Thursday, May 22, 2008

My evil plan is working

So apparently I am doing all the right things. This article is entitled "Secret to a Happy Marriage: Be annoying". The gist is that some researchers asked people who the most annoying person in their life was. The longer people were married, the more likely they were to answer "my spouse".

Now this reeks of reverse causation (one of the great bugbears of empirical social science). The authors infer from these responses that "annoying your spouse will keep you married longer", when it is just as plausible (and probably more likely that) "being married a long time will make your spouse seem annoying."

When Kirstin and I hit our 50th anniversary in 2051, if I ranked people in my life by the absolute amount of time spent together it will probably look something like this:
1) Kirstin (by a mile)
2) Abby
3) Madeline
4) My mom
5) ESPN (or maybe a little higher)

Anyway - let's say that Kirstin and will have spent 2 waking hours interacting with each other on a daily basis for 50 years, for a total of 36,500 hours of time together. And lets say that Kirstin only annoys me once every 10 hours together. She will have annoyed me 3,650 times by 2051.

In contrast, while I'll have spent lots of time with Abby and Madeline, it won't be close to the time spent with Kirstin. Once they become teenagers and refuse to speak to me, the time will plummet. So let's say I'll have spent only 1 hour interacting with them on a daily basis for 18 years - or 6,570 hours a piece. Now Abby and Madeline have a much higher rate of annoyance, say once every 2 hours (perhaps an underestimate). That means they'll annoy me 3,285 times a piece by 2051.

So even though Kirstin is far less annoying than Abby and Madeline, she will still have annoyed me more times by 2051. It's basically because she is around me so much.

Therefore, if someone asks me in 2051 who has annoyed me most in my life, then it will be Kirstin. But that doesn't mean that Kirstin being annoying kept our marriage together - it's just a function of living a long time.

In short, that's a stupid study.

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