Today, the inimitable Jessica Gottlieb answers a few questions about her marriage to the dapper Mr. G. Gottlieb practically invented “mom blogging,” though her blog is way more than a parenting site. Her topics run the gamut from car mechanic reviews to political critiques to sweetly honest takes on marriage. She’s not an economist, but she’s a badass, and like us, she doesn’t mince words.
1. In Spousonomics, we talk a lot about information exchange–information and transparency are key for a functioning economy, just like in a marriage. But is there such a thing as too much information between spouses?
There is a such thing. If you don’t have girlfriends your marriage is doomed. Women need to talk WAY more than men need to listen. I could go on and on for hours without really getting to the point, and then my poor husband would be frustrated.
My husband never wants to know how I get rid of body hair. That is what a blog is for. My husband should never see smell or hear toilet functions. I’m not kidding ladies. I’ve been married 13 years, and they can either look at your butt and see something incredibly sexy or look at it and be reminded of hideous sights and smells. Let it be the former.
2. You’ve described your relationship with your husband as symbiotic. Besides him overlooking your supposed flaws (what was it? a hairy lip?) what else makes your marriage symbiotic?
He makes me a better person. We have very different skills. I’m quirky to the point of weirdness, he’s reliable and has an incredible work ethic. I don’t know how much playing my husband would do without me, and I know I wouldn’t have the skills to buckle down and run this house without him. His needs for cleanliness and order help keep us all on track.
Sometimes I’ll relay a story that a friend has told me and end with, “isn’t that awful?”, and his constant response is, “there are two sides to every story.” Which sounds trite but it’s true. There ARE two sides to every story, my side, and the wrong side.
What’s best of all though is that we both care about different things. I don’t love my house, it’s no secret that it’s the house my husband had wanted. What I do love is my family and I simply don’t care where we live I just want us all happy in the house together. Mr G doesn’t care much about cars, yoga or the quality of food, but he understands and respects that I do. My husband needs his friends, football and poker aren’t indulgences, they’re part of being a complete person, and I give him the space he needs and deserves.
I think if the two of us got wound up by the same things we’d have a pretty unhappy marriage.
3. Signaling, in economics, is what people do to communicate information into each other–often information that speaks to their reliability. What signals did you send to your husband when you first met that you were a woman he could depend on?
I’ve always been pretty straight forward. When we dated I did a lot of entertaining from my home. My husband appreciated a hot meal, and he loved being waited on. I still love serving him dinner and I’ve never opened my own car door when I’m with him. It’s not an even trade, but it’s a signal that we both enjoy taking care of each other. These things matter, they’re like little deposits of goodwill that you may need at a later date.
After we’d been dating six months or so I told that I really liked him, but that I wasn’t going to the be the girl who turned 30 and looked up and realized she’d spent five years with a guy that she would never marry. We didn’t have a big long discussion about US, but we did talk about those people that we knew who had “wasted” many good years when they could have been dating and enjoying their lives a little more.
4. Getting back to the hairy lip. How do you keep your marriage from being something you take for granted?
Our four parents had nine weddings. We are both well aware that marriages require work.
5. How do you divide the housework? Is there room for improvement in your system?
I clean the house, and he pays for everything in it. I know, I know, I’m totally nibbling a Brontosaurus burger while I’m typing this, but that’s how we do things here.
My husband works a long hard day. Typically I’d say he works harder than I do, so I like having everything done for him. I think this has benefited his career, and I know I’m really quite happy staying home providing the back up support. Mr G is basically tidy so I don’t feel like I’m his maid, but this house is mine and it’s mine to maintain.
6. Have you figured out a way to argue more efficiently? Like, to reach resolution and smiles more quickly?
Never ever call names. Never ever threaten to leave. Don’t apologize for things you aren’t sorry for, that’s just mean, and for the love of all things Holy don’t fight about things that don’t matter. If you sit down and look at your part in things it’s unlikely that what you’re angry about matters one bit.