Marriage As A Team.

With the advances of no-fault divorce, women usually being secondary or non-earners, staggered alimony and the assumption of female primary caregiving, it makes sense that a lot of men aren’t really all that interested in marriage. From a purely economic perspective, even if the stats actually show your risk of divorce is well under 50%, there’s still a risk. How many people would put their head into a tame lion’s mouth? It’s still a lion.

However, curiously, women have started to question marriage. At least during the years when we are likely to have a more successful marriage, which is 25-35. Which is odd, considering that we risk very little in marrying and stand to gain so much from either a lifelong marriage or divorce. From a purely objective standpoint, women should at least be ambivalent for men’s sake, at worst be callous supporters. But, as a population, we’re not.

The social demonization of marriage that started in the 60s and 70s is catching up with us. The angry, bitter radicals who called marriage slavery out of one corner of their mouths whilst stalking a man across the globe have finally persuaded most of Western society, men and women alike, that marriage is an evil institution. And they have done so by making it a zero-sum-game.

The basic concept of a zero-sum-game is: someone always wins, someone always loses. In the context of partnerships: one of you will be better off than when you were single and one of you will be worse off than when you were single. And the idea that marriage or long term partnerships are zero-sum-games has infiltrated every corner of our society. Feminists will claim that marriage is anywhere from manipulation to slavery for women, so they must seek to control their relationships carefully. PUAs will claim that marriage and long term relationships are shackles to the minds of men who do not dominate their relationships. Your Joe and Joan Average will work their very hardest to evenly split all their work, incomes, chores and time, so as to guarantee a balance. Everyone is convinced that if you aren’t getting more out than your partner, you’d be better off single.

Which is very scary, considering it undermines one of the main functions of marriage: to grow with each other. The purpose of marriage is to create a mini-community. Which, in our fairly empty, disconnected, callous world, is highly needed as many of us don’t have a larger community anyway. It’s meant to bond two people, get them working in sync so that they both have more than when they started, so they can look after their elders and have and raise healthy, happy children. That was the entire point of marriage.

Therefore, when we try and treat it as a zero-sum-game, as an individual vs individual competition where when you aren’t doing better than them, you’re losing, we aren’t in a marriage. You may have the certificates, but all you’re doing is coexisting, or, worse even, competing.

Instead, when you’re in a long term relationship of any kind, you should be looking at the relationship as the whole and yourselves as the halves. You are not factories, but production units in a little factory. And you should be working on everything you can to keep the factory (your relationship) functional and profitable for both of you. And this becomes quite a cycle. For example, how Jon and I work together to give ourselves a better life:

  1. Jon works full time so he can afford to rent this house. +space
  2. I care for the house so he doesn’t have to. Meaning the house is more worth having and leaving us more together time. +time
  3. I can cook him far better, healthier meals than he could cook himself in the time he used to have, saving us money on snacks and supplements. +money
  4. Because the house is so big, I can use the spare bedroom as an office to tutor from. I can also grow our own food in the garden. +money
  5. Because I work as a private tutor, I can earn £10-25/h, rather than minimum wage of £6.50/h not including travel and expenses. +money
  6. Because I work from home, I work on my own hours. +time
  7. Which means I also can arrange my work day to take advantage of discounts, offers, reduced price foods. +money
  8. Which means his disposable income hasn’t actually dropped much from when he lived in a single room. +money
  9. Which means the need for overtime is reduced. +time

If we both worked full time, split the chores when we got home and only had that little remainder together, we’d have less money, less free time and eventually not be able to afford the space we live in, the quality of food we eat or the entertainment we use. In short, if we acted as individuals, our quality of life would go down. So basically, by working together, as a unit, viewing time together as our main free time, and our assets as shared rather than split, we have both improved our quality of life. He has a larger home, better food, more time with me, more time for leisure activities, more flexibility with work and more money in the bank at the end of the month than when single. I have a larger home, better work prospects, more time with him, more time for leisure activities and more money in the bank at the end of the month than if I were single. We’re in a relationship and by viewing the relationship as the unit and ourselves as component parts: we both win.

So no, long term relationships aren’t a zero-sum-game where there has to be a loser and if you can’t spot the loser, the loser is you. They are a team game where you both work together and use your assets to protect each other’s assets, multiplying the rewards for your work. They are an investment in a partner that, if well -calculated, will pay you back. If you can’t spot the loser, but you’re richer, happier, with more free time and a generally higher standard of life than before: you’re not a loser, you’re playing the game right.

TTFN and Happy Hunting.

What is your view on long term relationships? How does your relationship or marriage work? What do you feel your personal investment gives back to you as a couple? Do share!

How To… Start a Small eBay “Shop”.

So, Jon and I run an eBay “shop”. We’re not going to say what our name is or what it is we sell, but we use eBay to make a small profit of around £50 a month. We’re currently working on expanding our product range a little, so that may go up, but in principle we run it just to make a small profit on money that would otherwise be idle or accumulating an even smaller interest in the bank. After all, 20-50% return a month beats any interest rate.

So here’s how to start up such a “shop”.

1: Work out what you want to sell. It needs to be a specific category with a lot of variety in it. For example, “pristine antiquarian books on railroads of Britain” would be too select, but “books”, “railroads” and “Britain” may be too broad. You need a category that’s specific enough to have a consumer base, broad enough to sell a variety of products to each customer and to guarantee return customers and “window shoppers” as well as well-known enough to have a large market or niche enough to have a high-paying market. Taking our examples above, a category such as “railroads of Britain”, “books on railroads” or “antiquarian books” would be more profitable than the extremely narrow or extremely broad categories.

2: Learn about what you’re selling. I don’t think, for a project like this, you need to sell what you already know (although it helps). But make sure to get to know what you’re going to sell. Research brands, authors, designers, critics, prices, etc.

3: Find a good, stable, cheap source of your item. If you’re selling antiquarian books, try antiques stores and thrift/charity shops. If you’re selling jewellery, try online stores or pawnbrokers.

4: Number crunch. Work out what profit you want to make. Do you want to double your investment every time? Make £3 for every £2 you spend? Or simply make a profit? Bear in mind postage and packaging costs both for receiving the item (if you buy it online) and for posting it to your customers. Always add 10% of the final sale onto your costs to account for eBay and PayPal fees. So if you want to sell something for £20, add £2 onto your expenses.

5: Set up an eBay account. Make the account a personal account. They can be far easier to manage at first.

6: Don’t sell abroad unless your country has excellent postal fees.

7: Don’t auction anything except maybe to clear any remainder stock.

8: Don’t accept best offers or returns, this will just end up as money out of pocket.

9: Take several photos of the item right before posting it, including inside the box, the address on the box etc. Always track or get proof of postage when you post it.

10: Don’t review a buyer for an item they haven’t reviewed you for. If after 14 days you have no review, feel free to leave one. This minimizes buyers trying their luck.

11: Don’t let your “shop” sit idle. Make sure there’s always something on sale.

12: When things don’t sell, either try selling them as a bundle and knocking off some of the postage costs or sell them so you break even. If the situation looks very dire, consider selling so that you make a small loss. An unsold item is always a loss.

 

And there’s the basics on starting and running your own small shop on eBay.