(First aired on The Current (03/22/11)
While many Canadians agree that (as Pierre Elliott Trudeau famously put it) "there's no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation," Jenny Anderson and Paula Szuchman argue that the same doesn't hold true for economics.
They're the authors of Spousonomics: Using Economics to Master Love, Marriage, and Dirty Dishes. According to the two New York-based journalists, time is a commodity and must be managed properly — especially when you're juggling a spouse, a job, children, friendships and that hot yoga class once a week.
"[Economics and marriage] seem like very incongruous partners here, but it actually makes a lot of sense," Anderson said in a recent interview on The Current. "Economics is really the study of the allocation of scarce resources, and I think anyone who is married knows that there is nothing more scarce in our lives right now than time and energy."
Anderson, who has spent years as a business reporter for the New York Times, knows economic theory well. But it was Szuchman, an editor for the Wall Street Journal, who brought the idea of this merger to the table after she had a spat with her husband.
While under threat of a marital meltdown, Szuchman's husband developed a graph of their emotional progress, so they could map out how they were feeling about their marriage over a period of time.
It didn't take long for Szuchman to realize that this type of analysis was helping her marriage — and that it could be helpful for other couples in similar circumstances. So she partnered with Anderson to write Spousonomics.
To some, applying factors such as "information processing costs" and "supply and demand theory" to a relationship may seem too calculating. But Anderson contends that it doesn't have to feel that way.
"We know that sounds very unromantic, but the goal is that some mediocre sex is better than no amazing sex. You kind of have to get going and find ways to do it and while that can sound unromantic, once you get going you'll recognize that when you get to the sex, it feels perfectly romantic."
Anderson and Szuchman aren't asking couples to become overly analytical, of course.
"What we're asking people to do is think more strategically and constructively about what they're doing and how they are doing it and how to divide it up, rather than defaulting to what they've always done and then being angry at each other all of the time."
To hear the full interview, click on the player above.