Would You Buy a Roomba For Love?

Vacuum cleaners are kind of a sore spot in my house, mostly because of a major lapse in judgment I made about a year ago when my dear, sweet, wonderful wife approached me about purchasing a new vacuum cleaner. We were living on a tight budget, and because vacuums are expensive, I asked her to explain what was wrong with the el cheapo vacuum cleaner that we already owned. She told me a few things that were apparently wrong with it, but in general the explanation was that it just wasn’t up to snuff.

Now, of course, this is the part where I screwed up.

I wasn’t particularly satisfied with her explanation, so I asked her for a demonstration of how our vacuum was not sufficient. I told her that I would happily agree to buy a new vacuum in exchange for proof of her assessment. This seemed entirely reasonable to me–I even offered to get some dirt from outside and put it on the floor so we could test it. Maybe some cereal or other crumbly food items–the particulate did not matter, because I was sure she would see the rationality of such a test. You discerning readers already see how I was wrong–so very, very wrong.

As became clear to me in time, by demanding a demonstration, I had essentially called my wife a liar and disputed her accounting of what it is like to use a crappy vacuum on a regular basis with two little kids nipping at her heels. So, after a little budgeting, my wife got herself the new vacuum she wanted. But here’s the thing–I did not agree we needed a new vacuum because I finally conceded that our old vacuum was insufficient for our floors, but because I realized that being in a marriage sometimes demands that we do things we don’t want to do, for reasons we don’t entirely understand (or want to admit).

As another example, a good friend of mine recently confided in me that he had, at his wife’s earnest pleading, purchased a Roomba. He was obviously ashamed of this purchase, so I didn’t berate him too heavily, because I also realize that his decision to spend money on such a ridiculous (and ridiculously named) item was similar to my own–and could only be understood from the standpoint of a man trying to please his wife.

So, because it is Monday and because Father’s Day is not coming for about 357 days, and there’s plenty of time to repent and apologize, let’s have the goods: What have you done for your wife (or kids) not because you wanted to (even though you said you did), but because you’re in it for the long haul and you love them?


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  1. Vasectomy

  2. We will be keeping a running total on vasectomies. Brother Matsby, you are #1.

  3. Nah, vasectomy wasn’t for her. I was just joking. I have made a lot of concessions over the years. But not nearly as many as she has.

  4. “What have you done for your wife (or kids) not because you wanted to (even though you said you did), but because you’re in it for the long haul and you love them?”

    Had six of the little buggers.

    Seriously, just about everything. That’s what it’s all about.

  5. Bit my tongue and shut my mouth.

  6. Mentioning any of my minor concessions would seem rather churlish in light of her major comedown in agreeing to marry me.

  7. Go for it, Steve. I know you’re dying to say it. *grin*

  8. Ray, I have no desire to bite your tongue for you. I don’t swing that way.

  9. gst you are a true romantic.

  10. One of the concessions my father made was to surrender the TV to two generations of “Little House” and “Punky Brewster.” I didn’t realize this until he was in his 80s and overdosed on NASCAR and old war movies.

  11. Ardis, you just named the four worst things in the world:

    1. Little House
    2. Punky Brewster
    3. NASCAR
    3. (tie) 80 year olds

  12. we loved our roomba when we had large area rugs and straightforward floor plan. the kids chased it, called it gus, and it did a great job on most of the tasks. our current house has too many bumps, transitions, and tight spaces, so we had to retire Gus.
    Some of us could have predicted that your demands for a demonstration would not go over well.

  13. I could play along with you on the first three, Scott, but that last one is just plain mean. Go atone for your sin by buying your wife the next thing on her list. Now. I mean it.

  14. (weeping bitterly, kicking against the pricks)

  15. smb–
    My request for a demonstration was most unfortunate. But the thing is, I still to this day think it was a reasonable request—for a vacuum salesman, but not for my wife.

  16. I have given up all rights to decorating. Once I tried to claim a small room I called the Jane Goodall Memorial Office, but the only remnant of my decorating is a globe of Mars and a large paper wasp nest nestled in one corner.

  17. esodhiambo says:

    I LOVE my Roomba. It works with me, it works when I am gone. It sings a little “charge!” song before it begins. The kids greet the “robot” on returning home (we have no pets). And, it is great under furniture.

    I am not going to say it is the best vacuum ever, but it does work that would otherwise not be done, so it can’t really lose.

