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Recently I was watching a video of a popular influencer showing his morning routine. I was impressed by how much he had automated his morning tasks--turning his lights on via voice command, building a small gadget to turn on his appliances with a phone, and such--that it inspired me to want to do the same with my significant other and my routine.

When I told my fiancee my desire to automate our more mundane tasks, she was reluctant of the idea. She kept mentioning how she felt that the cost of buying these tools for automation was not worth it and associated that these tasks were trivial enough that not doing them is being lazy.

She has expressed similar opinions on this when I had once previously offered up the idea of having our groceries delivered to us to avoid taking a trip to the store after we got off work.

For clarification, we are not tight on money. I explained to my fiancee before that there are certain tasks I would like to just invest the money in for us to not have to do if it meant it'll save us time. This has resulted us in getting in arguments in which have never led to a resolution. I am getting tired of this topic coming up only for us to never reach a compromise. However, I'm having trouble finding a way to have this talk without it abruptly ending.

How can I talk to my fiancee about my desire to automate things without it leading to an argument?

  • Just to clarify, are these tasks currently not getting done? If they are getting done, are you both sharing them equally, or do you have a different way of splitting them up? Does she complain about having to do them, or do they currently just seem to bother you? – 1006a Oct 26 '18 at 19:07
  • As a whole, there are some tasks that go left undone for weeks when they should be done weekly. We split the tasks up, so no person is just solely doing a particular task consistently. There are some tasks that she has complained is annoying to do, which I've suggested we can automate. I've expressed a more vocal distaste towards doing some tasks I feel can be automated. – Russ Wilkie Oct 26 '18 at 19:14
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I'm going to assume you perceive your fiance as a reasonable and decent human being. This means that when she says "no" to your requests for more automation she is not doing so in order to insult or antagonize you and she has a reasonable reason. It's great that you want to work on better communication!

It might be that she enjoys doing these mundane things with you, it might be that it sounds like a waste of money for her, it might be any number of things which none of us really know but your fiance probably does :)

I would like to echo what scohe001 said in their answer. It's very important to start conversations with an open-mind and a willingness to hear each other out.

I would like to suggest an alternative to the proposed solution though:

Hey, I would like to talk to you about automation. I realise this is a topic that has been contested and caused arguments before. I love you and we're getting married so I really want to figure this out together. I would like to learn more about your opinion on the topic - do you think we can have a friendly conversation about that?

Then, actually hear her out and try to understand her objections to certain aspects of automation. Do not presume this is about money (or anything else) and do not criticize her objections or attack her. The fact a discussion is "tiring" means that people have gone from "understanding each other" to "winning".

Instead, acknowledge her objections and try to genuinely understand them. Ask clarifying questions when you don't understand and try to figure out objective measures together for those objections. Be sure that you are approaching the discussion with an open mind and a true intention to understand her rather than win an argument.

Then once you understand what her objections are. You can ask her:

Given automation is something I care about and given your objections X, Y and Z. Do you think we can define some measures and rules together and figure out how to make it work?

Then, think together about what you can do in terms of automation. Explain why it is important to you. Be honest if it's just recreational fun - that's not a bad thing! Inspiration is often both important and helpful.

Stick to objective facts. Saying "You're never supportive of my ideas " for example isn't helpful when your'e frustrated - saying "I am frustrated" is entirely fine.

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    Accepting this answer because I feel it opens the conversation to compromise. I sat down and talked with her and learned that certain morning habits I talked about automating were something she relies on to wake up in the morning. She was worried if I automated everything it'll break these habits she built. We agreed she'll be up for automating a lot of tasks, but we'll talk out each one to see if the end result is mutually beneficial. – Russ Wilkie Oct 29 '18 at 13:41
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    @RussWilkie it makes me very happy to learn that dialog helped improve the situation. It's also a great step towards better communication in general. Good work and good job listening! – Benjamin Gruenbaum Oct 29 '18 at 13:43
  • I would also add that there will always be things that you want to buy that she thinks are not worth spending your shared income on, and vice versa. My husband and I have the same issues. One thing we did that helped was to sit down and decide on a budget, including a "personal spending" allowance, equal for both of you, to spend as you choose without hearing any complaints from the other person. The issue to address isn't about what you are spending your money on, but how you decide how to spend it. – Francine DeGrood Taylor Aug 19 at 15:59
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    I think it is very important to have your own things in a marriage; your own special space, your own "allowance", your own time, etc. But it is also important that both partners feel that the division of labor, money and time is equal, or at least as equal as you can make it. – Francine DeGrood Taylor Aug 19 at 16:02
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Consider that you yourself might not have thought about the downsides and concentrated only on the (perceived) value, ignoring the costs. You owe your fiancee an honest attempt at understanding what her objections are.

