Take their Halloween-planning, for example. Ms. Harper gave her husband the task of ordering costumes, but because she didn’t accept his theme for the family—he wanted them all to dress up as characters from “The Powerpuff Girls,” but she worried no one would get it—he bounced it back to her. They ended up agreeing to be “Mario Bros.” characters and splitting the costume-ordering responsibilities.
Sara Blanchard and her husband, John Frederick, had been sharing a to-do list on the Wunderlist app but it went largely ignored by Mr. Frederick until his wife created a new category called “stuff that needs to get done because I see it every day and it is driving me crazy.” It included cleaning the backyard cushions, scrubbing the fountain and buying new bike locks for their two daughters.
Mr. Frederick, an airline pilot, admits he didn’t make his wife’s previous lists a priority but that her new designation got his attention. “It was not only the humorous nature of it but the emotional element that resonated with me,” said Mr. Frederick, who completed most of the items the second day after he returned home to Denver following a flight from Hong Kong.
“I felt so loved,” said Ms. Blanchard, who hosts a social-justice podcast. “But the best part was not nagging him.”