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Spousonomics: Using Economics to Master Love, Marriage, and Dirty Dishes

3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  995 ratings  ·  221 reviews
Are you happy in your marriage—except for those weekly spats over who empties the dishwasher more often? Not a single complaint—unless you count the fact that you haven’t had sex since the Bush administration? Prepared to be there in sickness and in health—so long as it doesn’t mean compromising? Be honest: Ever lay awake thinking how much more fun married life used to be? ...more
Hardcover, First, 335 pages
Published February 8th 2011 by Random House (first published February 1st 2011)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,446)
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Joel
To review this book (Spousonomics)I have to reference another book I just started reading:

I just picked up Jared Diamond's book "The World Until Yesterday" about traditional societies. Right in the beginning is a striking point - the vast majority of "studies" we read are from societies he calls W.E.I.R.D. (Western Educated Industrialized Rich and Democratic.) Not only that, but even more specifically tons come from studying kids in Psychology majors.

The problem with this is that there are lots
...more
Michelle
Saw this on a friend's to-read shelf, then it jumped out at me at my next library visit. I couldn't resist picking it up, I love the books applying economics to real life. Mostly, I liked this one.
The economics is pretty basic. No real novel stuff here. Relies on quite a bit of game theory, and even some not-so-reliable economics. Why on earth anyone would want to put Keynes in a book on marriage is beyond me, and if I were writing a book on economics he'd just be in the endnotes. :-) So this is
...more
Ann Carpenter
I'm not finished yet, but I wanted to put down my thoughts while my baby is sleeping(!) and I have the time. So far the book is interesting enough for me to keep reading it, but also a fairly large disappointment. The tone is a little too...smug?...shallow?...glib? Something annoying anyway. I like popular science books and appreciate that they are qualitatively different from more hardcore science works, but at the same time, I sometimes felt like the anecdotal case studies were only a step or ...more
Natalie
Read the "It's Not You, It's the Dishes" edition of this book. Usually I eschew self-helpy relationship books as I despise with a great and searing passion the whole notion of Mars vs Venus BS. (I view evolutionary psychology with a great deal of skepticism peppered with contempt for the MASSIVELY overreaching theories that seem to keep spinning out of that field.) THIS book however does not presume that your chromosomal distribution dictates anything other the occasional need for Midol or a joc ...more
Arukiyomi
0380 | Spousonomics | Paula Szuchman & Jenny Anderson
Context: Finished this off on the bed with Shiraz for company.

Review:

Get two women together. One wants to write a book about economics and the other a book about marriage. The result is this curious arrangement. While it does contain some good tips here and there, I felt overall that some of the advice was a bit idealistic.

Each chapter is focussed on a different aspect of economic theory (bit yawny) and, using well-illustrated real-life example of marital issues, they then apply this theory t

...more
Katherine
This could have been a really interesting, useful, and informative book in the hands of someone like Jonah Lehrer, but sadly it was written with a really annoyingly cutesy wink wink tone, like lots of "oh look how clever we are for learning are this gosh darn difficult economics terms!!" Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but I felt like somewhere along the way, either the writers or their editors or whatnot thought, "economics = math and women are scared of math, yet we expect this to be mostl ...more
Jamie Kline
My opinion: Usually I don't read books on marriage help, thinking I've got everything all figured out. I admit now I was wrong; thanks to this book, I have learned a lot of tips and tricks to make my marriage better. The authors use common terms and concepts normally used in economics and apply it to marriage. Better yet, they throw in case studies of couples that used these approaches with great results. It helped to cement the fact that although some of these ideas seem small, they can have a ...more
Deah
I enjoyed this book. If you're a little bit math-nerdy, but also interested in figuring out this whole "marriage thing", it's a good read.
Jessica
This was funny and thought-provoking and addictive. I enjoyed that nearly all the couples were introduced with the stories of how they met, so it's not just unrelenting tales of woe and economic theory. Instead, it's, "This is what these people were like when they were adorable and newly in love...and this is how it all went awry...and this is how economics saved the day!"

