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Use Economic Principles to Solve Marriage Problems

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Use Economics to Solve Marriage Problems
Spousonomics - Random House

Spousonomics is about applying economics to solving marriage problems. © Photo courtesy of Random House

Using economics to solve your marriage problems and improve your relationship might seem unromantic. But Jenny Anderson and Paula Szuchman, financial reporters and authors of Spousonomics: Using Economics to Master Love, Marriage, and Dirty Dishes (Random House, February 2011), say any information that can help you better understand how to argue more productively, negotiate household chores, and have more sex has romance written all over it. Here, they offer a peek at how to apply economics to common marriage problems -

Q - What have you learned in writing this book?

Anderson - I learned I'm loss averse. In my own marriage, I'm competitive. I like to win and have the last word. Economists have documented this [behavior in others, too]. Now, I recognize that I'm fighting just to win and not to help the marriage. As a result, I can re-frame the argument and keep from losing my temper.

Szuchman - We say, "Go to bed angry, and see how you feel in the morning." You can revisit the argument in a calmer way. It never hurts to get some sleep.

Q - What are some examples of how to relate economic principles to marriage?

Szuchman - We have an entire chapter devoted to the division of labor and household chores. Many people think 50/50 is the best way to divide chores. That's a mistake because you end up constantly keeping score. Two trading partners should specialize in what they do best and then trade, so everyone ends up ahead. What do you each do best? Am I better at cleaning and are you better at paying the bills?

Anderson - For newlyweds, the belief is that sex either will stay as good as it is or get really, really bad. There's a chapter on supply and demand and sex. To have more sex, you have to make it easier to have sex. Remove the expectation of four-hour foreplay with lavender-scented candlelit dinner. And just do it.

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