deciding to divorce

When to Break Up or Divorce? The Economic View

Think Like a Freak

Think Like a Freak

One of the many ways to look at relationships is through the lens of economics, as I did in the posts “Mate-Seeking: The Science of Finding Your Best Partner” and “Marriage Markets” – Marriage Beyond Our Means?”.

Hooking Up Smart has a look at the Freakonomics view on quitting relationships. Worth a read, as is the book Think Like a Freak: The Authors of Freakonomics Offer to Retrain Your Brain. Here’s a condensed list of decision factors:

Three primary forces bias us against quitting:

1. A lifetime of being told that quitting is a sign of failure.

2. The notion of sunk costs. As obvious as it sounds, we fail to recognize that previous investment does not justify future investment. I hear this a lot from readers who are thinking about ending their relationships. It’s most prevalent when a couple’s been together a really long time.

3. The failure to identify opportunity cost. When we’re thinking of getting out of a relationship, we have a strong tendency to say to ourselves, “What if I never find someone else?” Instead, we should be asking ourselves what we’re missing out on. Staying in a bad relationship may mean missing out on a great one.

The Formula for Knowing When to Quit:

Quit when opportunity cost outweighs sunk cost. If OC > SC, then break up. If there’s the real potential for something better out there – a relationship you could happily sustain for 50 years, then what you’ve got invested in your current unsatisfactory relationship is immaterial.

This is not to suggest that you should end a satisfying and rewarding relationship. But if you’re not satisfied in your relationship, there’s a good chance that quitting it will make you happier and open you up to something better.


Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples OrganizationsDeath by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

[From Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations,  available now in Kindle and trade paperback.]

The first review is in: by Elmer T. Jones, author of The Employment Game. Here’s the condensed version; view the entire review here.

Corporate HR Scrambles to Halt Publication of “Death by HR”

Nobody gets a job through HR. The purpose of HR is to protect their parent organization against lawsuits for running afoul of the government’s diversity extortion bureaus. HR kills companies by blanketing industry with onerous gender and race labor compliance rules and forcing companies to hire useless HR staff to process the associated paperwork… a tour de force… carefully explains to CEOs how HR poisons their companies and what steps they may take to marginalize this threat… It is time to turn the tide against this madness, and Death by HR is an important research tool… All CEOs should read this book. If you are a mere worker drone but care about your company, you should forward an anonymous copy to him.

 


More on Divorce, Marriage, and Mateseeking

Marriages Happening Late, Are Good for You
Monogamy and Relationship Failure; “Love Illuminated”
“Millionaire Matchmaker”
More reasons to find a good partner: lower heart disease!
“Princeton Mom” Susan Patton: “Marry Smart” not so smart
“Blue Valentine”
“All the Taken Men are Best” – why women poach married men….
“Marriage Rate Lowest in a Century”
Making Divorce Hard to Strengthen Marriages?
Student Loan Debt: Problems in Divorce
“The Upside of ‘Marrying Down’”
The High Cost of Divorce
Separate Beds Save Marriages?
Marital Discord Linked to Depression
Marriage Contracts: Give People More Legal Options
Older Couples Avoiding Marriage For Financial Reasons
Divorced Men 8 Times as Likely to Commit Suicide as Divorced Women
Vox Charts Millennial Marriage Depression
What’s the Matter with Marriage?
Life Is Unfair! The Great Chain of Dysfunction Ends With You.
Leftover Women: The Chinese Scene
Constant Arguing Can Be Deadly…
“If a fraught relationship significantly shortens your life, are you better off alone?
“Divorce in America: Who Really Wants Out and Why”
View Marriage as a Private Contract?
“It’s up there with ‘Men Are From Mars’ and ‘The Road Less Travelled’”
Free Love, eHarmony, Matchmaking Pseudoscience
Love Songs of the Secure Attachment Type
“The New ‘I Do’”
Unrealistic Expectations: Liberal Arts Woman and Amazon Men
Mark Manson’s “Six Healthy Relationship Habits”
“The Science of Happily Ever After” – Couples Communications
Free Dating Sites: Which Have Attachment Type Screening?
Dating Pool Danger: Harder to Find Good Partners After 30
Mate-Seeking: The Science of Finding Your Best Partner
Perfect Soulmates or Fellow Travelers: Being Happy Depends on Perspective
No Marriage, Please: Cohabiting Taking Over
“Marriage Markets” – Marriage Beyond Our Means?
Rules for Relationships: Realism and Empathy
Limerence vs. Love
The “Fairy Tale” Myth: Both False and Destructive
When to Break Up or Divorce? The Economic View
“Why Are Great Husbands Being Abandoned?”
Divorce and Alimony: State-By-State Reform, Massachusetts Edition
“Sliding” Into Marriage, Small Weddings Associated with Poor Outcomes
Subconscious Positivity Predicts Marriage Success…
Why We Are Attracted to Bad Partners (Who Resemble a Parent)

“If a fraught relationship significantly shortens your life, are you better off alone?”

couple_argues

From The Atlantic, a good read about that Danish study we covered here showing relationship conflict can be surprisingly deadly, comparing it with alternative of social isolation. The study adjusted for all the usual health risk factors but found that even for people who seemed equally healthy, conflict with people near them, especially spouses, greatly increased the risk of death:

“In your everyday life, do you experience conflicts with any of the following people?”