I can't tell you yet whether the book is going to have any impact on my own marriage, but it was at least fun food for though
...more
Abhimanyu Madiraju
Great examples. Guess their exhaustive, groundbreaking, very expensive marriage survey paid off. Learned more about economics than I ever did in school. As I'm not married yet, I've started applying these principles in other relationships and found great results. It's just a matter of finding what we need and substituting sex for that.

For example, if the cost of writing a paper (which summarizes all of his research work) with me is smaller than training all of his staff, my professor can spend
...more
Jenna
Altogether, a very informational and relate-able book. It highlights a lot of important aspects of marriage that are points of contention, and it tells us how we can bring in economics to fix them. The only thing I did not like about it was that there was a lot more numbers and economics facts in it than actual relationship facts and studies. It got confusing at times with its statistics, but I definitely enjoyed Spousonomics and will definitely recommend to other couples.
Adam
I understand that a pop econ book is going to be a little soft, but still: yeesh. If you are familiar with the fact that "economics" is a word that exists and means something, you have a more advanced understanding of econ than this book gives you credit for.

Also, it's super obvious that their exhaustive "research" consisted of calling their rich New York friends and virtually nobody else. Every anecdote begins with something like "Sally is the CEO of multiple Fortune 500 companies. Her husband,
...more
Elise
It's rare that a book manages to cover two seemingly different genres so seamlessly and make it eminently understandable. This book does this in spades. I so enjoyed this book and I think everyone in a committed relationship should read it because I guarantee that everyone at some time has encountered the problems they outline and then solve using economics.
Lisa
I liked this book, but I was hoping for more Jedi mind tricks to make me either stop caring about the division of labor in the house or (even better) to trick my husband into noticing, caring about, and fixing messes. On the positive side, it made me realize that my situation isn't all that bad.
Jenny Taylor
The marriage advice presented in the book was largely the same as advice I have read in other marriage books. I did like the way it was presented in terms of economic theory. The most negative aspect of the book for me was that the authors seemed overly focused on sex (and having more of it) as if that is the underlying goal of marriage.

In response to others' comments:

Some have commented that economic theory presented in the book may be flawed or outdated. Not being an economist, I cannot commen
...more
Jozef Kuric
Paula a Jenny celé desaťročia pracovali pre Wall Street Journal a New York Times, teda v redakciách, v ktorých bol priestor presiaknutý makroekonómiou a burzovými indexmi, no napriek tomu sa chceli venovať aj praktickejšej forme ekonómie. Preto po množstve analýz rôznych ekonomických škôl a konzultáciách s renomovanými ekonómami, sa jednoducho zamerali na lásku a vzťahy. Nechali si vypracovať celoamerický manželský výskum a absolvovali množstvo osobných stretnutí s manželskými pármi, po ktorých ...more
Rena
Mar 19, 2011 Rena marked it as to-read
I won this book from First Reads Giveaway. Waiting to read it when I receive it. Thanks.
Michelle
This book has the potential to be really great but I felt that the authors tried too hard to make it a girly-cute-get-a-glass-of-wine-and-gab-with-your-friends kind of book. I really did like the premise though and if more people looked at their marriages as more of a business arrangement than perhaps more marriages would actually work out ... There always has to be give and take and breaking down these situations made the material more accessible.

I enjoyed the beginning of the book a lot more t
...more
Andrew
An interesting book that uses economic theory to explain marital issues and suggest strategies for dealing with conflict between partners. It is NOT at all like “Freakonomics”, the book by Leavitt and Dubner, which deals with unanticipated results of policies. It is much more like a traditional marriage counseling book, with science behind it.

It probably wouldn’t have saved any of the marriages that we’ve seen self-destruct around us over the decades, but then the authors contend their marriages
...more
Colin Bendell
A novel exploration of relationships and economics. While not a deep scholarly paper, it was an amusing read. If I were to teach an economics 101 class I would use this book because it introduces economic theories in ways that are very accessible using relationships as the example.

The ideas presented are not going to make or break your relationship. It will, however, help you understand how you act better by framing the context in terms of economic theories such as sunk cost, game theory and ave
...more
Girls Gone Reading
True, Spousonomics is about economics, and it is about improving the problems in your marriage. Two topics that are usually so serious that they aren’t funny. But, Spousonomics is funny, and it helped me ask some questions I probably should have asked a decade ago.

