Nothing is scarier to most partners than the thought of losing their spouse. But losing a fight to their spouse — that's an entirely different proposition. "People hate to lose an argument," says Szuchman. "In fact, our research found that the pain of losing is actually twice as intense as the thrill of winning."
Economists call this fear of defeat "loss aversion" and it can be as impactful in the living room as it is in the boardroom. Irrationality takes over, stubbornness sets in and individual pride quickly replaces communal best interest. As Spousonomics reveals, a partner will continue an argument 34% of the time even if he knows he's wrong — or can't remember what the fight was about. And a full 74% will fight on even if they feel "it's a losing battle."
So why the disconnect between conflict and common sense? And how can couples overcome it? Just like a CEO contending with a slumping stock price, Spousonomics advises against making rash decisions. "Sleep on it, take a 'time out' or wait 24 hours" before broaching sensitive subjects, Szuchman suggests. "There's a tendency to do anything to avoid loss," she adds, "but it's a problem when you do so at the expense of your relationship's foundation."
Few couples like to think of their marriage as a business, but treating a relationship like a corporation may actually give it the best chance at long-term success. That’s the message behind Spousonomics (Random House), a new book coming out Feb. 8, by Wall Street Journal editor Paula Szuchman and New York Times education reporter Jenny Anderson.