Two months ago, I was in the middle of a ridiculous snit about dirty dishes when I landed on this essay in the New York Times.
Jenny Anderson wrote: "I used to take the fairness temperature of my relationship every day. Were we splitting the chores? Were our careers progressing equitably or was I being shortchanged because I relieved the nanny more? If I picked up his socks today, would he expect me to pick them up forever?"
WAS SHE INSIDE MY HEAD?
I immediately wrote to Random House and asked if they would send me a review copy of Spousonomics, the new book Anderson has written with Paula Szuchman.
It's a revelation.
Anderson and Szuchman frame ten different marital dilemmas in economic terms, demonstrating, for example, through the principle of Division of Labor, how it isn't economical for two people in a relationship to divide the household chores down the middle. Instead, if each person does the chores she is most efficient at, everybody benefits.
So. I have faced the fact that I'm a more efficient dish-doer than H.* And I've realized how much stuff he does around the house (gardening, plumbing, endless car + computer maintenance) that I never counted as "housework."
I've also learned (from the Incentives chapter) that if I trust H instead of nagging him, he will actually do the dishes or make dinner or go to the grocery store a lot more often. HALLELUJAH!
If you are engaged or married or IN A RELATIONSHIP, you need to read this book.**
My only complaint is that Anderson and Szuchman try a little too hard to be hip. Or flip? They repeat the phrase "Exhaustive, Groundbreaking, and Very Expensive Marriage Survey" no fewer than thirteen times in the book, which is exhausting.
*Please don't tell him I said that.
**It's not all about dishes, I promise. There's plenty of sex in there too.