Go to It! Use Economics to Improve Your Love Life

We all get frustrated with our spouses, partners and roommates. We work, and then we work at home. There’s dinner, laundry, budgeting, and if kids are involved, an avalanche of other responsibilities too. Not to mention finding time for yourself to relax, to go out, to have sex. Who hasn’t had the disagreement: “I washed the dishes last night. It’s totally your turn”?

Originally published as SpousonomicsIt’s Not You, It’s The Dishes is a no-nonsense approach to solving the everyday problems we face in our relationships by applying basic economics principles. As Paula Szuchman and Jenny Anderson write in the introduction, economics is basically the study of how to allocate scarce resources, and what is a relationship (or a marriage) if not a similar kind of juggling act? We all have limited time, money and energy, but we must allocate these resources efficiently. This book shows you how.

One chapter, entitled “Incentives…Or getting your spouse to do what you want,” discusses how sometimes you have to give something to get something back. According to their exhaustive research, some of the most common and effective incentives include giving praise, offering to do something in exchange and explaining the benefits of doing something your partner may not want to do. Economics works on very similar principles: Everybody will do a little more work for a bonus.

A chapter entitled “Asymmetric Information, or why you should tell your partner stuff,” is a frank discussion on how important honesty and transparency is in a relationship. In other words: say what you mean, not what you think your partner wants to hear. This chapter also includes perhaps my favorite graphic in the whole book: The Should-You-Bring-It-Up-O-Meter.

Go to it! Try using a few of these techniques the next time you have a disagreement with your spouse, partner or even your roommate. And if you’re up to it, the authors are running a contest on their Facebook page through June 23. Upload a video describing how you solved problem in your relationship, and you could win a couples massage! Here’s an example from Szuchman and her husband.

Their blog is also chock-full of other little marriage tidbits like, 4 ways to stay married 43 years and  The Guilt Incentive, as well as adorable pictures of babies, so you should check that out too.


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