The social effects of new technologies are usually a mixed bag, but there’s one technology that breaks the mold: GPS car navigation systems, which could just be the salvation of modern marriage.
My wife and I recently spent a week on the road in Europe, finding our way through the narrow, knotted streets of Prague and other cities, and before we set off on the trip I was afraid only one of us would make it back after the challenge. If money and sex are the top two causes of conflict in marriage, getting from here to there can’t be far behind.
With a TomTom suction-cupped to the windshield of our rented Ford, though, we breezily traveled to nightmarish addresses like Letenska 12/33 and Arnulfstrasse 52 virtually without incident. I almost felt nostalgic for the marital road rites of vacations past—the testy exchanges, the shouted requests for directions at major intersections, the final eruption of mutual denunciations. Instead, the soothing voice of Tommy—our GPS even allowed us to choose a voice for it, and in the interest of marital harmony I selected the suave Irishman we called Tommy over the intriguing Englishwoman—guided us to even the most obscure locations. Tommy and I quickly developed a high degree of trust. When he directed me to drive down an unmarked dirt road in the German countryside, I turned almost without hesitation; a similar instruction from my wife would have led to one of those hasty roadside confabs that usually end with red faces or worse.
Hardly anybody seems to appreciate the marital benefits of GPS. If you google marriage and gps, you’ll find more entries on how to use the technology to get the goods on a cheating spouse than hymns to its harmony-inducing powers. There are 61 million married couples in America, and many of them are on the road to ruin, yet according to the Consumer Electronics Association only about half of American households have a GPS. The math is obvious. Save the money you spend on make-up roses and marriage counselors and get yourself a Tommy today.