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.

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.