invites
Two hours of sleep
And the worst cold I ever did have.

On the seventh day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Seven cups of egg nog
Six pleas to grandma
Five no-show sitters
Four wound-up kids
Three last-minute invites
Two hours of sleep
And the worst cold I ever did have.

On the eighth day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Eight off-color comments
Seven cups of egg nog
Six pleas to grandma
Five no-show sitters
Four wound-up kids
Three last-minute invites
Two hours of sleep
And the worst cold I ever did have.

On the ninth day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Nine disagreements
Eight off-color comments
Seven cups of egg nog
Six pleas to grandma
Five no-show sitters
Four wound-up kids
Three last-minute invites
Two hours of sleep
And the worst cold I ever did have.

On the tenth day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Ten accusations
Nine disagreements
Eight off-color comments
Seven cups of egg nog
Six pleas to grandma
Five no-show sitters
Four wound-up kids
Three last-minute invites
Two hours of sleep
And the worst cold I ever did have.

On the eleventh day of Christmas
My true love gave to me Eleven silent curses
Ten accusations
Nine disagreements
Eight off-color comments
Seven cups of egg nog
Six pleas to grandma
Five no-show sitters
Four wound-up kids
Three last-minute invites
Two hours of sleep And the worst cold I ever did have.

On the twelfth day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Twelve nasty looks
Eleven silent curses
Ten accusations
Nine disagreements
Eight off-color comments
Seven cups of egg nog
Six pleas to grandma
Five no-show sitters
Four wound-up kids
Three last-minute invites
Two hours of sleep
And the worst cold I ever did have.

(Which is probably why we’re not talking to each other right now.)


  • Door dings.
  • Trash bins that are supposed to be animal-proof but aren’t.
  • Dropped calls.
  • FEDEX drivers who double-park.
  • Stores that post the wrong hours online.
  • Meter maids.
  • Parents who bring their kids to daycare when they’re sick.
  • Traffic.
  • Drivers who make phone calls instead of turning.
  • Construction delays.
  • Drivers who don’t wait their turn at 4-way stops.
  • Tele-marketers who claim they don’t have to heed the “Do Not Call” registry because you’re a customer of their subsidiaries’ off-shore cousin’s shell company.
  • SUVs parked in compact spaces.
  • Chatty baristas who don’t seem to care/realize there are now 37 people in line.
  • The drive-thru (especially McDonald’s).
  • Golf.
  • People who don’t pick up after their pets.
  • News promos that use the words “deadly,” “outbreak,” and “protect yourself” when all they’re actually talking about is the flu.
  • Parents who call before 8:30 am.
  • Activities that are canceled or postponed by e-mail a few hours before they’re supposed to start.
  • Radio stations that have 25 minutes of commercials every hour.
  • Things at the supermarket that are still on the shelves days, weeks or months after their expiration date.
  • Cable-company DVRs.
  • Apple Airport Extreme Wi-Fi.
  • Universal remotes.
  • Spellcheck.
  • When your kids hide your keys.
  • Saran Wrap.

If Eskimos have a thousand words for snow, shouldn’t we have a thousand words for life’s little irritations?

For most of us, a day doesn’t go by that God, the universe, fate, karma, quantum physics or all-of-the-above don’t needle our emotional well-being, usually when we’re running late, just had an argument with our spouse or suddenly realized we forgot to get a babysitter for tomorrow night so we could go to dinner and a movie and finally get a break from all this crap.

It doesn’t help that these cosmic paper cuts never seem to be isolated one- offs, either, but instead come in sets, like celebrity deaths and unsolicited parenting suggestions from opinionated strangers – it’s not just the long line at Starbucks, it’s having them mess up your order twice and then spilling your extra-hot, half-caf hazelnut mocha down the front of your shirt as you pull out of the parking lot.

