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Relationships: Is it all a game?

Ah, marriage. The start of the beginning of the rest of your life with that special someone. It’s something that a lot of people strive for—the perfect wedding day with the perfect spouse. But if that day is nothing but perfect, what comes after?

This article starts off with an almost cynical but undoubtedly true statement: “it’s good to remember that it’s all downhill from here.” A wedding day is not a remedy to every disagreement a couple has had prior; in fact, it might even sprout a whole plethora of frictions. Sometimes, a married couple is going to find themselves locking horns over a particular situation, with neither side willing to back down. Of course, the simplest and most ideal solution is compromise and cooperation, but sadly, in the heat of the moment, it’s a lot easier said than done.

It’s possible to look at a generic spousal disagreement from a Prisoner’s Dilemma-esque standpoint. If both parties agreed to settle their differences and reach a compromise, then there would be a mutual positive payout of an argument solved and the couple happy. If one person decided to concede to the other, they would gain nothing while the other person would get his way (obviously, this isn’t always the case in practice, but for the sake of generality, let’s assume that one would be happy with winning an argument with his or her spouse). Lastly, if both parties refused to give in, neither would benefit, and in fact the relationship would take a blow due to a lack of closure.

In the end, compromise would be seen as the Nash Equilibrium. Both parties would benefit from getting a bit of what they want as well as the satisfaction of pleasing each other. Although the “payout” may not be as high as if one person gave in to the other, winning should not be the goal in a relationship. Although this can be dissected into a “game,” it would be wrong to consider the person you’re married to as an opponent. The idea isn’t to maximize payout just for yourself, but for the couple as a whole. And a relationship where both people grow by cooperating is the best kind of relationship, no?

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