10 Things I Can Do for You That Won’t Make Me Any Worse Off AKA, A Pareto-Efficient Marriage*

I came up with this list as an early valentine for my husband:

1. Help with garbage night.
2. Join you in the 30-day meditation challenge.
3. Not remind you when you have to make up a work shift at the food coop.
4. Use my Petzl head lamp when I’m reading in bed and you’re already asleep.
5. Work on my tone of voice when I’m frustrated.
6. Pick my battles.
7. Entertain notion that my way isn’t the only way.
8. Try again to make braised pork shoulder.
9. Give Sonny & the Sunsets another chance.
10. Let things go.

*Pareto efficiency means there’s no simple change that would make either person happier, or just as happy. So if there are things you can do to make your partner happier–and it doesn’t actually make you any worse off (and really, what makes you THAT worse off?)–then your marriage isn’t yet Pareto efficient.

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7 Responses to 10 Things I Can Do for You That Won’t Make Me Any Worse Off AKA, A Pareto-Efficient Marriage*

  1. My ueber-nerd partner and I take this concept to a ridiculous (and I mean that literally, though we accept our friends’ ridicule good-naturedly) extreme. Pareto efficiency is a very low bar, from our perspective. We aim for 100% social efficiency. So if there’s something you can do for your partner that makes them better off than it makes you worse off, do it! (And conversely, if it doesn’t, don’t!) Of course we’re not willing to sacrifice Pareto efficiency (we said it was a low bar). So that means we pay each other to do things, and have mini-auctions to determine who should do what.

    But, yeah, Pareto efficiency is a good first step! In fact, for the reasons you point out, lack of Pareto efficiency is patently ridiculous.

  2. Wow. Fascinating. We’re not there yet, but today I will be posting my list and linking back to you. I think the hubby will love it. He says I nag him all the time about the little stuff, and I’m sure that shutting up wouldn’t hurt me at all. :-)

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  4. Pingback: 10 Things I Can Do to Make You Happy That Won’t Make Me Any Less | Man Wife And Dog Blog

  5. ManWifeDog says:

    Told you I was going to write my ow. Just posted it! Very therapeutic exercise!

    10 Things I Can Do To Make My Husband Happy That Won’t Make Me Any Less

    Thanks again for sharing the lesson. :-)

  6. Ed says:

    A game theory professor with a very nice life in the Hollywood hills lives by the minimax principle, you are only as happy as the least happy of you and your spouse. While not strictly true in all cases, I find that it is pretty darn close.

  7. Pingback: 10 Things I Can Do to Make My Man Happy (and Not Make Me Any Less So) | A Novel Idea

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