The impact of these little irritations – and they are little, even if we can’t figure out how not to sweat them – increases exponentially as the day progresses, to the point where we find ourselves cursing some 82-year-old women with a walker because she’s not crossing the street fast enough, or threatening to ground our kids for the rest of their natural lives if they EVER give the dog another peanut butter and jelly sandwich again, or contemplating divorce because our spouse forgot (again) to fill up the car when it got close to empty, leaving us in the position of having to coast down the hill to the Shell.

Psychologists say the only reason any of this stuff annoys us the way it does is because it reminds us that we’re not really in control (no matter how thoroughly we’ve managed to convince ourselves otherwise) and that ultimately mastering the moment isn’t nearly as important as just being in it, regardless of whether that moment is good, bad, satisfying, awful, rewarding, stressful, happy, sad, amusing, aggravating, etc.

But as nice as that sounds (in a zen-like, higher-consciousness kind of way), who has the time to learn how to do that? Or the energy? Or the patience?

If learning to live in the moment can’t be accomplished in one 30-minute session two times a week, in the car on the drive home from work, or during one of those rare moments when every kid in the house is quietly pre-occupied, then it just becomes one more thing we don’t have time to squeeze in but try to do anyway – or would try to do if we didn’t have to wait for the knucklehead in the car ahead of us to get off the phone and go.

Note: It’s easy to complain about life’s little irritations, but it’s also important to point out that we could probably eliminate entire categories of irritation if we really, really wanted to – just moving to a remote cabin in Montana and living off the land, for example, would instantly rid us of driving-, shopping-, neighbor-, school- and work-related annoyances (though it would probably more than make up for that by adding starvation-, bear attack-, hypothermia-, and isolation-related irritations, so maybe that’s not such a good trade-off. Plus, let’s not forget that Unabomber Ted Kaczynski moved to a remote cabin in Montana so he could get away from it all and look what happened to him).


WIFE: Back already?
HUSBAND: Yeah, traffic wasn’t too bad.
WIFE: Did you get eggs?
WIFE: Toilet paper?
HUSBAND: I knew there was something I forgot.
WIFE: That’s okay, I’ll just get it when I take the kids to piano.
HUSBAND: Or I can get it when I take ‘em to karate?
WIFE: Or I can… er… uh… I was gonna say I can get it when I take ‘em to swimming, but I have to stop at the drug store.
HUSBAND: If you do, will you pick me up some shaving cream?
WIFE: Sure, but I thought you used an electric… Hey! When did you grow a beard?
WIFE: Really?
HUSBAND: Yeah, when we were finally getting around to making our New Year’s Resolutions. You said “I’m gonna change my hair color to red!”
WIFE: I did.
HUSBAND: And I said “I’m gonna grow a beard.” Wait. You did?
WIFE: Like it?
HUSBAND: How could I have missed something like that?
BOTH: We’ve got to make time for each other.
WIFE: Let’s check our schedules. December is bad. How’s January look for you?
HUSBAND: Crazy. February?
WIFE: No, we’ll be getting ready for Spring Break. April?
HUSBAND: How about Thursday the 8th?
WIFE: Monday the 12th would be better.
HUSBAND: How about 7:00 to 8:15?


HUSBAND: What are you doing?
WIFE: Watching TV.
HUSBAND: I can see that, but why aren’t you watching in HD?
WIFE: Do we get this channel in HD?
HUSBAND: Of course! Don’t you remember the expanded super-premium top tier all-access HD cable package I told you about?
HUSBAND: Let me show you: this is what you were watching… and this is the same channel in HD.
WIFE: What’s the difference?
HUSBAND: What’s the difference?!?!?!?
WIFE: Besides the extra $1000 you spent on the really, really big screen, instead of putting it into the college fund.
HUSBAND: It’s not just the size. Can’t you see how much better the resolution is? This is a 720p HD signal on a 1080p monitor, not that up-converted 480i crap you were watching.
WIFE: I don’t even know what you’re saying. Can’t I just want to watch the show?
HUSBAND: I don’t know why I even bother trying to explain this stuff.
WIFE: I don’t know why you even think I’d care. But while you’re standing there, go into the closet and grab my gray cashmere sweater, will you?
HUSBAND: Fine. Here.
WIFE: I said “gray cashmere.”
HUSBAND: That’s what this is.
WIFE: It’s not gray, it’s charcoal.
WIFE: And it’s not cashmere, it’s wool.
HUSBAND: What’s the difference?


