Happy wife, happy life. Right? Right.
A new study confirms what all women already knew: If we’re happy in our marriages, our men will follow suit.
According to a study out of Rutgers University, published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, women who are happily married improve their husband’s satisfaction with life — regardless of his feelings toward the actual marriage.
Researchers from the New Jersey university looked at the marital quality and overall well-being of 394 couples who had stayed married for an average of 39 years. Spouses were both at least 50 years old — one was at least 60. Both were satisfied generally, but the men reported slighter higher contentment than the women did.
For women who did not say they were happy, you guessed it — their husbands did not say they were too happy in life either. Men who said they had a “very poor” marriage quality reported their life satisfaction was a 1.8 out of 6, while men said their life satisfaction was 5.4 out of 6 in cases where their women were happy. And for women who rated their union as poor, their overall life happiness was only slightly impacted by their husbands’ perceived marital bliss.
Are our men happy when we are content and simply don’t complain? Not quite, says Deborah Carr, a sociology professor at the university and author of the study. She explained the dynamic to Yahoo Health.
“If a wife is happy in her marriage, she will try hard to create a positive experience for her husband,” Carr said. “So perhaps she listens to him more, she offers him more emotional support, or maybe she offers him more help with daily activities.
“All of those things might make a husband happier in general, even if it doesn’t affect his views of the marriage,” Carr said.
According to Carr, women who are unhappy in their marriages often voice it to their husbands in an effort to improve the situation (or perhaps simply to vent). A disconnected husband, on the other hand, is more likely to “sit and seethe silently.” Carr said that in that case, the man’s misery doesn’t make much of an impact on the wife.
What could happen if younger couples are studied? Carr said the findings could be the same. The younger generation — both male and female — are more likely to talk about their feelings.
A study last year found that women have happier, longer marriages when they can regain their composure after a heated argument.
“When wives discuss problems and suggest solutions, it helps couples deal with conflicts,” said Robert Levenson, a psychologist from the University of California, Berkeley. “Ironically, this may not work so well for husbands [whose] wives often criticize for leaping into problem-solving mode too quickly.”