  18. Your request for a demonstration was more than “unfortunate”- and it was perfectly, completely NOT reasonable. You should go buy her whatever she wants. Now.

    Bad, bad man.

  19. Scott, my husband found himself in the same predicament one day. However, instead of requesting a demonstration, he said “Why would we spend money on a new vacuum when you never use the one we already have?” It was an equally unfortunate thing to say. However, knowing my husband, I’m sure you can imagine him saying it.

  20. If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s shoddy tools. A good tool will give you joy each time you use it, and will last for many years. A shoddy tool will make you curse and groan every time you use it, and will torture you for however long it lasts which is, mercifully, usually not long. Shame on you for wanting your wife to work with shoddy tools. My guess is that you probably have excellent tools with which to do your work. If I had made such a foolish mistake, I would not blog about it. I think your wife must be an angel for putting up with you. :-P

    P.S. I love my Roomba!

  21. What I envisioned: Men telling tales of chivalrous sacrifice
    What I am receiving: Glares from the bloggernacle womenfolk


  22. Besides essentially calling her a liar, you demonstrated that you apparently never use the vacuum cleaner yourself.

  23. Seanette says:

    If my husband pulled the “the one we have is just fine” when I knew very well it wasn’t, he’d get the “joy” of getting to do the work being made much harder by inadequate equipment. After all, if it’s good enough for me to use, surely it’s good enough for him to use.

  24. I love my Roomba. Best Christmas present ever. Scooba is next. I would sell something if I had to to replace my Roomba. I don’t know why I waited so long.

  25. I hope it’s not too late for the smug two-income couple to join the discussion…

    Scott, you sound new to this game and misplayed your hand. When she wants (needs) a new vacuum, say, “great idea, let’s go to the mall right now. I ‘ve been needing (wanting) a radio-controlled airplane”. Or better, just offer to do the vacuuming yourself from now on.

    Were your dear wife to draw an income as you do, she could buy her own vacuum machine. Not that she’d have to: the very knowledge that she doesn’t need your leave would have subconsciously steered you much better than your conscience apparently did.

    The inevitable result of a structural imbalance of power is passive domination and resistance. Be grateful for guilt trips and passive aggressive behavior, since without the possibility of divorce or a second income, these are the only tools of redress left to a couple. Use them wisely, and sparingly.

  26. Kevin Barney says:

    I understand that Chez Evans will soon be the proud owners of a roomba themselves.

    Our household works a little bit differently. When my wife wanted a new vacuum cleaner, she didn’t ask me or anything. She just bought it. A fancy one that uses water somehow For $1700.

    And I never said a word.

  27. au contraire, Paula (22)! My request for a demonstration resulted from the fact that I HAD used it many times and found it to be completely adequate.

    (Ignoring the fact that I probably did a 3rd rate job of vacuuming)

  28. vacuum schmacuum. it could have been anything. scott, i appreciate your concession that sometimes logic isn’t the primary agent in keeping things running smoothly.

  29. “What I envisioned: Men telling tales of chivalrous sacrifice
    What I am receiving: Glares from the bloggernacle womenfolk”

    Uh, duh . . .

  30. Nameless says:

    Here’s a a bit of chivalry for you….

    My husband spent the day with me at the textile museum in Lowell, MA. Now that my son is off to college, he also quietly concedes defeat when he is out voted by the female contingent that remains at home on what to watch for movie night.

  31. Kevin (26)–
    It is possible that Chez Evans is the “close friend” I refer to.

  32. Kevin Barney says:

    Early in my marriage I would go to rock concerts with my wife. She had to be up by the stage, so we would wait outside (in the winters in the freezing cold) for hours to get a good spot. And we’d stand there for more hours. I would get beer spilled on me.

    I finally gave up after standing right in front of the speaker at a Bob Mould show. I couldn’t hear right for two days after that, and I prayed to God that if he would give me my hearing back I wouldn’t go to any more rock shows. He did, and I have (mostly) kept my vow.

    So that was my attempt at irrational support of my wife, but in the end I just couldn’t keep up with her.

  33. #25 Dan Weston –
    My comment doesn’t follow the point of the post, but I just wanted to offer an alternative view about money and spouses. Your post implied that the money really belongs to whomever the paycheck is made out to.
    My view is that money belongs to both people, regardless of who earns it.
    It would be too bad if chivalry and generosity could only belong to the people who earn the money.

  34. I did not know what Roomba was until I read this post. Now I must have one. I will be sending a link to this post to my husband. Apparently, he’ll need to start saving immediately.

