Should You Treat Your Marriage Like a Job?

Scott Haltzman, a psychiatrist and Brown University professor, has been studying marriages good and bad for a long time, both in his clinical work and via his Web site, . His new book, "The Secrets of Happily Married Men" collects what he says are the guy behaviors that lead to happy marriage…

Haltzman believes conventional marital therapy often tries to make men more like women — you know, getting in touch with their feelings, talking about their feelings, feeling their wives’ feelings, etc. But this approach is doomed to failure, he says, largely because men and women are equipped with such different hardware from the neck up…

Use the male habits and male skills that serve him well at work, at play, in competition, in the field and in other venues where he thrives. View marriage as your most important task, Haltzman urges men, and pursue success as you would anything else that matters. The assumption is it’s a lot more pleasant, and the payoffs far greater, to live with a woman who is satisfied, secure and feeling loved compared to one who is none of the above. Make this your job, he says.

Here is the full article, noting that some of the specific recommendations ("gather data" on your wife) are excessively mechanical. 

The key question: if a man at times undervalues a happy marriage and happy wife, how can he act to undercut or avoid this weakness of character?  If you think male infidelity is the main potential problem, "taking pride in your instrumental rationality" is not going to do the trick.  Alternatively, you might think that male emotional withdrawal is the main problem, in which case instrumental rationality, and subsequent attention, might be an acceptable (partial) substitute for many women.

Under another scenario, the problem is that men stop trying because they feel their wives expect too much.  If you are damned anyway, at the margin why bother?  This book is useful for telling men their efforts can matter, even if they can’t.  The very act of trying confers a positive externality upon your wife.

The recommendations of this book assume that you screw up the means-ends relationship with your wife, rather than undervaluing the end of a happy marriage (or overvaluing some other competing end).  Misesians, Beckerians, and other partisans of rational economic man shouldn’t bite.  Behavioral economists, step on board.

Comments are open…and you can buy the book here.


Might be a good idea for guys who don't get it any other way. Maybe they'll finally grow up in the process, including emotionally.

Sorry, there was a typo in my previous comment. Correction:

"There must be a boss and a subordinate to make a job-style relationship."

"Use the male habits and male skills..." is exactly correct. Your wife is your favorite play thing. And I don't mean just sexually. If she wanted to live with a women she would have already. What good is (name something you would lose your wife over) if you can't keep your wife satisfied.
Women are easy to satify. Just don't believe all the BS put out by women and men who want to be women.
Figure out what your wife really desires and make sure she gets it. It's all about her. Use the male habits and male skills.

--Here is the full article, noting that some of the specific recommendations ("gather data" on your wife) are excessively mechanical.

Hand hubby a biz card w/the instructions, "Go to
this location and see the 5 pieces of jewelry
I put aside. Pick 1 for my birthday/Christmas/
just because celebrations."

He can gather that kind of data any time.

it's so much easier that way.

Don't any of you work in a collaborative work environment? I see a distinct difference between "make this your job" and "make her your subordinate/boss"

Making it your job is about switching on the skills and awareness to pursue a defined goal. The author's argument for an alternative to traditional therapy is that men can harness these skills without first generating emotional involvement, and that traditional attempts to access them through emotional involvement create confusion and disillusion for husbands.

In essence, the argument is not that men don't feel a responsibility or desire to pursue a happy marriage, but that it's not so directly connected to their emotional state, and that trying to connect the two may lead them to lose sight of the original goal.

A collaborative work environment is one way to look at it. Another:

You're self-employed when you're a husband: no subordinates or superiors to blame when something goes wrong. The buck stops with you.

Daniel Kahneman reports that a massive study of women in Ohio shows
that the only person that they would rather not be around than be alone
is their boss. So, even if men want to turn it into a job, they had
better go with either the cooperative deal or at least pretending that
the wife is the boss deal. BTW, women report preferring to be with
their friends more than either their spouses or their children, with
spouses beating out children. However, making love is the most
preferred activity, with commuting the least.

Robert's got the code. Use it.

Except you forgot, "Of course, dear."

For me, treating my marriage like my job would be disastrous. I wouldn't care, and I'd always be looking to trade up. Makes for a short marriage. Better to treat a marriage as a vocation, a true calling, a passionate endeavor. If it's not in that category, then you shouldn't have taken a life long vow. God forbid I ever treat my wife like my job.

Personally, I love the analogy. However, we should get benefits and a 401k plan...And what about worker's comp?...If we are going to treat marriage like a job; we should also reap the rewards.....The interview process should also be as formal...we need thourough backgraound checks before we say "I DO."

hi i wana marry any women i am 22 pak my e mail is

As to the premise of treating a marriage like a job, it really depends on your definition of a job. If it is connoted to have the pejorative meaning of being something obligatory and perfunctory; then I say no. If on the other hand it is a something that you derive value from, defines you and creates happiness in your life; then I say yes.

The fact is that the new compliment of behaviors that men (including myself) will have to demonstrate in order to make their spouses feel a valuable part of their lives, will only be self-sustaining if that behavior is reinforced. These new behavior, even as small as saying "I Love You" or perhaps taking the time to passionately kiss your wife, will be appreciated and recognized by most women who have sensed an ennui in their life; but it is only when these conscious behaviors are repeated until they become an automatic, and unconscious, part of our relationship fabric that a successful marriage occurs. The message for men is: persevere. The message for women is: encourage and reward. At the end of the day it's all Pavlovian.



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