Thursday, November 1, 2012

Happy Wife, Happy Life

Over at Marginal Revolution there is a brief but semi-formal discussion of game theory in marriages.

The bottom line, that I agree with, is that since marriage is a very long term game ('game' does not imply trivial--game theory covers thermonuclear war, too), the best move for each player (me, my wife) is to choose the option that maximizes total happiness, and assume that inequality will even out in the long run.

From the article
My own approach is to think of the Coase theorem. Assume that you can’t redistribute happiness or wealth within the marriage. If your spouse is unhappy you will be unhappy and if your spouse is happy you are likely to be happy; happy wife, happy life. If you can’t redistribute happiness the play to make is to maximize total happiness. Maximizing total happiness means accepting apparent reductions in happiness when those result in even larger increases in happiness for your spouse. If you maximize the total, however, there will be more to go around and the reductions will usually be temporary.

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