Partner
Children
Other family
Friends
Neighbors

A Danish health survey asked almost 10,000 people between ages 36 and 52 to answer, “always,” “often,” “sometimes,” “seldom,” or “never” for their applicable relationships.

Eleven years later, 422 of them were no longer living. That’s a typical number. What’s compelling, Rikke Lund and her colleagues at University of Copenhagen say, is that the people who answered “always” or “often” in any of these cases were two to three times more likely to be among the dead. (And the deaths were from standard causes: cancer, heart disease, alcohol-related liver disease, etc.—not murder. Were you thinking murder?)

The stress of constant conflict degrades health and eventually kills, it seems. But being isolated was not great, either:

In isolation, most of us wither psychologically and crumble physically. In 1979, a California epidemiological study showed that the risk of death during a given period among people with the fewest social ties was more than twice as high as in those with the most. Some experts have suggested that isolation, perceived or objective, should be commonly considered alongside things like obesity as a serious health hazard. One study found social isolation was as strong of a predictor of mortality as smoking. People with heart disease are 2.4 times more likely to die of it if they are socially isolated. We could go on and on with these decades of pro-social correlations.

So the point here is relationships are like almonds. We know that if you eat almonds, you increase your odds of living longer—unless you hate almonds so much that eating them sends you into a rage, raising your blood pressure, and you eat them every day until at some point the hypertension eventually causes a stroke. Yes, just like almonds. The objective nature of what’s said or done between people converges with our personalities to create perceptions of that relationship, and that’s what matters and (seems to) significantly influence our bodies. “Certain personality traits may promote the reporting of any social relation as stressful,” the researchers write, “and therefore strong correlations between measures of stressful social relations would be expected.”

Men did seem more physically vulnerable to worries and demands from their partner than did women, which is in keeping with a scientific understanding of men’s health as especially relationship-dependent. Men release more cortisol in response to stress than women do, and marriage has proven more beneficial to men’s health than to women’s. And it was Harry Nilsson, not Mariah Carey, who was first moved to popularize Badfinger’s “Without You” in 1971 by really drawing out the emotive i in the line, “I can’t liiive if living is without you.”

Constant Arguing Can Be Deadly…

CoupleFighting600x396

…not just to your relationship, but to the partners! Constant arguments or nagging increases death risk, especially for men.

The study: “Stressful social relations and mortality: a prospective cohort study,” by
Rikke Lund1,2, Ulla Christensen1, Charlotte Juul Nilsson, Margit Kriegbaum, and Naja Hulvej Rod of the
University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

Results: Frequent worries/demands from partner or children were associated with 50–100% increased mortality risk. Frequent conflicts with any type of social relation were associated with 2–3 times increased mortality risk. Interaction between labour force participation and worries/demands (462 additional cases per 100 000 person-years, p=0.05) and conflicts with partner (830 additional cases per 100 000 person-years, p<0.01) was suggested. Being male and experiencing frequent worries/demands from partner produced 135 extra cases per 100 000 person-years, p=0.05 due to interaction.

Conclusions: Stressful social relations are associated with increased mortality risk among middle-aged men and women for a variety of different social roles. Those outside the labour force and men seem especially vulnerable to exposure.

The BBC’s writeup of the study is more readable.

More on Divorce, Marriage, and Mateseeking

Marriages Happening Late, Are Good for You
Monogamy and Relationship Failure; “Love Illuminated”
“Millionaire Matchmaker”
More reasons to find a good partner: lower heart disease!
“Princeton Mom” Susan Patton: “Marry Smart” not so smart
“Blue Valentine”
“All the Taken Men are Best” – why women poach married men….
“Marriage Rate Lowest in a Century”
Making Divorce Hard to Strengthen Marriages?
Student Loan Debt: Problems in Divorce
“The Upside of ‘Marrying Down’”
The High Cost of Divorce
Separate Beds Save Marriages?
Marital Discord Linked to Depression
Marriage Contracts: Give People More Legal Options
Older Couples Avoiding Marriage For Financial Reasons
Divorced Men 8 Times as Likely to Commit Suicide as Divorced Women
Vox Charts Millennial Marriage Depression
What’s the Matter with Marriage?
Life Is Unfair! The Great Chain of Dysfunction Ends With You.
Leftover Women: The Chinese Scene
Constant Arguing Can Be Deadly…
“If a fraught relationship significantly shortens your life, are you better off alone?
“Divorce in America: Who Really Wants Out and Why”
View Marriage as a Private Contract?
“It’s up there with ‘Men Are From Mars’ and ‘The Road Less Travelled’”
Free Love, eHarmony, Matchmaking Pseudoscience
Love Songs of the Secure Attachment Type
“The New ‘I Do’”
Unrealistic Expectations: Liberal Arts Woman and Amazon Men
Mark Manson’s “Six Healthy Relationship Habits”
“The Science of Happily Ever After” – Couples Communications
Free Dating Sites: Which Have Attachment Type Screening?
Dating Pool Danger: Harder to Find Good Partners After 30
Mate-Seeking: The Science of Finding Your Best Partner
Perfect Soulmates or Fellow Travelers: Being Happy Depends on Perspective
No Marriage, Please: Cohabiting Taking Over
“Marriage Markets” – Marriage Beyond Our Means?
Rules for Relationships: Realism and Empathy
Limerence vs. Love
The “Fairy Tale” Myth: Both False and Destructive
When to Break Up or Divorce? The Economic View
“Why Are Great Husbands Being Abandoned?”
Divorce and Alimony: State-By-State Reform, Massachusetts Edition
“Sliding” Into Marriage, Small Weddings Associated with Poor Outcomes
Subconscious Positivity Predicts Marriage Success…
Why We Are Attracted to Bad Partners (Who Resemble a Parent)

