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Economics Saved My Marriage: How a Nobel laureate got me to stop nagging my husband.

There are alternative approaches to resolving marital spats other than therapy. One couple used principles from economics and psychology to improve their marriage:

50/50 isn’t the best way to divide housework. We want an egalitarian marriage (and anything else would betray the feminist principles my mother taught me). But Adam Smith famously noted that efficiency is maximized when workers specialize. Today, I gladly pay all the bills, and my husband—mostly gladly—does all the sweeping and mopping. 

The concept that’s had the most profound impact is loss aversion. Behavioral economists have shown that we hate to lose twice as much as we love to win, and when we sense we’re losing, we get irrational. Loss aversion has been partly blamed for Lehman Brothers’ failure to admit its losses early enough to save the company. 

I’m vehemently averse to losing. But now I try to be aware of when I cross into loss-aversion mode during disagreements. Then I call a time-out. Sometimes that means going against the advice everyone gave me before I got married: never go to bed angry. 

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