Friday, November 11, 2011

What Larry David Has Figured Out about Marriage…

NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 30:  (L-R) Chairman and C...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Ok, if you are a fan of Curb Your Enthusiasm, you’ll get this.

If not, feel free to come back tomorrow.

Husbands have two choices.

They can devote a huge amount of effort in overcoming their natural desire to be selfish and do whatever they want and constantly think/ask themselves “what can I do to be a helpful husband?”

Let’s call that Strategy A.

On the other hand, they can basically commit to a life of achieving the bare minimums at a low level of expectation.

Let’s call that Strategy B.

Strategy A, of course, is popular and politically correct, but I wonder if, from a Game Theory perspective, it actually yields the optimal output?

It depends, naturally, on how much effort the husband puts out and how satisfied the customer (the wife) is.

Note: It’s important to mention at this point that marriage is similar to marketing (satisfy the customer), but not entirely.

The marketplace is different.

While a husband is not entirely a monopoly provider (and vice versa), there are a lot of “switching costs” and “negative externalities” in changing providers, so it’s not a “highly competitive” marketplace.

In Strategy A, you are 100% guaranteed that, at some point, your wife will be upset with you for some missed moment of sensitivity. I am sorry, but there is no husband on the planet who has a 100% track record.

Now, over time, they may decrease, but you’re still left with a gap.

On the other hand, if you go with Strategy B (especially if you start early), you lower expectations dramatically. There’s some short-term discomfort, but like diet and exercise, it’s worth it in the long run.

Anything you do can’t disappoint, because expectations are so low that, even the slightest positive gesture is a huge victory, thus resulting in a favorable outcome.

What Larry David does, by being such a jerk, is essentially say to his wife (maybe that’s why he’s on his 2nd wife? He went with Strategy A on the first one?) “You can expect nothing supportive or sensitive from me.”

It’s all upside from there.

Of course there are those guys who are the statistical anomalies and would feel intrinsically motivated to help around the house, etc., so we’re only talking in broad generalizations here.

blog comments powered by Disqus
View Comments