Study and Subvert


by Meg Keene, Editor-In-Chief

Study and Subvert | A Practical Wedding

When doing my weekly slow browse through the New York Times Magazine, I came across this gem in and article about the modern Disney road trip by John Jeremiah Sullivan:

M. J. often springs trips and appointments on me, in some cases literally overnight, knowing that if she removes the time factor, I won’t be able to generate bogus neurotic back-out plans. Many of the best vacation memories of my life I owe to these strategies, which prove again a useful principle for all couples: don’t try to change each other. Study and subvert each other.

A recent conversation with David:

Me: Gina says that it never works to try to change my mind directly, but if she convinces me that her idea was actually my idea in the first place, I just don’t remember it, then I’m delighted to go along with the new plan. Isn’t that genius?

David:  I’ve been doing that for years.

Study and subvert.

Picture: Sunday Dim Sum, makeup-less

Meg Keene

Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. Her first book, A Practical Wedding: Creative Solutions for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebration, was published in January 2012, and has been a top three bestseller on the wedding bookshelf ever since. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and son.

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  • http://hartandsolphoto.com Maddie

    Ok, first of all you two are entirely too pretty.

    Secondly, I didn’t realize this was a tactic! I am always yelling at Michael because he likes to take credit for my ideas. I just never realized that this is also how I silently get my ideas to become house rules. :)

    I’m also a big fan of “Just let me try this. You don’t have to exert any energy and it will make our lives easier.” It’s like my writing teachers used to tell me: Show, don’t tell.

    • http://lizziesayssparkysays.tumblr.com FawMo

      I only got C to go along with the slimline, black velvet-covered hangers I’d been obsessing over by telling him that if he hated them in two weeks we could go back.

  • Shannon

    Ha ha ha, this is awesome!! That thing that people do with you, convincing you something was your idea? Yeah, so familiar… we all do that with my dad. I’m still figuring out how to subvert my partner… He can be a tough cookie to crack (or is it nut to crack?), but I’m working on it!

  • http://jolynn.wordpress.com Jo

    Yep, you guys are adorbs. And this is genius. Working with each other’s every bit.

  • http://www.thefamiliarwilderness.com Erin

    Oh yes. I thought I was brilliant when I first started applying this principle to my husband. After seeing it in print this weekend, I suddenly had to wonder how well it’s been working on me too ;)

  • http://www.ohdeerio.com Rachelle

    1) TRUTH.
    2) You guys are adorable.
    3) We need a lazy girl DIY on how you get all these great pictures all the time.

    That is all : )

    • meg

      Re point three. Very easy:

      * Buy nice camera (Used., so it’s cheap, SLR). * Buy 50mm 1.8 lens. (Plastic, so it’s cheap.) * If you’re feeling FLUSH, buy 50mm 1.4 lens, glass, but I’m not that fancy yet. * Take pictures. * Fin.

      Anyone who tells you it’s not the lens is full of sh*t.

      • http://hartandsolphoto.com Maddie

        Preach it, sister.

        (This is exactly the advice I give anyone looking to take better pictures but who want to spend less than $1K)

        • meg

          I spent $400 I think, INCLUDING a huge ass memory card. Yeah, business expense ;)

      • http://www.ohdeerio.com Rachelle

        I have those! Maybe the key for us is not having Stephen take the picture himself by holding the camera out at arm’s length. Go figure, ha!

        • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

          We do arm’s length pictures all the time! I absolutely love them and they’ve become our favorite way to chronicle an event. Any time we go some where we have to get an arm’s length picture of ourselves. It started becoming a tradition with a few classics from our honeymoon.

      • http://discerningdilettante.blogspot.com ka

        Hah! This is exactly what we’ve done. Scot loves his 50mm—and I love it too for its magical flattering capabilities.

  • Marchelle

    Ha! Study and subvert – brilliant. And so very true.

  • http://discerningdilettante.blogspot.com ka

    “M. J. often springs trips and appointments on me, in some cases literally overnight, knowing that if she removes the time factor, I won’t be able to generate bogus neurotic back-out plans.”

    I *wish* this worked for me! But instead, I tend to do it accidentally by thinking I’ve said something out loud that I only thought. This results in Scott finding out things last minute, like learning the nite before that he has to drive 2 hours to Asheville, NC after a flight into Charlotte, NC, etc. In my defense though, you’d think he’d ask how long a drive is before agreeing to it. Or open google maps!!

    • Carbon Girl

      This is so my problem too! I cannot remember what I have said out loud or not. I end up saying some things twice and others not until the last minute and my husband is always so surprised! oops.

  • http://intrepidbrytani.wordpress.com Brytani

    It seems that people have learned to use me to subvert Hubs. Last week his sister called me to invite us to a last-minute graduation party because she knew I would say yes and make him come. Sneaky, his sisters.
    Now how do I subvert him to actually want to see his family without the use of force? Why do I feel guilty for even asking that?

    • Em

      Did he enjoy himself when he got there?
      I ask, because sometimes I need dragging out of the house kicking and screaming and afterwards I’m so glad I went; and so does husband-elect. Sometimes that’s an important part of a partnership.

