How Marriage Helps You Get Your Drinks Faster


My wife and I file into a tent for a wedding reception. On one side is the guest book, on the other is the bar offering the initial refreshments.

We want to sign the guest book, but more important is getting glasses of wine soon and not getting caught in a large line. Almost instinctively after 42 years of marriage, my wife and I know our comparative and absolute advantages. Her handwriting is good and mine is dreadful. My arms are longer than hers.

She makes an immediate beeline to sign the guest book, and I head straight for the bar, having ascertained what she wants to drink. Very shortly she has signed the book and I have two glasses of merlot. The efficiency gains from marriage are well known. It’s also true that for most couples they grow over time.

Y. Bother

Why bother signing the guestbook at a wedding? The couple sure isn't going to fight over it when they get divorced and they might look at it, while they are married, exactly zero times.

Nadaav Zohar

True, being able to get your drinks faster may be possible in a marriage, but I don't think it always, or even often, works out this way. In a marriage, for example, there may be pressure on you to stay by your wife so that you can be "seen" together in social gatherings such as wedding receptions. Or, if your wife is in a bossy or irrational mood (my girlfriend frequently finds reason to be of foul temperament when we are out in public together) and doesn't feel like playing "tricks"--she just wants to stand in line and not go against the grain--that will put a quick end to your comparative advantage exercise.

On the other hand, when you're just with your buddies, you can still reap all of the advantages while minimizing the costs. Your friend can probably approximate a greeting from you in the guestbook--perhaps even one with more humor and readability--and in my experience is likely to be more forgiving about a bungled drink order (it needn't be a symptom of how "the two of you are growing apart" or how "you just don't seem to care anymore", either of which could otherwise likely be the topic of a lecture on the ride home).

It reminds me of a study I read about at U of M where they found that divorce is, in a way, bad for the environment because it means two fridges, two stoves, two heating bills, etc. A more precise conclusion would have been that ANY group of potential cohabitants not cohabiting is bad for the environment, implying that nobody should ever live by themselves if the environment is to be considered.

Marriage, it seems, is perhaps a bit too hastily pointed to as the only, or most ideal, arrangement.



Any perception of efficiency gains from marriage are easily swamped by the persistence of additional, nagging, requests for additional tasks that would have otherwise been avoided (aka honeydos).


You could always both wait to sign the guestbook until you have a drink in hand or until some other convenient time. Do you also bowl over friends wanting to greet you to get your drink faster?


Your argument actually supports merely hitting the bar first, rather than cooperative specialization. Once you're holding a pair of merlots, you don't mind waiting in line to sign the guest book.


Gotta agree with Y, but for different reasons:

Go to two different bars. Watch each other to see who gets to order first.

Then go back and sign the guest book later, both with wine in hand.

Wine must happen ASAP.

Guest Book only has to happen before the party is over.


marriage is classic division of labour


My wife and I look out guest signatures all the time actually Y. Bother. Granted it's not so much a guestbook as it was a frame they could sign which now has a picture in it and hangs on a wall, but still we go through a lot of our other wedding stuff (pictures mostly) why not the guest book?

That said, I do wonder why anyone would need to sign the guestbook immediately. It's not like we removed it the second the reception started. Unless you just feel like you have to get it out of the way (cause you don't want to have to remember to do it), it'll still be there after you have a few drinks and the crowd dies down.

But whatever, we're nitpicking a fine display of marital teamwork and efficiency. Kudos.


Sounds like a lot of people have bad marriages when the negatives are outweighing the positives.

Another efficiency positive is that you get to try roughly twice the amount of foods than you would if you were single. At every eatery, there are at least two things that sound goof to both my girlfriend and I, so we get both and split them. My life is more delicious because of it.


I'm confused.

By the title of this, it seems like there's going to be some interesting story on how being married helps you get your drinks faster than someone who is not.

However, after reading the story, I'm not clear as to why a social bond between two people is supposed to alter the time it takes for an individual to get a drink at a bar. Looks like someone single with enough wedding reception experience and who values EtOH as much as you do would have just as easy of a time getting to the bar as you did.


I'm guessing from the post, although I might be wrong, is that this exchange happened quickly and nearly wordlessly. There is also an efficiency advantage of knowing what your wife likes to drink. Before we were married, my husband would ask me what I wanted, sometimes he would come back to tell me they didn't have it and take a different order, and then finally bring me a drink.


To judge by the comments, it seems the real lesson is that a well-coordinated team works better than a lone person, but a lone person works better than a dysfunctional team.

Or, more simply: a good marriage is a bonus, but being single is preferable to a mediocre or bad marriage.

I can't help think that anyone who doesn't know that already is in deep trouble.


Hahaha, I completely understand the article, but what made me laugh is how my girlfriend and I always take the exact opposite approach, regardless of the situation. As 20-somethings, our drink orders are usually taken at overcrowded bars. In this case, ALWAYS send in the woman!!! 10 times out of 10 she comes back with the drinks faster than I ever could, and every now and again the drinks come free.


Marriage, or any functional partnership, also works well with the food lines at weddings. Occasionally at weddings they have food at different stations, my husband and I will split up knowing the foods that the other likes and dislikes. Then we meet back up with not two, but four plates of food.

It also works well with the food you aren't so sure about. Recently at a wedding I grabbed a mysterious dip. I hated it, but my husband liked it. He had another dip on his plate that he didn't like, but I enjoyed it. Thus helping the environment by not wasting food.


@Alex -

That is pretty funny. My life is just the opposite. My wife is so picky, that I can't really take her anywhere, so the food that I get to try is limited to Applebee's and other trash.


send in the wife...

when we had to get a car through inspection my husband sent me in. This was in germany: tough TüV. I got the old thing through with no trouble. i also got a container out of a terminal with little trouble from the longshoremen in my younger days. I also was the designated driver if we ever went out to social events. He would have been able to drink both glasses, as I don't really don't drink that much.

Oh well, it was great while it lasted for more than twenty years. He's found a new partner, and well, then there's is me.

someday somebody is going to ask me why I'm single again?

Anonymous Coward

Typical viewpoint of an economist.

From a sociological viewpoint, if the couple are so efficient at signing the guest book and getting drunk; I have little doubt they prefer to be somewhere else quick.

Then again, if they have kids. Perhaps both of them will just head straight to the bar. Hmm... bugger than. It just makes sense to head straight for the bar ^_^

Hilda CMS

This is a great example of absolute and comparative advantage in the daily life. It shows that tasks are just as effective but less time consuming than if there wasn't this division of labor. The "team," however, must be coordinated and well informed in order for this to happen.


after 27 years together:
-any task requiring the word, "NO" is for me to take on.
-any task requiring the words, " let's negotiate" is for my husband.


I watch "The Amazing Race" and you can really see the difference in how couple work together...or don't. They have the restriction of having to remain within a few feet of each other as one of the rules of the race, however. Many long married couple may seem snarky to each other at times, but in fact they have long worked out how they work together, how they fight, etc.

Couples usually settle into social routines, knowing each other's preferences. What amazes me, after 30 years away from my family, is how smoothly I work together with them. I brought my brother on board to help out at our big multi-day walking event. While I don't enjoy him socially (he only talks about car repair), we work together like a well-oiled machine when it comes to loading and unloading supply trucks, organizing the event, etc.

Genetics also plays a role in how well people work together and anticipate each others' decisions.