apparently, happiness is up to you, wives.

This sounds like a study that points to women being in the driver’s seat in marriage by “reacting” well to conflicts they’re having with a husband. I’m not sure if it reflects internalized stereotypes in women, or if it reflects the importance of communication skills and emotion-processing in women.

Both, I imagine. But the study makes me bristle, just a bit.

Results show that the link between the wives’ ability to control emotions and higher marital satisfaction was most evident when women used “constructive communication” to temper disagreements….

When wives discuss problems and suggest solutions, it helps couples deal with conflicts,” said UC Berkeley psychologist Robert  Levenson, senior author of the study. “Ironically, this may not work so well for husbands, who wives often criticize for leaping into problem-solving mode too quickly.”

This finding deserves more attention:

…the husbands’ emotional regulation had little or no bearing on long-term marital satisfaction.

And, of the 80 middle-aged and older heterosexual couples’ interactions that were examined, were all those marriages “happy” in the first place? (Who were they, and why did they agree to have their disagreements videotaped?)

I need to read this study in full.. comes out in the journal Emotion, and its November issue is not yet online.

Wives matter more when it comes to calming down marital conflicts.

4 thoughts on “apparently, happiness is up to you, wives.

  1. I have not seen the study either, but my real world experience is that the financially dependent spouse is more or less the keeper of the relationship, and the person who is best equipped to deal with areas of disagreement. That has historically been the wife, but it is not always so today.

    1. Excellent point Mark! Best equipped, and with the greater interest in harmony, unfortunately, especially if the spouse’s earning power, regardless of marriage, is low. Historically, women have had less earning power… not absolutely the case anymore, which is why I’m very glad the researchers acknowledge the likelihood of a generational difference.

      1. Yes. My guess is that the differences are more rooted in the given situation than in gender. In our marriage, I find myself doing the vast majority of the “we” thinking and talking, which I attribute to the fact that my wife is busy in her job while I have a lot more time and incentive to think about the togetherness issues.

  2. In any given situation, I’m much more interested in preserving harmony than in “winning” or “making points” in the dispute.

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