Beeminder Forum

““Beeminder saved my marriage""

(That’s me quoting a user putting “Beeminder saved my marriage” in scare-quotes. Reproduced here with permission.)

Did I ever tell you this anecdote, which I think you will appreciate?

About 4 months ago, me and my husband went to couples therapy and one of the things he said was that I don’t have time for him, I spend all my time trying to be productive to make my beeminder goals happy?

Anyway, I said, in a huff, “okay well I’m going to make a goal to spend time with you, being unproductive! Twice a week!”

And I did??? [link to goal]

And, well, it’s… pretty much fixed the only major problem we were having (okay, we were also having issues about housework, which the counsellor helped us communicate better about) – though also he has a Beeminder goal for changing the sheets regularly.

So yeah, thanks, Beeminder??? You’re… alright?

I just glow every time I read this and showed it off to some family members who were confused by the question marks there. The user in question adds: “yes the question marks are an affect in my typing which I use to express wonder/awe/incredulity”. And another addendum:

I am wondering if “saved my marriage” is hyperbole. I think it is as we were managing fine, but the unproductive time has made things so much better. So maybe more accurately, Beeminder “saved us” from “managing fine” rather than like imminent divorce.


I just remembered that we also have an “I got divorced because of Beeminder” story from years ago. That user said it was a good thing, something along the lines of “I thought I was just being unreasonable but by looking at Beeminder graphs I concluded it was my spouse who was unreasonable” or something like that. I just looked up the email exchange and it seems I’ve remembered it correctly! The user concluded, “So I’d call that a giant success for Beeminder, except maybe not one for the public ads :-)”.

So I guess we’re net zero on marriages?

No, wait, not true! Don’t forget the marriage assist from the very early days: @nick beeminding romantic gestures to his now-wife, Chloe! (As documented in the classic book, The Motivation Hacker.)


As an interesting counterexample, my spouse explicitly doesn’t like it when I made process-goals involving them (ie, “hug spouse” or “ask spouse a question about their day” etc); while they would enjoy me doing those things, doing them because an external system reminded me apparently removes the “thought” from it, making it into a task instead of a spontaneous gesture for them. (Which is unfortunate, because I’m unlikely to do those sorts of spontaneous gestures spontaneously!)

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That’s a trap of their own making, dooming them to disappointment. You’d better not put your anniversary in the calendar either, because “if you really loved me, you’d remember”! :smiley:

I’ve got similar process-goals for family members, but I don’t usually tell them. In the same way that people seem pleased that I’ve “remembered” their birthdays; they don’t need to know that my computer told me…


I do this and just don’t tell people. Beeminder is letting me fake having the same kind of brain as them, but they don’t have to know that! I know it may make them feel like I didn’t think about it, even though the obvious way to view that from my point of view is that I cared enough about this thing that is important to them that I set up a way to ensure I did it. I did put the thought in, just not at the point in the process they expect.


I can see both sides of this. On one hand, if you schedule time for someone, that’s a way of showing you care.

But I can also understand the desire to have a friend or partner spontaneously think of you and demonstrate that - I think that’s a reasonable thing to want, and it’s something that by its very nature cannot be Beeminded.

I guess the ideal would be to have both - Beemind it, but also make an effort to think of the person and show it.

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Conversely, I think the people who love you should make an effort to love you as you are, not as they want you to be! If they can’t, then maybe that relationship isn’t ideal for either of you.

Like, my wife is never going to be able to just force herself to remember that I asked her to do something for me. There’s always going to need to be some kind of reminder, whether it’s written down or set as a reminder on her phone. It’s not that she doesn’t love me or that she doesn’t want to help me figure out how to fix the hole in my shirt! It’s just not something her brain can hold onto. There’s no point in getting exasperated about that, or treating her like it’s not adequate if she doesn’t just remember it without any kind of prompt.

Likewise, I’m never going to spontaneously think of giving her a hug on a regular basis. I’m touch-averse, it’s just not going to happen – no matter how much I like the result of having remembered to show my affection physically, no matter how much she likes it, it’s not a thought that will occur spontaneously more than once in a blue moon. There’s no point in her getting annoyed with me about that, or treating it like it’s not adequate if I don’t just do it without any kind of prompt.

So sure, I can understand the desire to have a friend or partner spontaneously think of me and demonstrate that (in my way and not with a hug!)… but I understand that people’s brains don’t all work the same way, and what’s pleasant to me is unpleasant to someone else, and vice versa. I’m equally happy if they care enough about that that they’ll create a Beeminder goal for it or set reminders on their phone or whatever their mental trick might be.


A lot of times what people value is the other person putting effort in, though, not necessarily the results.

Like someone might prefer their partner take time and put effort into trying to spontaneously think of something - even if that effort is totally fruitless and doomed to failure - to their partner “cheating” by using Beeminder to get better results.

Agreed that people should love you as you are!

I can understand why one might not like being hugged just to tick off a checkbox. I don’t necessarily agree with that type of thinking, but I can understand it. If I were in that situation, this is how I might create an alternative goal. This could possibly be seen as a win-win:

  • Plug: username/RomanticFeeling

  • Description: Think/imagine/feel of something romantic about NAME_OF_SPOUSE.

  • Fine Print: I want to establish a habit of thinking about romantic things about my partner. The purpose of this beeminder is to help me establish the neurological change (habit) to be more romantic. This beeminder doesn’t require me to DO ANYTHING with my partner. It’s just to remember this daily (on average). This is a daily reminder to think of something during the day, either immediately or later. Constant daily reminder of this will eventually establish this as a habit. One type of thought is to close your eyes and think of some action you take (something you say or something you do) and imagine that happening, and conjure up the good feelings associated with that.

The thought could then be something like, “hug my partner today”. Then you close your eyes, think about that, and think about the feelings that gives you. That’s it. There’s nothing else to it. It’s like a very short daily meditation. Daily repetition of this would almost surely, in the long run, activate the neurological changes needed to do these kinds of things. Also, while I do believe in loving someone for who they are, there’s also nothing wrong with establishing new ways of thinking that brings you more in alignment with your partner.

I would make this a private goal because it would be a personal goal, and honestly, having my partner know about it would complicate it a little bit. The results would speak for themselves. But I also wouldn’t have a problem if my partner discovered it.

And to clarify my position on this, I’d probably have both goals. The thinking/imagining/feeling goal AND the “hug my partner X times a week” goal. They stack together nicely to create neurological changes.

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Perfectly said.

Somehow, even more perfectly said

I think I could imagine falling into that kind of thinking (and sometimes do) but I’m wrong when I do cause I’d not be being hugged to tick off a checkbox; I’d be being hugged (or whatever the behaviour is) because someone cares enough to plan for doing something that matters to me (by using diachronic self-control to make up for what is probably a more global, not-personal-to-me lack of synchronic self-control). Some people show and experience affection in one way and others in other ways and when there’s a mismatch it’s a lovely act to go out of one’s way to “translate” your affection into their language.