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.
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