  35. My wife and I both work and we both share the money. Especially when I need money and she is not around, but her purse is.

  36. again #25 Dan Weston –
    actually, I think I responded hastily. I guess you could have meant that in a two-income household, you have enough money to not worry about the purchases that the other spouse may make. So maybe it isn’t the fact that a household is two-income so much as the fact that a household is well-to-do that makes a couple lucky in negotiating concessions. Sorry for responding negatively at first.

  37. My husband let me buy a 50 pound bucket of powder laundry detergent just to save a few dollars.

  38. Wait . . . I just realized a Roomba is a robot! Now I want one. Can it be programed for destruction? Have Asimov’s three laws been programed in? For example, does it have an ethical subroutine that says it can never harm a human? The potential of these babies is huge. I really want one now too.

  39. Mike M. says:

    I have too many of these things to list. Most things in our house, actually. But at the most personal level, a while back I let my wife have control over my hair for a brief period.

    Gotta choose your battles. (Quieter) Gotta choose your battles (head down).

  40. SteveP,

    Repeat after me: Robots do NOT need to be baptized.

  41. Well not yet! But I say the sooner we make the Roomba submersible the better.

  42. The conversation that is the subject of this post is utterly foreign to me. Maybe it’s because we’re a two-income family, but I can’t imagine my wife ever asking my permission to buy something that she had already decided was necessary for our household.

    Just like I didn’t ask her permission last summer when I bought the critically necessary chainsaw for the yard.

    She’s going to let me back in the bedroom any day now.

  43. She did not seek permission. She sought agreement. The vacuum was gonna get bought, one way or the other.

  44. #33 mj,

    I think I was not clear in my comment. The money is irrelevant. At issue is the near insuperable innate weakness of humans to possession of power implies the right to use it. Even the power to forgive is often wielded like a weapon (how much easier it is to forgive a contrite and grateful transgressor than a spiteful and unrepentant one).

    Both God and man can give out of love, but man always seems to want credit for having done so.

  45. Steve Evans says:

    Dan, it’s about evolution and primal survival. I want to show my woman that I can provide, and I do so by showing my power over the world around me.

    And by buying crap off Woot.

  46. John Scherer says:

    For all the concessions that I have made, I take solace in that I’m not this guy:


  47. chelseaw says:

    John (46), Oh, the humanity!

    Making concessions is what it’s all about. That way I get to spend money on Tori Amos concerts and my husband gets to own a handgun.

  48. Wait for a future model on the Roomba if you have a dog with longish hair.

  49. Well, Bill finally took that deer head and stuffed fish out of the front room. Took awhile.

    I would love, love a roomba.

  50. CS Eric says:

    What did I do for my wife because I’m in it for the long haul? Bought her a Yorkie for companionship. Three, in fact.

    There’s a reason Cesar Milan (the “Dog Whisperer”) calls them “little atomic boms.”

  51. Chad Too says:

    SteveP: It’s all in there, but a word of advice: Don’t get the Kobayashi Maru model. It has only turned out well once.

  52. 47 – If my wife went to Tori Amos concerts, I think a gun would make me feel better too.

  53. StillConfused says:

    My brother and sister-in-law have three little ones and love the roomba. It is great for cleaning up after little mess makers.

    I have never been one to be that concerned over little things like vacuum purchases. I have a very limited number of opinions and concerns and this just doesn’t rise to that level. I have always been a working woman and so I never really had to have discussions like that. In all honesty, if I had to have a discussion about a vacuum purchase, I would probably never get a new one. Just seems like way too much effort to have to have a conversation about it. Even on major items like a car, my response was always “if you can afford it, whatever makes you happy.” I personally may not have done it but I just really don’t care.

  54. $800 puppy.

    I suggested we get a dog from the pound, but she insisted on this one specific breed, and a puppy (even though the adults were $300 cheaper).

    Then she found out it was too much puppy for her, and so she sold it at a loss…..

  55. John Scherer says:

    Rented a farm house in Northwest Ohio for a year……On three acres that I was responsible to maintain. It’s very cold and windy during the winter in Nortwest Ohio, especially when all of your neighbors are empty fields.

  56. It’s no secret that Bruce and I are Obama supporters–and were way before everyone else caught on. So what did I do for my husband? I went to a comic book store the ONE DAY when the famous Obama as Superhero comic book was available. I bought him the last copy there. I do not exactly fit in at a comic book store.

