Calm down. I can just see the infuriated men at the edge of their seat. Your happiness is just as important as a woman’s, of course. However, when it comes to SUSTAINING and MAINTAINING a healthy marriage studies show that wifey’s happiness is ‘King’, or should I say ‘Queen’.
The Rutgers study shows that the more the wife’s long-term contentment with the relationship, the happier the husband is with his life (no matter how he feels about the marriage).
“I think it comes down to the fact that when a wife is satisfied with the marriage she tends to do a lot more for her husband, which has a positive effect on his life,” said Deborah Carr, a professor in the Department of Sociology, School of Arts and Science.
“Men tend to be less vocal about their relationships and their level of marital unhappiness might not be translated to their wives.”
Carr and Vicki Freedman, research professors at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, co-authored a study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family on marital quality and happiness.
They analyzed data of 394 couples who were part of a national study of income, health and disability in 2009. At least one of the spouses was 60 or older and on average, couples were married for 39 years.
Marital quality was determined by questionnaires that asked things like:
- Does your spouse appreciate you?
- How much does your spouse argue with you?
- Does your spouse understand your feelings?
- Does your spouse sometimes get on your nerves?
Participants were also instructed to keep diaries about how happy they felt the day before doing activities such as shopping, performing household chores and watching TV.
Most of the participants rated their general life satisfaction as high – with husbands rating their marriage slightly more positive than their wives.
“For both spouses being in a better-rated marriage was linked to greater life satisfaction and happiness,” said Carr.
Interestingly enough, the wives became less happy if their spouses became ill – but the husbands’ happiness level didn’t change the same way when their wives got sick.
“We know that when a partner is sick it is the wife that often does the caregiving which can be a stressful experience,” Carr said. “But often when a women gets sick it is not her husband she relies on but her daughter.”
As we all know, a healthy marriage can dramatically increase your overall health and well-being and even increase your longevity.
“The quality of a marriage is important because it provides a buffer against the health-depleting effects of later life stressors and helps couples manage difficult decisions regarding health and medical decision making,” says Carr.
So men, looks like if you want to improve not only your health and well-being, but happiness too – you might want to ask your wife, “Honey, what makes you happy?”