Newly published findings from a 27 year study of married couples highlights differences in the way men and women approach marriage.
Research professor and therapist Dr Terri Orbuch has followed the lives of 746 study participants since 1986, when all were newly married couples. It is, she reports, the longest running study to date into the factors which influence the success or failure of marriage.
Since the study began, 46 per cent of the couples have divorced.
Writing on Hitched, Dr Orbuch said: “Some of the most interesting findings from the study pertain to gender differences. Men and women have real differences when it comes to what they want and need in order to stay happy and together in the relationship.”
She says the following are key gender differences:
*Men do not feel the same need to discuss emotions and the dynamics of a relationship as most women. Statements such as “we need to talk” cause “real distress” she claims, and are seen by many men as an indication that the relationship is in trouble and divorce is likely.
*Whereas women often receive positive attention, compliments and validation from friends, family members, colleagues and sometimes even strangers, men rarely do and so look to their wives for this kind of attention. Men who feel they are rarely “fussed over” by the wives are twice as likely to divorce, she claims.
*A close relationship with in-laws affects men and women in very different ways. Men who are close to their in-laws are 20 per cent less likely to divorce, whereas women who have a close relationship with their in-laws are 20 per cent more likely to divorce!
*Women are typically distressed by arguments and want closure and resolution. They therefore, Orbuch claims, often try to revive earlier arguments to continue the discussion. If they don’t feel that rows have been resolved, they are more likely to divorce. Men by contrast rarely feel the need to return to old arguments and are sometimes unable to even remember what an argument was about the following day.
*Religious women are less likely to divorce but this does not the same is not true for religious men.
*Educated women are less likely to divorce, with the odds of divorce decreasing by 23 per cent for every year of higher education.
Dr Orbuch said:
”When we study husbands and wives, we discover that men and women are different when it comes to relationships. This is a small sampling of those differences. When we learn about what makes the other gender tick, particularly in terms of how it affects the marriage, we can find ways to accommodate or be more accepting of our spouse’s differences.”