The “happy wife, happy life” adage has been around for decades, but new research shows that there may be a kernel of truth to this oft-cited wisdom.
After analysing the responses of nearly 400 older adult couples (with at least one spouse age 60 or older) in USA researchers found that women who view their marriage in a positive light have happier husbands, regardless of how the husband himself perceives the union.
In an ideal world, both spouses would be highly-satisfied within the relationship. But, if someone has to be unhappy, it might be better for both partners if the husband is the one with more complaints.
For both husbands and wives, being happier was linked to greater life satisfaction and contentment.
But wives’ assessments of the marriage are more important in some respects than their husbands’ reports. It comes down to the fact that when a wife is satisfied with the marriage she tends to do a lot more for her husband, which has a positive effect on his life.
Men, on the other hand, are often less likely to voice their feelings, which lessens the impact of their marriage-related emotions on their wives.
A good marriage may help you age well
Scientists have found that marriage can help you:
- Live longer
- Eat more healthily
- Engage in fewer risk behaviors (i.e. smoking, excessive drinking)
- Fend off depression and other mental illnesses
- Have a more robust immune system
- Avoid cancer and heart disease
And, even though the research indicates that women may be less affected by their partner’s unhappiness, the report maintains that it is the health of the relationship that primarily determines the health benefits reaped by the couple.
“The quality of a marriage is important,” it says, “It provides a buffer against the health-depleting effects of later life stressors and helps couples manage difficult decisions regarding health and medical decision making.”
by Tina Foster
The Mature Guide to relationships, love and sex is supported by Relate, the relationship people and written with Barbara Bloomfield, who is a Relate couples counsellor with 14 years of experience in the counselling field.
The guide, brought to you by Mature Times, is designed to help you nurture and develop existing relationships, or help you find new ones: whether that is a new partner or new friends and companions to become part of your life as you get older.