For most of us audio junkies who are married or otherwise joined together, we are keenly aware of the “wife acceptance factor” (WAF). When we were single, we didn’t have to answer to anyone about our personal expenditures, especially for the hobbies we enjoyed most. But the moment we said, “I do,” the concept of “my money” was to be banished from your lips ‘til death do us part. This problem was exacerbated when the crumb snatchers (i.e., kids) arrived and our disposable income dries up until the youngest one finishes college.
Two decades ago, wives formed a rebellion against large loudspeakers, and men quickly acquiesced to their demands. By the 1990s, speaker manufacturers developed new technologies to decrease the size of speakers. Gone are the good ‘ol days when men had more purchasing authority. Today, may God have mercy on your soul if you bring home speakers bigger than a bread box without consulting the better half.
Twenty years ago, all we needed were a pair of huge Polk SDA speakers, a monstrous solid state amp, and an Archie Bunker lounge chair. Today, WAF power is behind the exploding sales of flat panel televisions. Electronics manufacturers are also shifting to products with high WAF such as in-wall speakers, components in pretty colors, speakers with furniture grade veneer, and leather recliners with cup holders.
Before you single guys start calling men who compromise with their wives on audio purchases a bunch of sniveling wimps, let’s set the record straight – we don’t manage the household – our wives do. That’s just a cold, stark reality that most married men must endure. And when it comes to spending money, especially for significant capital outlays for what most women consider to be “unnecessary” audio purchases, you better prepare for the war of words. In this war, men have a distinct disadvantage – we base our arguments on facts and logic. Because of this, our shattered egos often leave us aurally impotent.
So what can real men do to protect their frontier from the final WAF invasion? Here are some pearls of wisdom on effective WAF management. Culled from extensive research of thousands of audiophile households (not!), here are the official WAF management guidelines:
- The needs of the family come first. It’s not cool to have $10K in McIntosh amps and your children’s teeth are as crooked as the mighty Mississippi.
- If possible, get your own room and set up your audio system there (i.e., a man cave). Let your spouse decorate the rest of the house.
- Get home before your spouse on audio delivery days, set up the equipment, and hide the original boxes. Most of the time she won’t even notice you got some new gear.
- Keep it simple. Get a single remote that can operate everything and show her how to use it.
- Show some support for her hobbies, even if you hate things like gardening and shoe shopping.
- Do not placate your wife with a gift due to your recent audio expenditures. It’s a slippery slope that will cost you dearly.
- If you bought new speakers and your wife ever says, “I can’t hear the difference, so why are you wasting money?” Your response should NOT be: “Well, I can’t tell the difference between the eight pairs of black pumps you own, either.” Instead, talk about how the speakers accent the décor.
- Get yourself some decent audiophile friends. Women like it when their husbands aren’t hanging around with their typical loser friends who come over your house to raid the frig and drink your beer.
- Get your children involved in the hobby. This strategy is a great WAF diffuser.
- Make your system more appealing. Buy nice audio furniture. Employ good cable management. Use plants to hide the big box in the corner called a subwoofer.
- Set up an audio account. Don’t feel guilty about it. Believe me, your wife has a secret stash of money just in case things don’t work out between the two of you.
- Be patient. Spread your purchases out in order to diffuse the ONS (obligatory nag sessions). Follow these simple rules and you’ll be well on your way to buying whatever audio gear you want, whenever you want it (OK, maybe that’s laying it on too thick). The real trick is to be relentlessly consistent in your efforts to upgrade. Over time, you’ll wear her defense shield down and she’ll finally accept the fact that you’re a hopelessly incorrigible audiophile. That’s when you have mastered WAF management.
Now, where did I put my American Express card? I’m gonna buy some 6 ft. tall line arrays and a pair of 15” stereo subs. My wife better not say a damn thing about it! But just in case she does, I’ve got a comfy couch to sleep on…