Marital happiness depends on wives keeping calm during arguments
When spouses argue, it can sometimes be difficult for them to control their emotions, resulting in angry outbursts that can damage the relationship, but according to a new study published in the journal Emotion, long-term happiness in the marriage hinges on the wives, not the husbands, staying calm in the eye of a marital storm.
Researchers from the University of California-Berkeley and Northwestern University conducted the study, which involved more than 80 middle-aged or older heterosexual couples.
What the study found was that both short- and long-term marital happiness hinged on how quickly wives managed to calm down during an argument. For the study, the researchers evaluated recorded disagreements between each couple, paying particular attention to how quickly they rebounded from disputes.
As lead study author Lian Bloch pointed out, anger and disapproval can be "threatening" to most relationships, but if wives can manage to regain their composure, their marriage “can continue to thrive.”
Age may also play a role in how couples interact during arguments, according to the study’s co-author Claudia Haase, an assistant professor at Northwestern University.
She noted that the couples in the study were either middle-aged or older; thus, they grew up during a time when “men treated women very differently” in a so-called traditional marriage.
In a traditional marriage, the wife is viewed as the caretaker and peacemaker, but the researchers say their new study is the first to show that the wife is also primarily responsible for maintaining and keeping peace in the marital relationship over the long haul.
Their findings also revealed that the couple's marital happiness was strongest when the wife could control her anger while using “constructive communication” to nip arguments in the bud.
By the same token, the researchers were surprised to find that a husband’s ability to control his anger had little to no impact on the couple’s long-term marital happiness.
SOURCE: Emotion Regulation Predicts Marital Satisfaction: More Than a Wives’ Tale.
Bloch, Lian; Haase, Claudia M.; Levenson, Robert W., Published in journal Emotion, November 4, 2013, doi: 10.1037/a0034272