Hiding emotion hurts marriage

Family|May 30th 2016

Husbands and wives who hide their emotions from one another tend to become less satisfied with their marriage.

Researchers from the University of Genoa in northwest Italy surveyed 229 newly married couples to find out how often they suppressed their emotions. They also assessed each spouse’s happiness with their marriage at two different times, the first after the couples had been married for just five months and the second when they had been married for two years.

They found that people may sometimes find it “desirable to restrain [themselves] from openly expressing the emotions that arise during interactions” with their partners. This came from a fear that “expressing them could potentially impair [their] relationship or hurt [their] partner’s feelings”. This could occur when one spouse hides “negative emotional reactions” they fear their partner would dislike or showing happiness when their husband or wife is feeling sad.

Despite the intentions of hiding such emotions, the study suggested that it actually does more harm than good.

The team also identified a significant difference between the effects of each spouse concealing their emotions. Husbands’ “use of suppression was the most consistent predictor of (lower) marital quality over time”, the researchers said, adding that “wives [were] more sensitive to their partners’ use of suppression”. These factors led to the conclusion that it was “more harmful for marital satisfaction” when a husband hid how he felt than when a wife does so.

In 2014, a study from Rutgers University in the US suggested that a wife’s happiness was more important to a marriage than her husband’s. This was primarily because when a wife is happy, she is more likely to do things for her husband which will make his life more enjoyable.

The University of Genoa study was published in the academic Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.

Photo by Alan O’Rourke via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.

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  1. Andy says:

    It’s no surprise the wife/mother is happy above the Father/husband..only because she is syphoning family finances from family accounts having an extra marital affair and knowing the legal system will support all gains when divorce kicks in…
    First hurdle is how to lie on your E forms..If competed…
    Just another day in British society….

  2. JamesB says:

    Men and women don’t tend to do nothing for free. The altruistic idea of people wanting to do things for each other expecting nothing back seems to have gone out the window. Like not getting a present for someone at Xmas and expecting one from them.

    The only time I ever did that (expect to receive without giving) was from my parents and even that is a bit out the window now. Also they perhaps expect payback being looked after in old age.

    Perhaps the only altruistic relationship is where parents give to their children expecting nothing in return, and even that isn’t completely altruistic as they are passing on their genes.

    Must remember to be nicer to people I suppose is the moral to the story.

    With re to telling spouse everything as per the article, doesn’t sound like good or expert advice, although do by all means invite her into all the rooms of your life 🙂 is better advice and vice versa although I lose interest in women talking to me about all their worries and workings sometimes, I think try and smile and be interested I suppose and work together on things rather than separate. Perhaps I am thinking I need to go through this with my ASD child as they can struggle in relationships.

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