Spousonomics

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Numbers are sharp corners in a world that I would have be nothing but forgiving curves, which is why I could never have imagined economics as a way to improve sex: the two, in my mind, go together like buttercream and liver (sex is the buttercream, just to be clear). Of the many joys of sex, the one I had not considered until now is that it offers a total absence of the need to do math. The time during which you are having sex is time you never have to add, subtract or, presumably, figure out the appropriate tip.

I was surprised, therefore, to find myself appreciating the take of authors Paula Szuchman and Jenny Anderson in their new book Spousonomics: Using Economics to Master Love, Marriage, and Dirty Dishes (which debuted yesterday). It sounds too cerebral to be sensual but it’s not. The authors use practicality (of all the crazy things) to give love and lust  the room it needs to flourish.

Paula Szuchman writes in The Daily Beast that “low cost” and “high transparency,” – keeping it simple and letting your partner know what you want – are key to keeping sex going and going well in marriage (and, I’ll infer, any long term partnership). Shwartzman says, and quite accurately, that usual rekindle-the-romance advice -– the foot massage, the candles, the dirty weekend– are too exhausting for busy people. They’re high cost, maybe not always in money but definitely in effort. When something costs too much people don’t go for it. By keeping it simple and making your desires clear (transparency) you make sex ‘affordable,’ emotionally and physically.

Szuchman and Anderson interviewed hundreds of couples for Spouseonomics and also have a blog with smart relationship advice about not crowding your partner via email, alternative ways to communicate (i.e. “Love Letters Spousonomics Style” which is such an endearing example of transparency it belongs in a Sandra Bullock movie but it’s real) and making a graph of your activities according to how important they are versus how much time you spend on them (it’s titled Gut Check Your Marriage but I imagine it could be an eye opener for anyone, married or single and plan to try it myself).

I’ve always thought the best relationships were a blend of security and stimulation. Szuchman and Anderson have hit on a good version of this, offering the comfort of looking at domestic situations realistically and the surprise of applying reasonable formulas to matters of home and heart offering the potential for readers to come up with satisfying answers and simple, new approaches to the glitches of modern romance.

I don’t know a thing about economics except for the law of supply and demand. A desire to help kindle or rekindle relationships always seems to be in demand. Good on Szuchman and Anderson for coming up with a fresh supply.

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