John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Marriage and the Pareto Principle

I first learned about the 80-20 rule while in business school and it is an ingenious formula that apples not just in the workplace but in every area of life —including marriage

With most couples I know each spouse –almost like a rule of nature –believes he or she is to blame for about 20% of the recurring marital disagreements –while their spouse is respon…sible for the other 80%. And vice versa.

Psychologists and marriage experts tell us the key is sharing that burden equally between the spouses. But such advice flies in the face of science and the 80-20 rule .

jyb_musingsMy bold innovative idea to solve this age old imbalance is to include a third partner in every marriage. Not a third party that is actively involved at any level of the day-to-day marriage (from finance to romance) but rather an extra person to lay blame on when the primary couple needs to displace blame.

Just do the math. If each primary spouse is willing to accept 20% of the blame , then having a third person available in the marriage for the remaining 60% is the perfect solution! And during periods of above-average disagreements, the third party has another 40% to be absorbed if necessary.

This allows us to use mathematical and scientific principles to our advantage to manage around the 80-20 rule in both work and play –and even within the sanctity of marriage.

It just adds up.


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