Lots of couples spend hundreds, even thousands of dollars on counseling when what they really need to do to improve their marriage is argue.

Not in person, but by text.

Arguing by text has a number of benefits. For example, in face-to-face arguments, tensions usually escalate because each person reacts (and over-reacts) to what the other is saying. But since SMS shorthand is so obscure and confusing — URAPITA? UG2BK? SHID? — how can you be outraged by something you can’t understand?

The 140-character limit helps, too, because it means you have to reduce your anger/frustration to its root cause before you can text it. Since most arguments end when the roots are exposed, however, starting this way means there isn’t really anywhere for the argument to go — You say you’re upset because you don’t feel like you’re in control of the relationship. Your spouse agrees you’re not. End of story.

As for those argument that proceed anyway, it’s important to remember that at some point, “principle,” ” being “right” and even just the need “to be shown a little respect” can’t overcome tired thumbs.

Which isn’t to say texting is flawless.

But keep in mind that if you scream something cruel and inappropriate at your spouse in the heat of the moment, you can’t ever take it back. But if you text it, you can say it was just a typo:

HUSBAND: No, I wouldn’t ever call you that. What I meant was you’re being a stitch, because I thought your whole argument was a joke.
WIFE: Oh yeah? Well then I guess I meant you’re a sucker.



  1. The first thing you do when you wake up in the morning is look for somebody to blame.
  2. No matter what anyone says, you completely disagree.
  3. There are no accidents or innocent mistakes: everything everybody does to you is “on purpose.”
  4. You yell at your spouse for breathing too loudly.
  5. You yell at the dog for laying around the house all day doing nothing.
  6. You yell at your kids for almost anything, and then you feel so bad about you break down and cry.
  7. Even though you’re not hungry, you stand at the fridge eating (usually whatever you can reach, instead of something you might enjoy).
  8. You stop going to Starbucks because you can’t take the pressure.
  9. Everything you say ends with a threat.
  10. You find yourself staring at a stranger whose face is locked in a permanent scowl for two or three minutes before you realize you’re standing in front of a mirror.


Would you knowingly send a sick child to school?

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WIFE: Do these pants make me look fat?
HUSBAND: A little.
WIFE: What?!?!?
HUSBAND: I mean… No.
WIFE: Then why did you say “Yes?”
HUSBAND: I didn’t say “yes,” I said “a little.”
WIFE: No, you said “Oh my God! You look like a cow. Your butt is bigger than your aunt’s.”
HUSBAND: I did not.
WIFE: But that’s what you meant.
HUSBAND: I think I know what I meant and it wasn’t anything like that.
WIFE: Then what did you mean?
WIFE: You’re trying to think of a way out of this, aren’t you?
WIFE: I can see it in your eyes.
HUSBAND: I am not trying to… THE CUT!
WIFE: What?
HUSBAND: It’s not your butt, it’s the cut. The cut of those pants is… is… is… unflattering.
WIFE: Really?
HUSBAND: I swear.
WIFE: See… that’s what I thought, too. And then the sales associate started hovering and she said they looked great, so I felt pressured and I got them but I never wear them because I think they make me look fat.
HUSBAND: Because the cut is so bad.
WIFE: It really is, isn’t it?
HUSBAND: I bet that sales associate just wanted her commission.
WIFE: No kidding. That’s why I like to shop online – I can try everything on and then just return what doesn’t fit.
HUSBAND: Makes perfect sense to me.
WIFE: Let me change into something else and then we’ll go.
WIFE: What?
HUSBAND: I didn’t say anything.
WIFE: You sighed.
HUSBAND: I don’t think so.
WIFE: You let out a big, huge sigh.
WIFE: Like you dodged a bullet or something.
WIFE: You’re not lying about the pants, are you?
WIFE: Then why did you sigh?
HUSBAND: Oh that! That was just a burp. I think I have a little indigestion.
WIFE: You should probably take some Prilosec.
HUSBAND: Why don’t I do that while you change into something more flattering.
WIFE: Just give me 10 minutes.


