Experts say that cell phones are upending relationships as couples increasingly spend more time with their screens than their mates. But, as I discovered ten years ago, technology can also help keep married life blissful.
Christopher L. from Naperville, Illinois writes, “I have in front of me an anniversary card for my wife and I want to write something personal on it. As a professional writer, do you have any suggestions?”
Yes. Re-read the card, absorb the sentiment, pick up your pen, and this is the important part, write ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. If the card says “To My Wife…” on the front you may be able to get by without even signing your name. So much the better.
I say this in all sincerity as a professional writer who knows the power of the written word. When it comes to greeting cards for your wife, that word is “liability.” This is because men and women view greeting cards in entirely different ways.
For example, when a woman buys a birthday card for her husband, she spends time at the store carefully reading EACH AND EVERY card (including those labeled “anniversary,” “graduation,” “bar mitzvah,” “confirmation,” and “reorder number 11”), weighing each sentiment until she finds just the right message to convey her feelings.
A man surveys the rack of cards and, because the store is closing, selects the only card left with a matching envelope.
When a man gets a card from his wife, his first thought is, “When I throw it away can I toss it on top of the garbage or should I hide it under the milk cartons?”
A woman, on the other hand, especially your wife, will keep the card forever. Remember the “till death do us part” of your wedding? She was looking at you, but fantasizing about the greeting cards.
And while you think adding “I would move heaven and earth to make you happy” demonstrates you have sensitivity and sincerity, not to mention the vocabulary of a gigolo in a Harlequin romance novel, your wife will see it as something completely different.
SHE: Honey, you once told me you’d move heaven and earth to make me happy.
HE: Uh, huh.
SHE: Well, I’d settle for your moving the garbage to the trash can.
HE: Isn’t this why we have kids?
SHE: Oh, and I have it in writing.
What can we, as sensitive, sincere men do? We can do what all the sensitive, sincere men before us have done. Curl up in a ball and suck our thumbs. Or, we can pretend we are 21st century sensitive and sincere men and turn to…technology.
It seems Hallmark is selling a line of new cards that let you record a personal message IN YOUR OWN VOICE. These cards make use of a wonderful invention that solves all our problems.
Batteries are amazing devices because they have the ability to go from marvels of scientific engineering to useless blobs of toxic chemicals all in a period of a few months.
You are now free to record a personal message, confident that when your wife drags the card out of her underwear drawer a year or two from now, she will open it up and…NOTHING.
Just the tender, romantic printed message inside the card which, frankly, you could argue is hardly binding, having been told to three million other English-speaking women. (Important: This may put your sensitivity and sincerity at severe risk.)
Based on my extensive knowledge of battery dynamics, most of which comes from a phone call to Hallmark, I have developed some tips for the effective use of the card, which is good for 200 playbacks.
First, record your message several times to get it right.
About 134 ought to do it. Next, hand your wife the card personally so you can not only share the moment with her, but also make sure that she fully appreciates the effort you have put into your message.
HE: You just open the card and, listen, my very own voice telling you how I feel.
SHE: I didn’t hear it. You were talking.
HE: Sorry. I’m opening it again. You can’t get much more personal than that.
SHE: Then what?
HE: What I said.
SHE: You were talking.
HE: I can play it again.
SHE: Let me do it.
HE: Okay. You just open the card…
SHE: I know…
HE: Ooo, and listen. There I…
SHE: Is there a reason you don’t want me to hear what you said?
SHE: Did you buy this card used on eBay?
SHE: I’m calling mother.
Keep it up. Your goal is to share a lifetime of memories in the lifetime of a fruit fly. After which you wife will have little choice but to toss any incriminating evidence in the garbage.
To be on the safe side, check under the milk cartons on your way to the trash can.
From my book I Don’t Have All the Answers Only Because There are Too Many Questions, available from Amazon.com. And, yes, if you buy it I do make some money. But not nearly enough to get a real job.
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