Here is a true story you might learn something from: Matthew and Sherry have been married for over a year and one of their biggest controversies deals with time. Matthew believes in “precision timing,” which means arriving at an event precisely as it begins. His idea of arriving to church on time is that his ass should hit the pew at the same split second that the organ goes “Deeeee” to kick off the first hymn.

Sherry’s idea of timing is to arrive well in advance of the start of an event so she can survey the layout of the room, pick the best seat in the house, go to the restroom a time or two, and watch other people as they arrive.

Warped Senses of Time

How did these two people end up with these extreme perceptions of time and timing? Well, when Matthew was a child, his parents were always the first ones to arrive at an event. They would arrive at church about an hour before the start of the service and they would sit in the car until at least a half dozen other carloads showed up; then they would go in. If they went to an event to be held at the 4,000 seat high school gymnasium, you guessed it—they would be the first ones there, sitting in the car. That’s what shaped Matthew’s last-second, precision-timing sense of time.

When Sherry was a child, her family was always late for everything. If they went to a movie, the main feature would already be underway as they stumbled around in the dark trying to find seats without sitting on someone else’s lap. If they went to an event to be held at the 4,000 seat high school gymnasium, you guessed it – they would be the last ones there and would end up sitting in the nose bleed section or standing along the wall because all the seats were taken. That’s what shaped Sherry’s get-there-early sense of time.

The people that we’re referring to about having “warped senses of time” are not Matthew and Sherry; it’s their screwball parents.

Some people grow up to be exactly like their parents. Because their parents were so extreme in how they viewed time and timing, however, Matthew and Sherry each vowed to never be like them, and they turned out the opposite of their parents. End of psychology lesson.

Even though you and Abby are not Matthew and Sherry described in this story, there is a high likelihood that you are very much like them when it comes to your individual attitudes toward time and timing. Therefore, I shall make the following astute observations and suggestions.


Before you go scrambling for a dictionary, I’ll tell you—synchronization is the process of bringing two elements together at the precise same moment in perfect harmony. Some people refer to as being “in sync.” In other words, getting you and your wife to the same place at the same time, and liking it.

Here are our suggestions:

  • I know that you already thought of setting your wife’s clock back a half hour, but that won’t work, so scratch that idea.
  • I know that you thought about lying to your wife about the starting time of an event, telling her it starts later than it actually does. This will work only once, so scratch it as a long-term solution.
  • I know that you have thought about taking two different cars to an event. She can go ahead and grab a couple of seats; you’ll get there when you get there. Not a bad idea. It’s an even better idea if your wife goes on ahead with a like-minded friend to save some seats and you and a like-minded buddy show up later on.
  • Perhaps you and your wife can go your own separate ways to your own events on your own time schedules. Your wife can go to her events with a friend and you can go to your events with a buddy. Could work, once in a while, anyway.
  • Since your wife thinks about time the same way your parents do, maybe they can go to events together. Since you think about time the same way her parents do, maybe you can go to events with them. Wait a minute – going to events with each others’ parents? What an idiotic idea. This ain’t gonna work.
  • Most of the above ideas have a fatal flaw – somehow, you and your wife are not going to these events together, and you should.
  • Ah, the solution: Why don’t you split the difference. Compromise. You agree to go 15 or 20 minutes earlier than you want, and Abby can agree to go 15 or 20 minutes later than she wants, and you can go together. You’ll each give a little and both gain a lot. Have fun.

I know that by now you have come to expect brilliant, mind-boggling suggestions and solutions from me, but in this case, this is the best I can do. Live with it.

Excerpt is from Marital Advice to my Grandson, Joel: How to be a husband your wife won’t throw out of the window in the middle of the night
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