Spousonomics uses economic principles to deal with typical marriage problems, and truthfully I was expecting something more like Freakonomics for marriages. Instead, Spousonomics uses economic ideas to tackle your daily issues: dishes,
...more
Megan
I really liked this book. Mixing economics with mariage doesn't seem right but as I read it, it just seemed so logical. I've never been able to wrap my mind around any economic concept other than the Lafer curve and supply & demand. But this book made economic principles seem so intuitive.

It's such a pragmatic approach to marital issues. Who is going to do the dishes? Why won't my husband put his dirty clothes in the hamper and how do I get him to do it? This doesn't give you manipulation te
...more
Carin
The brilliant thing about this book is that it is hilarious. From the Exhaustive, Ground-Breaking, and Very Expensive Marriage Survey to lines like this: "Molly punished Tim, an incentive we don't recommend lightly but one we do recommend sometimes, like when your spouse is being an annoying dipshit," this book uses humor to make economics accessible and relatable. Each chapter tackles an economic theory such as incentives, trade-offs, or moral hazard, using three concrete examples from the Exha ...more
Tia
The premise of this book is that a marriage is essentially an economic endeavor--a small business, if you will--and as such all those niggling domestic disputes can be ironed out by applying economic principles and solutions to the question of who will scrub the toilet. The section on comparative advantage provides sensible ways to divvy up household duties while saving everyone time. But most of the chapters use prettied up, technical words to give what is essentially old-fashioned advice your ...more
Stef
Forget about self help books that promise you a happier marriage in 300 pages. Forget about shrinks that tell you to talk it out. Forget about your in-laws who give you age old advice that just doesnt work anymore.

Im not trying to put those methods down, but simply present to you a new way to look at marriage and deal with the problems that come with it. The authors, Paula Szuchman and Jenny Anderson, bring forth an innovative idea by drawing a parallel between marriage and economics. They go th
...more
Blair Conrad
Very entertaining and possibly useful discussion of how certain economic principles can be applied to help maintain, improve, or maybe even save a marriage.
Mostly covers how couples can deal with "small, ordinary problems" as some other reviewers have noted - how to divide up household chores, schedule sex, and manage competing schedules. So, if you're looking for help with a cheating spouse, a looming foreclosure, or the inability to conceive or something, go elsewhere.
Still, what is here is re
...more
Jonathan Karmel
I was already familiar with most of the economics concepts in this book, but it was still interesting to read how the authors applied them to the dynamics of marriage. It might be possible to use these principles of economics to improve a marriage relationship, but both partners would have to be willing to think about the relationship in this way. I suspect that in some cases the tension in the marriage is the fact that one partner has the utilitarian mindset reflected in this book, while the ot ...more
Eva
A cute, quick read. It's fun to think about not-quite-economic topics in economic terms, although I wouldn't say I learned much of anything. Some kindle quotes:

Marriage, as the economists Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers put it, began to shift from “a forum for shared production to shared consumption.” - location 328

Could she please get rid of that white flapper dress with the holes in the front that she wore every morning when she took their dog, Bailey, for a walk? For more than two decades
...more
Steve
I was expecting goods things from this book, and it delivered. Yes, it's kind of wonky, and it will definitely increase your nerd score at least ten points, but it's full of genuinely useful information. I've always been a fan of Behavioral Economics (see Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions and Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking), and a lot of what was in here wasn't exactly new to me, but the idea of applying it to marriage, was. And the authors do a gr ...more
Philitsa
I'm not sure what I was hoping to get out of this book as I'm pretty satisfied with the division of labor in my house. I think the title pulled me in. I totally judged a book by its cover!

Here's the gist: To have a happy marriage, assign household chores and duties to the spouse that does it faster so that you can spend more time together, even if the person that's better at the task absolutely despises the work.

I'm not sold on that theory. Who cares if you can spend more time together if what
...more
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It's Not You, It's the Dishes (Originally Published as Spousonomics): How to Minimize Conflict and Maximize Happiness in Your Relationship

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