0380 | Spousonomics | Paula Szuchman & Jenny Anderson

0380 | Spousonomics | Paula Szuchman & Jenny Anderson

Context: Finished this off on the bed with Shiraz for company.


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 to demonstrate how it can help to solve issues that couples run into. While some of this may well work for some couples, as I said, I thought some of the application was a bit idealistic. We are after all living, changing beings. Solutions that might work at one point in our marriage, may well cause problems at others.

Even worse, and this is where the book really falls down for me, we’re not rational rule-bound objects like pounds and pence. We’re anything but, especially at a time of conflict in a close relationship like marriage. For all sorts of reasons, we behave in ways that do not make sense economically because, when push comes to shove, it isn’t economy we’re motivated by. And when you’re in the deep end and thrashing to get out, someone explaining the technical theory of breast stroke from the side of the pool is only going to make you feel worse.

What I thought this book lacked was any admission that we are broken beings and always will be. There will always be conflict, within ourselves, with our spouses, with the world in general. The book didn’t seem to say to me, try this and, if it doesn’t work, know that you are in company. That makes sense. I mean, you don’t sell books by admitting that the advice your giving probably won’t work in most cases. But without the empathy such an admission brings, I felt the book was clinical and a bit cold. Dare I say ivory tower?

So, in the end, although it was an interesting idea, I felt that the book was a bit too simplistic. We can all attempt to follow patterns of behaviour that, ideally, will solve everything. In reality though, things don’t usually work out that way. At least that’s my reality. Habits are hard to break and even harder to form. At best I think this book will provide an idea or two for couples to try out and, if it works, good luck to ‘em. At worst, I think this could set some couples up for a fall as they take ideal solutions and apply them to less than ideal realities.


Who should do what?


If you’ve got it, why not use it?

No reason, unless you care about something called “moral hazard”the danger that people with insurance will behave differently – sometimes taking greater risks – from those without it. Look at you, you had no qualms about racking up thousands in doctor’s bill (for a stomach ache that, let’s face it, was never gong to kill you) because it wasn’t your money you were risking.

In contrast, your friend Dina, a freelance art therapist who coincidentally had a mysterious stomach problem but had no insurance, went to a walk-in clinic, was prescribed an endoscopy, found out it would cost her $2,000 and decided to try lemon-ginger tea instead. Dina’s problems didn’t go away immediately, either, but like yours, hers got better with time and a concerted effort to eat better and reduce stress. Total out-of-pocket expenses for Dina? Just $3.50 a week in teabags.


If you look hard enough, there’s usually a Plan C that can resolve any battle of the sexes – whether it’s two vacations a year, sex in the afternoon, or the book you’ve just finished reading.


0380 | Spousonomics | Szuchman & Anderson | 54% | Okay

Key: Legacy | Plot / toPic | Characterisation / faCts | Readability | Achievement | Style Read more about how I come up with my ratings

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