Mess up? Say something you shouldn’t have? Pick the wrong time to make the right point?


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Husband: “Ready?”
Wife: “I was waiting for you.”
Husband: “Oh… I was waiting for you.”
Wife: “Well… I’m ready.”
Husband: Great. Shall we go?”
Wife: Sure – just give me five minutes.”

Editor’s note: when husbands were asked if they thought this joke was mildly-to-moderately amusing, 84% said “yes;” when wives were asked the same question, 91% said “What joke? You think it’s easy getting ready? We can’t just hop in the shower and be done. We have to do our hair, put on our make-up, and then clean up the bathroom before we leave because our husbands NEVER do. Seriously, do they want the babysitter to think we’re slobs? And how hard is it to hang up a towel and wipe down the sink, anyway? If you want to talk about getting ready to go out, men are the real joke, and we don’t think it’s funny.”


WIFE: My mom says she’ll watch the kids.
WIFE: Tonight if we want.
HUSBAND: You wanna try and go out?
WIFE: Sure. Any movies playing?
HUSBAND: There’s that new action blockbuster.
WIFE: Ha. Ha. Ha. And nothing subtitled, either. I’m too tired to read.
HUSBAND: What about dinner?
WIFE: I’m still doing that cleanse diet. We could get a drink?
HUSBAND: If I get a drink I’ll fall asleep.
WIFE: Me too.
HUSBAND: Coffee?
WIFE: Then I won’t sleep when we get home.
HUSBAND: I gotta get up early and take the kids to baseball, anyway. You wanna just skip it?
WIFE: It’s up to you.
HUSBAND: I’m okay with staying in if you are.
WIFE: That’s fine.
HUSBAND: But let’s definitely try to go out next weekend.
WIFE: Definitely. I’ll just call my mom and tell her “Thanks but no thanks.”
HUSBAND: I’ll check to see if there’s anything on pay-per-view.
WIFE: If I fall asleep on the couch, make sure you wake me up before you go to bed.

And still we complain we never get the chance to go out.


Is there really a difference between a Romanée-Conti and a bottle of Manischewitz?

Probably, but according to research by Stanford and The California Institute of Technology, just raising the price of Manischewitz a thousand dollars would make it taste better.

A group of scientists – who clearly have way, way too much time on their hands – mapped the brains of people while they tasted wines to see how much their pleasure centers would light up. It turns out that even when two wines were identical, the one people were told was more expensive produced considerably more brain activity, meaning they liked it better.

While this is somewhat surprising, it also makes sense in an Emperor’s New Clothes kind of way, and can probably be generalized to all experiences.

Meaning that if you’re planning, for example, on getting your wife a diamond ring for her birthday, forget it and just order a cubic zirconia from the Shop-At-Home Network and stick it in a Tiffany’s box:

WIFE: Is this what I think it is?
HUSBAND: It’s just my way of saying “Happy Birthday.”
WIFE: Wow. It must’ve cost a fortune.
HUSBAND: It doesn’t matter what it cost. What’s important is the look on your face right now — that’s priceless.

Or if your husband’s snobby wine friends are coming to dinner, just decant a bottle of Two Buck Chuck and tell them it’s a rare first-growth Bordeaux. They’ll marvel at the complexity and say they can really taste the “terroir,” at which point you can say “Terroir is bullshit! — at least that’s what Malcom Gluck says.”

Not only will you have dropped the name of a wine expert wine snobs love to hate, you’ll be 100% correct.

And then you can push things even farther and bring out that can of Spam® they brought as a gag gift last time they came over and tell them it’s imported patè.

Best of all, while this kind of sneaky, deceitful behavior might have made you feel guilty in the past, you can now feel good about yourself because you’re actually giving everyone a better experience.

And what could be wrong with that?