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Have you heard the expression, “Happy wife, happy life”? Turns out, it may be true.

September 16, 2014

Have you heard the expression, “Happy wife, happy life”? Turns out, it may be true.

According to new research published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, husbands’ appraisal of their marriage—and life satisfaction overall—depends on whether their wives are happy in the marriage.

A key finding: Even a man who is unhappy in his marriage may rate his life satisfaction higher if his wife is happy in the marriage. (Alas, the reverse wasn't true.) The Rutgers University researchers suspect it may have to do with how a happy wife treats her husband; she may offer more help or emotional support. The reverse situation does not seem to be a recipe for domestic bliss; an unhappy wife may be less likely to offer support for her husband and more apt to criticize him, according to the study.

The study researchers examined overall well-being and marital happiness among 394 couples who had been married for an average of 39 years. Both partners were over 50 years old, and at least one spouse was over 60.

The researchers noted that the participants’ age may have a strong influence on the results, at least in part because of their adherence to more traditional gender roles. They cited other research that found that both husbands and wives appraise their marital satisfaction based on what the wives do for the husbands, while younger couples may look at relationships in a more egalitarian way.

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