Folding the Laundry and Other Ways Spousonomics Can Help Your Marriage

Just last month Amy Chua became insta-famous (and rocketed her book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother to the top of the bestseller list) by roaring about how demanding perfection from your kids -- and in some cases, humiliating them -- is what parents must do to ensure their children’s success. This month’s self-help tome, Spousonomics, suggests that -- get this -- if we’d just argue less, do the dishes and give our husbands more sex, we might just have happier marriages.

What sets the two books apart in my opinion is that Spousonomics pretty much nailed it. Authors Paula Szuchman and Jenny Anderson, journalists from The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, respectively, propose treating your marital union the same way you’d treat any other business: As an operation that can only succeed if its limited resources are effectively allocated.

The authors use otherwise snore-inducing economic theories (just being honest) to illuminate the path to wedded bliss. For example: I shouldn’t get pissed that I’m the one always doing the laundry (even though 90 percent of it is my husband’s and I work full-time too and would it kill him to lift the hamper lid instead of putting his smelly socks on top of it?) because I’m faster, more efficient and let’s face it, better at the job than he is. Period. (Conversely, there's probably a task that he's better at than you are, and should aways do. Like plunging clogged toilets.) It’s simple division-of-labor, which I wholeheartedly support because I’d rather hand-wash 3,495 stinky socks than get within a hectometer of the lawn mower.

Then there’s the idea of using incentives, otherwise known as “getting what you want,” a technique I proudly admit to employing frequently. For example, I'd never ask my husband, “Can I go away with my girlfriends next weekend?” Instead, I say, “What am I going to have to do for you to score a three-day hall pass?” Sure, the cost of securing this benefit usually involves sex -- and lots of it -- which brings us to:

Guys want sex. Lots of it! And women? Well, let’s just say if sex were water we’d be more likely than men to be called camels. But if couples would look at doing it in terms of basic supply-and-demand, the Spousonomics authors wisely point out, we’d strive to make sex simple, fast and fun (and stop looking for excuses not to do it), which would automatically lower the “cost” of the deed and effectively increase the demand.

Other tips from the book include getting—or staying—fit (basis: if you didn’t exchange vows with a butterball, you probably don’t want to be married to one now—welcome to the “moral hazard” zone), and letting go of your laundry-list-of-complaints every time you’re mad and instead sticking to the single, present offense. (Hence, “Today when you left your stinky socks...” and not “Every bloody miserable day when you leave your stinky socks...”)

What I love most about Spousonomics: The authors are funny, smart and relatable -- and the advice isn’t just designed to make both parties happy, it’s also simple enough to work. Even if your marriage isn’t operating in the (emotional) red, consider this book a great investment.


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