Economic Principles to Save Your Marriage


A new book purports to apply principles of economics to head off common relationship gripes at the pass. Spousonomics: Using Economics to Master Love, Marriage, and Dirty Dishes tells its readers that in order to succeed in the impossible jungle of marriage, you need to come armed with the machete of common sense and the mosquito curtain of rationality. The same economic mistakes that cause people to lose money in their stock portfolios also cause marriages to dissolve, argue the authors.

I’ve never been married and thus it would be a little goofy for me to claim to be some kind of marriage expert, but much of what the authors of the unfortunately-named Spousonomics book seem to be onto something, at least as it applies to longer-term relationships.

For example, the authors claim that the same aversion to loss that causes investors to hang onto plummeting stocks also causes married couples to keep on fighting long after both parties have forgotten what was being debated. Makes sense! I hate being wrong, as do most of the people I date. It probably would serve me well to let things go and just give up the fight, just as it would make sense to sell a stock as it drops in value to minimize damage to my portfolio. However, just saying, “You know what? Okay. OKAY. YOU ARE RIGHT.” is not necessarily a good way to end a fight. A stock can’t detect tone of voice when you sell it (“You know what, Potash mining? Fine. FINE. You’re right. Your volatility necessitates that I sell you off before you really hurt me. HAPPY NOW?!”) and thus while it makes sense to cut your losses and end arguments before they mushroom cloud into hoodie-throwing and mother-insulting, you need to convince your partner that you actually mean it, which isn’t something you have to do when tweaking your portfolio.

Regardless, I’ll be interested in seeing what else the authors have to say about principles of economics as they relate to behavior within relationships, and I’m doubly happy to support two female financial journalists in a world that’s chock full of mansplaining.

Can These Economic Theories Save Your Marriage? [Daily Finance]

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