Automation like that very often is a pointless gimmick that looks neat on video, but offers negligible benefits at best, and is a nuisance and/or a risk at worst. Some of the reasons for that are:

  • "Smart" devices can be really dumb. Just think, when was the last time you used an automated tap and/or auto-flush toilet without being frustrated by it in some way? Have you never wished for a plain old manual tap that does exactly what you want when confronted with a poorly-made automatic one? Now think, do you really want to subject yourself (and your fiancee, who didn't feel the need to do this, but will now be forced to tag along for the ride!) to this, day in and day out?
  • Most of the time, you're the product, not the consumer. Alexa, Google Home, Apple's iwhatever, those are all devices whose primary function is to lock you in tighter into the respective ecosystem and collect as much data to be monetised as possible. They might look shiny and sleek and be sold as solving the problems you didn't know you had, but the real #1 problem they solve is how to tie the consumers more to the vendor's platform
  • Smart/IoT devices are notoriously insecure and poorly supported by the vendor after release. The software quality is usually awful, they fail to follow even the simplest security practices, and more often than not, they vastly overstep their own privacy policy. Are you really OK with Samsung knowing every single thing you've ever watched on your TV? And sending it over the internet unencrypted? Because that actually happened. And the more devices you add, the greater the potential for catastrophic interactions. You might not care that your smart fridge isn't very secure, but when its Twitter integration is used by an attacker to gain access to your home network from which they can exploit a flaw in your smart lock to let themselves in, you'll think differently.
  • Integration and compatibility is a hard problem in general, and the fact there are almost no standards at the moment makes it even worse. Are you prepared to spend your evenings over the next year or more just trying to get all your devices to talk to each other properly in every situation? You've only seen the highlight reel on someone's video designed to make it look good; you haven't actually lived with their automation. Maybe they need to restart every device twice a day to keep things running. Maybe their lights come on at random times of the night and wake them up. Maybe their appliance gadget only works 80% of the time, which means it works just enough to get used, but whenever you try to rely on it, it fails and now you have to constantly be prepared to handle the failure?

Those are just some problems, I could list more. The bottom line is, you seem to have implicitly assumed that you're right about it, and now your fiancee just needs to be convinced of it. But that's not a given, and you should absolutely listen to what she has to say. If you just want a neat DIY project to play with, go ahead, but don't treat it like something that's guaranteed to be better than what you have right now.

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You proposed an idea to your fiancee and she shot it down. You then had two options: accept her answer is no, or try to continue arguing the point. You chose the latter.

One of the most important parts of non-confrontational conversations is listening. This means listening to the words they say but it also means listening to their tone, and even listening with your eyes to their body language. If your fiancee said "No." with her words, tone and/or body language then you need to hear them and respect that, otherwise the conversation will end in conflict.

Just bringing up the point again will only result in more of the same. From her perspective, you're still not listening. She's made her point clear. So if you want to tell her that you've decided to buy these things with your own money, or something else unrelated to trying to convince her, I'd start by showing her that you've really heard her:

Hey hun, I've thought a lot about what you said about the automation stuff in our routine and I understand how you feel about it being pretty expensive. I won't try to convince you to buy it all with me anymore, but I think...(stuff you wanted to say about automation here...)

Again, she's made her stance on this clear, continuing to approach her trying to convince her is only an insult to her. I would strongly suggest dropping it.

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I am sorry to hear that she shot your idea down, but I am one who doesn't like to take no as an answer when I am passionate about something. I think it's best here "pick your battles". Ask yourself, “Is home automation or utilizing new technologies something you are particularly passionate about?”

If not - I would go ahead and let this one go. If it’s digging at you in the future, you can revisit it.

If you are - I get it! I am definitely an "efficiency advocate". I think that most people find it frustrating and stressful to automate their home/ (or maybe even use technology in general). I actually LOVE setting up smarthome/IOT devices and connecting all the different services to really make streamline someone's workflow.

If you are unsure - maybe it’s not home automation - but the fact that you just want to simplify your life and maximize quality your time with your fianceé (that’s a good point to use to back up your argument). Well, one thing is for sure... it’s not particularly easy to set up. If you enjoy technology and puzzles then if might be up your alley. If it’s not something you're interested in and you do not have time to start a new DIY project - you can try to find a “smarthome automations” expert to help - it will be easier.

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    This doesn't really answer the question right now. You're not advising OP on how to approach his GF, but rather telling him how to go about automating everything. The advice to pick his battles is advice, but the rest is not telling how to talk about it, just whether. – Johanna Aug 15 at 17:41
  • I see. Thanks for the feedback. 😊 I'm new to this so I'm still learning. I appreciate it. – Allison Varnell Aug 18 at 2:35

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