A wife’s happiness is more important to a successful marriage than her husband’s, a new study claims.
Researchers at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, found that the more satisfied the wife is in a marriage, the happier her husband will be.
Deborah Carr, a Rutgers professor and co-author of the research, said that when a wife is happy “she tends to do a lot more for her husband, which has a positive effect on his life”.
The study also indicated that a husband’s level of happiness did not have the same impact on the quality of the marriage. It was published in the Journal of Marriage and Family.
Carr suggested that this could be because men tended to be “less vocal about their relationships”, which means that any unhappiness they feel “might not be translated to their wives”.
The study analysed data from 394 older couples who were married for an average of 39 years. The couples were each asked questions about whether their spouse appreciates or understands them, and how often they argue.
Unsurprisingly, the research indicated that the couples who were happier with their marriage also reported “greater life satisfaction and happiness” in general.
Researchers also found that wives become more unhappy when their spouse falls ill than husbands do when the situation is reversed.
Carr said that this could be because when a husband is unwell, it is usually down to his wife to care for him, which can be stressful. Conversely, when a wife gets sick, she is more likely to rely upon a daughter for care than her husband, so he will not experience the same stress levels.
She added that the research was important because marital happiness has been linked with overall health in previous studies.
For example, in July, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh found that unhappy marriages could increase the risk of heart disease.