What’s the Matter with Marriage?

Couple-bluesteel1561x1203

A festival of links. If you follow these you’ll be exposed to a lot of discussion from a wide variety of perspectives on the current state of mate-seeking and marriage, and a lot of unhappiness about both. Some of the comments are from points of view I have never considered. Much of this is ideological and political wrangling; I think good marriages are very important to a healthy society, but I don’t think it’s a good idea to change laws to somehow “promote marriage.” There are certainly current government policies that have created incentives that make people hesitate before subjecting themselves to a commitment that seems like it might end badly for them, and I’d support identifying and reducing these disincentives where possible. Leave people free to work out their problems and find good solutions; free the economy from some of the excessive regulation that hampers growth and good jobs, so a dynamic economy helps people feel safe enough in their jobs to found new families.

Warning: I don’t endorse any of these, but they are thought-provoking:

Dear Girls Who Are (Finally) Ready To Date Nice Guys: We Don’t Want You Anymore

Dear “Nice Guys” Who Are At the End of Their Rope: You Actually Aren’t That Nice.

Just Say No: For white working-class women, it makes sense to stay single mothers.

Why isn’t Carl good enough?

Men on Strike, by Helen Smith (wife of Glenn Reynolds the Instapundit, who was kind enough to plug Bad Boyfriends on his site) is a provocative look at how boys and young men are being damaged by schools run primarily by women who now view masculine energy as something to be suppressed, and a society that views men as suspect and probably at fault in any issue. It certainly does not help that lower-class young men are devalued and underemployed at a much greater rate than ever before, and so we get Carl from the link above, “Just Say No,” who while father of a woman’s child is seen as a hindrance in her life.

More on Divorce, Marriage, and Mateseeking

Marriages Happening Late, Are Good for You
Monogamy and Relationship Failure; “Love Illuminated”
“Millionaire Matchmaker”
More reasons to find a good partner: lower heart disease!
“Princeton Mom” Susan Patton: “Marry Smart” not so smart
“Blue Valentine”
“All the Taken Men are Best” – why women poach married men….
“Marriage Rate Lowest in a Century”
Making Divorce Hard to Strengthen Marriages?
Student Loan Debt: Problems in Divorce
“The Upside of ‘Marrying Down’”
The High Cost of Divorce
Separate Beds Save Marriages?
Marital Discord Linked to Depression
Marriage Contracts: Give People More Legal Options
Older Couples Avoiding Marriage For Financial Reasons
Divorced Men 8 Times as Likely to Commit Suicide as Divorced Women
Vox Charts Millennial Marriage Depression
What’s the Matter with Marriage?
Life Is Unfair! The Great Chain of Dysfunction Ends With You.
Leftover Women: The Chinese Scene
Constant Arguing Can Be Deadly…
“If a fraught relationship significantly shortens your life, are you better off alone?
“Divorce in America: Who Really Wants Out and Why”
View Marriage as a Private Contract?
“It’s up there with ‘Men Are From Mars’ and ‘The Road Less Travelled’”
Free Love, eHarmony, Matchmaking Pseudoscience
Love Songs of the Secure Attachment Type
“The New ‘I Do’”
Unrealistic Expectations: Liberal Arts Woman and Amazon Men
Mark Manson’s “Six Healthy Relationship Habits”
“The Science of Happily Ever After” – Couples Communications
Free Dating Sites: Which Have Attachment Type Screening?
Dating Pool Danger: Harder to Find Good Partners After 30
Mate-Seeking: The Science of Finding Your Best Partner
Perfect Soulmates or Fellow Travelers: Being Happy Depends on Perspective
No Marriage, Please: Cohabiting Taking Over
“Marriage Markets” – Marriage Beyond Our Means?
Rules for Relationships: Realism and Empathy
Limerence vs. Love
The “Fairy Tale” Myth: Both False and Destructive
When to Break Up or Divorce? The Economic View
“Why Are Great Husbands Being Abandoned?”
Divorce and Alimony: State-By-State Reform, Massachusetts Edition
“Sliding” Into Marriage, Small Weddings Associated with Poor Outcomes
Subconscious Positivity Predicts Marriage Success…
Why We Are Attracted to Bad Partners (Who Resemble a Parent)