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A simple puzzle of my own creation:

The heartless man threw down his shovel and laughed as his wife fell into the hole.

There is a very simple explanation as to what is happening here, can you tell me what it is?

I think the answer should be obvious once figured out and solvable without hints, but to avoid any fear of it being too open-ended I'll add a few hints.

Hint 1:

This is a common situation that likely happens many times a day.

Hint 2:

The man loves his wife, but he is still heartless.

Hint 3:

He couldn't have thrown the shovel if he wasn't so heartless.

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  • $\begingroup$ Are the man and the wife both humans? Because my immediate thought is that this is one of those 4chan greentext ruses and the "wife" is actually a golf ball or something. $\endgroup$ – F1Krazy Feb 21 '18 at 22:19
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    $\begingroup$ @F1Krazy their both human, and nothing as bizarre as that. $\endgroup$ – dsollen Feb 21 '18 at 22:22
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    $\begingroup$ Is it just my marriage, or is the surface reading entirely plausible? $\endgroup$ – Rupert Morrish Feb 22 '18 at 1:14
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    $\begingroup$ "I think the answer should be obvious once figured out" Most answers are. $\endgroup$ – Acccumulation Feb 23 '18 at 16:21
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I think the man and his wife...

are playing a card game, specifically Hearts

Hint 3:

The wife led with hearts $\color{red}{\heartsuit}$. If the husband had hearts he would have been required to follow suit. However, since he is heartless, he can discard a shovel (spade ${\spadesuit}$ - even better if it is the Queen, as this will penalize her with 13 points)

Hint 2:

It's just a friendly card game. He is laughing because he knows he's going to win, but still loves her.

Hint 1:

I'm sure a decent number of couples play Hearts on any given day...

And the original riddle:

Mostly explained in Hint 3 above, but since she is leading with hearts, that is probably the only suit she has left, which means she'll be collecting a lot of penalty cards at the end of the game, and therefore "falling in the hole"

But...

The joke's on him, as she is about to shoot the moon!

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  • $\begingroup$ Yep you got it. Though It could apply to any number of other games. $\endgroup$ – dsollen Feb 21 '18 at 23:01
  • $\begingroup$ Brilliant answer!! $\endgroup$ – ABcDexter Feb 22 '18 at 11:23
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    $\begingroup$ I don't understand the "his wife fell into the hole". I've never heard this term before (even though familiar with the context explained in this answer). Is there another meaning I'm missing? $\endgroup$ – Steve Bennett Feb 23 '18 at 0:02
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    $\begingroup$ @SteveBennett I think “dig yourself into a hole” is a more commonly used expression. A hole is just a metaphor for a bad situation that is getting progressively worse (dug deeper) and thus can be fallen into. english.stackexchange.com/a/380166 $\endgroup$ – ferret Feb 23 '18 at 2:28
  • $\begingroup$ "Dig yourself into a hole" is an expression. "Fall into the hole" isn't. $\endgroup$ – Steve Bennett Feb 23 '18 at 3:17
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Not sure about the shovel yet, but is the wife

falling into the toilet because her husband didn't put the seat down?

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    $\begingroup$ Wait this is actually the best answer. $\endgroup$ – NL628 Feb 22 '18 at 5:21
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    $\begingroup$ Without a doubt this answer is the funniest. Take your upvote! $\endgroup$ – humblerookie Feb 22 '18 at 13:28
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I guess I have a partial answer:

They are playing cards. The man does not have any heart-cards and is therefore playing a shovel (spades) card. If he had harts he had to follow suit. He laughs because this situation puts him in front/his wife is losing. I guess it's a characteristic situation for some specific game.

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  • $\begingroup$ not just one. There is a whole genre it would apply to. $\endgroup$ – dsollen Feb 21 '18 at 23:01
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    $\begingroup$ What does falling into the hole mean in this context? Does it just mean losing? $\endgroup$ – NashVio Feb 21 '18 at 23:04
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They are a kind of "prank couple" and he made some booby trap against her...

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    $\begingroup$ That wouldn't be much of a riddle :) $\endgroup$ – Ole Albers Feb 22 '18 at 12:06

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