Have you ever gone to the “dark place” after a fight about who does the dishes more often? Do you worry that your job is destroying your marriage? Have you ever sat up at night, remembering how much more fun married life used to be?
Enter SPOUSONOMICS (Random House Hardcover; February 2011), a book that offers a brilliant, fresh twist to standard relationship advice by showing how economics—yes, economics—is the key to a happy marriage.
Paula Szuchman and Jenny Anderson, journalists from The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, present a radical new idea: Every marriage is its own little economy, a business of two with a finite number of resources that need to be allocated efficiently. With great wit, insight, and compelling stories from real-life couples, Szuchman and Anderson apply bedrock economic principles to some of the most common conflicts in domestic life. Some examples include:
Division of Labor (Or, Why You Should Do the Dishes): Exposing the fallacy of the 50/50 marriage split. Some people are better at, say, making school lunches, while others panic at the sight of a vacuum cleaner. Here’s a tip: Do what you’re “relatively” good at and “trade” the rest.
Incentives (Or, Getting Your Spouse to Do What You Want): How getting your spouse to finally pay the bills on time is simply a matter of finding the right incentive.
Trade-offs (Or, The Art of Getting Over It): The simple beauty of the cost-benefit analysis. Let’s break down that four-day trip to Cabo with your friends. Costs: A grumpy wife, $700 airfare, kids that miss you. Benefits: a savage tan, enough Don Julio to inflict permanent damage, uninterrupted sleep. Verdict?
Supply and Demand (Or, How to Have More Sex): Talking your sex life to death, waiting until the kids are asleep and you’re both catatonic, not admitting that lingerie turns you on—all bad habits that raise costs and lower demand. The key to keeping your sex life hot is keeping it affordable.
Moral Hazard (Or, the Too-Big-to-Fail Marriage): Remember when you used to go to the gym and kept your muffin top in check? Vaguely recall saying “Thanks” and “You look hot” once in a blue moon? Wonder what the point is of wearing clean underwear? If you’ve settled into a comfortable indifference, your marriage has hit moral hazard mode—and don’t count on a bailout.
The result is a smart, fun, readable, and deeply-researched book that appeals to both men and women and that brings us one giant step closer to solving the age-old riddle of a happy, healthy marriage.
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