Can't decide between the opera and a football game? (If needed, replace these bland stereotypes with specifics from your own relationship). Game Theory's got your back.

Imagine the possible outcomes: football together, football alone, opera together, and opera alone. We can show this with the following grid (imagine the guy choosing a column and the lady choosing a row—they accept the outcome that gets two marks):

Now imagine each person has five "preference points" they can distribute among the four outcomes (again: football together, football alone, opera together, opera alone). And imagine if you will, that they strongly prefer to go somewhere together. Imagine she really wants to go to the opera (four to one) while he's only somewhat more attached to football (three versus two). The grid would look like this:

The decision is obvious: if they both vote opera, they earn six total preference points (as opposed to four for football, and none if they split). But what if the guy feels as strongly about football as she does about opera:

Now they're up the creek. It's griiiidlock! Even with the opportunity to collude (argue) they can't reach consensus and they don't want to risk choosing opposites, which would result in no preference points for anyone. What should our "hypothetical" couple do?

Stay tuned. I'll post the answer tomorrow.

Here's another interesting dilemma: To buy my new book Brain Candy or to let your brain gently slip into disrepair, eventually resulting in settling forever onto your couch like a barnacle to watch an ever-repeating version of the movie Beverley Hills Chihuahua. Really, the choice is yours.