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Marriage Considered Harmful

A rational boss doesn't do anything just to close off doors; everything else being equal he'll avoid it; he just does what's best for his business.

A rational marriage would have to follow that pattern. Doors would only be closed when there is a compelling reason, such as a way that it helps one's children.

There isn't even a pretense that real life marriages are like this. There isn't explicit analysis of marriages on these lines. It's not how people talk or think about it. They say "don't cheat or you're a lying bastard" rather than using an argument that relates cheating to some material harm. They make each other promise things, and use those promises as bludgeons, without constant references to how this makes for a better family. They even say things like "love isn't rational". And they often use emotional blackmail: "don't do X or I will feel bad."

Not only do people not approach their marriages rationally, they are also generally blind to their own situation. If their boss started arbitrarily restricting them, without giving a compelling business reason, they'd resent it. In marriage they excuse it and do it to their partner. This blindness is best explained as the work of anti-rational memes.

Elliot Temple on September 21, 2008


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