  • clampers

    Haha, this reminds me of a more modern, gender-balanced version of the same advice offered in women’s magazines in the 1940s and ’50s…they would always advise wives to lead the husband into thinking that he came up with the idea.

    Hey, it’s always worked for me!

    • meg

      I’d feel bad about playing the role of 40′s husband, except aforementioned friend Gina has been using this trick on me since I was 16. So clearly I’m just stubborn/ easily manipulatable ;)

    • AL

      Yeah, I also remember hearing this advice been given to the girls from the 40′s , and 50′s in the movie “Mona Lisa Smile”. When I read it, I was like mmm I heard this before somewhere… and there was it

  • http://bunniesnbeagles.blogspot.com Ms. Bunny

    I’ve been trying my hand at this tactic for a little while now. I have to report that it does work nicely. More so than overtly trying to change behavior.

    And I also need to add that this pic is so cute. Look at you two!

  • MamaMelli

    That second part… so true. There’s a part in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” (which should probably be the movie mascot for APW) where the mom tells her daughter about how to make the dad believe great ideas are his. Also, favorite line: “Your father may be the head of this family, but I am neck, and the neck turns the head.”

  • Class of 1980

    Since no one else said it, I’ll say it … I love you makeup-less.

    • Anna

      Meg- your skin is flawless and absolutely glowing!

      Your hubby isn’t too shabby either…

      • meg

        He’s not wearing makeup either!

        And it’s not glowing, silly, that’s the lens and the F-stop!

    • http://www.thebourbontower.com Melanie

      I was going to say the same thing. I mean about liking your makeup-less-ness.

      • Carbon Girl

        I love your freckles! I had no idea you had them. Less makeup is the way to go! You look fantastic.

  • http://howsheworeit.blogspot.com sorrelle

    I love love love weekend editon NY TIMES and after reading that article last week I am a little afraid and intrigued by Disney. I can’t stop thinking about Celebration FL. It looks so perfect and scary at the same time.

    • http://contradictorylife.wordpress.com Barbra

      It’s actually less interesting then you might think. Not perfect, not scary, usually, although they do blow fake snow into the streets at Christmas time.

  • http://howsheworeit.blogspot.com sorrelle

    By the way you guys look pretty much the same as in grade school simply lovely.

    • meg

      Awww (and she knows, y’all!)

  • http://corrieanne.com/ Corrie Anne

    Hilarious & true.

    And I love the photography advice you gave in the comments. Nice.

  • http://chilingwang.com Chi-Ling

    Genius indeed. I tend to only recognize good ideas the second or third time they are brought to my attention. Better late than never?

    • http://www.twitter.com/kahlia kahlia

      My partner’s the same way. I don’t always have to make him think it was his idea, but I do have to bring it up gradually. Sometimes I start by just casually mentioning it (preferably as an example of something that other people are doing), then later offer it as a suggestion of something that we could maybe do, then much later either just implementing it or saying something like, “I would really like to do X, so I’m going to start next week. I’d love for you to participate.”

  • http://www.alosangeleslove.com Becca

    Shhh. You’ll give away all my secrets. Jason can’t ever see this post.

  • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

    This past week I realized that while my husband makes me much more likely to stand up for my decisions rather than go with the easy solution. He’s done that by studying me and realizing I often need to talk through my thinking to convince myself of what I need to do next. So he’s gotten real good at knowing when to listen and knowing when he needs to ask follow-up questions and what-if questions. And then I end up doing what I want to do, or need to do (sometimes I don’t want to do what I need to do) rather than what people think I should do.

    Go him for figuring me out!

  • http://lizziesayssparkysays.tumblr.com FawMo

    This totally warms my heart. Way to go, Stealth David.

  • http://amidlifeofprivilege.blogspot.com LPC

    There’s so much affection in that small exchange. Study and subvert, in a good way:).

  • RoseHall

    I can’t stop thinking about Celebration FL. It looks so perfect and scary at the same time.

    • Carbon Girl

      Definitely scary, trust me.

  • Marina

    All about “study and subvert”. My husband is methodical verging on neurotic… and rather than try and speed him up, I’ve learned to just let him take on all the tasks that need research and methodical application! Booyah, less work for me.

  • http://happenstancebride.wordpress.com Helen Elizabeth

    I always have problems deciding if my subversion is in line with our “honest marriage” philosophy. It almost always wins out, though. I asked Mr. Dear if he had the same qualms when he does it to me, and he DOES. Mt first thought was “Marriage of equals!!”

  • http://love-vs.blogspot.com Vilija

    I also had to chime in – make-up or not you look so happy! I think that you and David look great and you can’t let a camera with a good lens take credit for the fact that you look happy. I’ve started the subversion technique in my house because it totally works at my job (with administrators and students alike). I’ll see how it works and will report back.

  • kyley

    It’s all about understanding how the other person’s mind work. My partner takes a very long time to think through things, and this makes deciding on a restaurant for dinner A PROCESS. If I want to eat at 7, I start casually discussing options at 4, well before I’m hungry and prone to being cranky, and everyone’s happy.