  57. John (55)–There was a book written about your experience. It’s called The Shining, if I recall correctly.

  58. For the record I was a supporter of Obama way before Margaret and Bruce caught on.

    But it’s kind of a secret, so I would appriciate if everyone kept it on the down low. Thanks.

  59. 56 – “I do not exactly fit in at a comic book store.”

    Please explain.

    I am confused about who fits in at a comic store and maybe where you would “fit in” and why.

  60. “I do not exactly fit in at a comic book store.”

    It’s all about the costume Margaret. You’d make a great catwoman if you were so inclined.

    Rameumptom, your only problem was being a cheapskate. My two puppies cost me $1500 each and I have never regretted buying either one.

  61. StillConfused says:

    $1500 for a puppy? Holy crap. Are they pure breeds that you can breed later to recoup that investment? The only pets I have ever paid for were big time producers (even when not intended — e.g. gerbils) so I made good money on the critters.

  62. Umm, I read Twilight. And then went to the movie. And I watch the SciFi channel in the bedroom on the old TV while she watches Turner Classic Movies in black and white on the 42″ LCD in the family room.

  63. Stephanie says:

    Hmm. I would rather make a list of all the times my husband and I had similar discussions to the original vaccum cleaner one. He thinks he knows everything. I do know everything. But he is stubborn as all get out until factually proven wrong.

  64. Kevinf … in my best Will Smith voice, all I can say is … DAMN.

    Don’t spoil it for the rest of us.

    I have basically surrendered all control over my wardrobe. Well, I haven’t conceded completely. I still try to argue about it. But I always lose.

  65. My vacuum has smelled like nacho cheese doritos ever since the boys dumped a bag of them on their bedroom floor 11 years ago. I am still using it because my DH has a classic car which takes most of the excess funds in this home. I really hope we won’t have cars in the CK, but if we don’t he may not go.

  66. John Scherer says:

    #57- HA!!!

    I never made that connection. I would have loved writing REDRUM in the mirror with my wife’s lipstick. We did watch Signs during the summer when we were there. never trusted the corn after that.

  67. SteveP, I see no evidence that the three laws are in effect, but I did name my first one Daneel.

  68. $1000 over the course of our marriage on Diet Coke (with a valiant attempt at minimal grumbling on my part).

    #44 Dan. You have a great point, there is certainly an imbalance of power is tough to avoid. However, when my family of 5 was living on one student stipend in an expensive city, the money was most certainly relevant in discussions about purchases.

  69. Er, ‘…an imalance of power that is tough to avoid.’

  70. BTD Greg says:

    What I don’t get about this thread: don’t any men do any of the vacuuming at their house? I think I’ve probably used our Dyson about as much as my wife has (though she may dispute that).

  71. BTD Greg, in my house, my wife teaches school, and brings home math homework to grade most nights during the school year, so I would say that I probably do as much, if not more vacuuming as my wife, except during summer vacation.

    I’ve seen the Roomba, and actually I think it would be pretty cool if they could just get it to say something when it ran into a pin or nail in the carpet. Lights could flash, and a voice could say “Danger, Will Robinson!”

  72. I’m in love with my Roomba. I even wrote it a little love poem.

  73. Nearly identical incident, but I am experienced. Had a good vacuum cleaner, I thought, for about $100. “J” hated it even though she participated in the purchase. “C” despised it, partly because she did not participate in the purchase. I knew it was going to be expensive.

    We went to the store. The favored brand was >$700. I pointed to a brand that I knew “C” would like for >$800. She did. I shut up. “J” would have approved. I put the old one in the attic. Should give it away on CraigsList.

  74. Bob Durtschi says:

    Spent $500+ that we really didn’t have on a vet bill when the family dog (a mutt) was hit by a car. A quit a bit of my growing up years was on a cattle ranch and perhaps because of that a euthinasia shot (or a quick blow with a crowbar) would have sufficed for me, but it was important to my daughters, so a bit of plastic “daddy magic” was performed instead.

  75. Steve Evans says:

    Crowbarred! Don’t f with Durtschi.

  76. Kevin Barney, I cannot believe you’ve seen Bob Mould Live. And are complaining about it! Now I want to meet your wife.

  77. I have a standing agreement with my wife that at least once a day I have to tell her that she’s right and I’m wrong.

    However, instead of requesting a demonstration, he said “Why would we spend money on a new vacuum when you never use the one we already have?”

    And how have you coped with your subsequent widowhood?

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