'Spousonomics' Makes Love Out of Chores

Jennifer Cullen

SpousonomicsSpousonomics, a new book by Paula Szuchman and Jenny Anderson, applies the basic principles of economics to having a happier marriage. The two women, journalists, wives, and moms view a marriage as its own little economy with a “finite number of resources that need to be allocated efficiently.”

From division of labor to incentives to supply and demand, all that college economics started flooding back into my post-collegiate brain. Whew, I almost fainted. But the more I read, the more sense their hypotheses made.

For example, let's look at the idea of division of labor. The authors say this concept should lead us to split up the tasks in our domestic lives according to what each spouse is good at, relative to other tasks. Spouses shouldn't be so focused on making sure that all tasks are divided up evenly.

Take how the division of labor works in my house:

I work part-time and my husband works up to 50 hours per week. So, I’m in charge of the kids (mine from my first marriage), the house cleaning, laundry, emptying the dishwasher, and basically just dealing with what goes on at home. Which means I'm almost always doing something, including moving his extremely filthy socks from the floor of the den into the laundry room. But like it or not, that’s my job.

I could go out and get a job where I work 50 hours a week and he could stay home. He might even like it. But I wouldn’t. So I pick up the dirty socks, chauffeur the kids around, and clean up the kitchen. And smile when he gets home from a long day.

Another division of labor? My husband deals with anything that has to do with our cars. I don’t speak the language of cars and I always felt like service people could see me coming from a mile away. Before we were married, it would cost me a couple hundred bucks to just walk into a place to get my car serviced. Not anymore.

On the flip side? I’m in charge of our network of home computers: clearing up viruses, fixing the wireless, downloading software, and teaching the kids to be technologically savvy.

But my favorite division of labor in my house? Cooking. I don’t like to do it. I’m not good at it. And he is. More than good. Fabulous. It’s what he does for a living. The division of labor? I clean up after him. And the man uses almost all of the dishes in the kitchen. It’s not just washing a pot and pan and calling it a day. But it works for us. I eat well. The kids eat well. And after cooking up a storm, he gets to go sit on the couch and put his feet up.

I think Szuchman and Anderson are on to something in their book. The next chapter I'm going to read is titled "Supply and Demand: Or, How to Have More Sex." I can't wait.

How do you practice division of labor in your house?

Image via Amazon

Read More