Happy Wife, Happy Life: Is It True?

by TheWritingCowboy

The saying - A happy wife makes for a happy life - has been around for a long time. Is it true. There has been some scientific research that says 'yes.'

What couple hasn’t heard the phrase, “A Happy Wife Makes For A Happy Life?” Those who have not probably fall into the categories of being single or not paying attention to their significant other. Either one might cause serious problems. Put simply, the phrase suggests that among married people the husband’s life can be measurably better if the wife in the marriage is pleased, satisfied, or more content in some way or another, more so perhaps than the husband. It’s a question that’s been debated forever.

The term has been the subject of numerous jokes and variations. There are even several websites devoted to the topic. The origin of the term is unknown, but various pundits claim it is of Shakespearian derivation, while others claim an ancient oriental birth. Whatever the root, today the term is used often, perhaps too much as some online voices saying it is overused, hackneyed and leaves out the other half of a relationship and their need for happiness as well.


But, does the phrase have real scientific validity? There have been a number of studies done on the subject over the years. A German study in 2009 of Australian divorces found when there is a disparity in terms of the satisfaction of the husband and the wife, divorce is much more likely, especially if the relative dissatisfaction is experienced by the wife. A more recent study (2014) by Rutgers University and the University of Michigan researchers seems to confirm the notion that happy wives make for a better, long-lasting relationship. What’s more, when the wife is content with the relationship, the study suggests, the husband is also happier irrespective of how he feels about the relationship in general. So, the study says, even if the husband is having doubts about the solidity of the marriage, if his wife is happy he’ll be happier as well.

The researchers say that “when a wife is satisfied with the marriage she tends to do a lot more for her husband,” thereby having a more positive effect on his life. That statement alone may result in numerous other studies, not to mention criticism on its seeming one-sidedness. But, the researchers explain, men are less vocal about their relationships and even though they may be unhappy in their marriage they are less likely to say so and therefore their unhappiness may not be translated to their wives. I, for one, find this a dubious explanation because I have no doubt that a wife or husband can sense if the other is unhappy, particularly if the relationship is some years old.

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400 Couples Studied

To come to their conclusions the researchers analyzed data from nearly 400 couples who had been married for a long time, 39 years on average. The couples were asked a number of questions such as how much they are appreciated by their spouse, if their feelings are well understood by the other, arguments they have and when and how the other might irritate them. They were also asked to keep diaries about how happy they were during the previous day and during activities such as shopping, doing housework, and relaxing. The outcome of the data suggested that most of the couples were generally satisfied, but with the husbands rating their relationship slightly more positive than their wives’ ratings.

The research also found that that wives became less happy if their husbands became ill, while the husbands level of happiness didn’t change if their wives got sick. That, the researchers say, is because wives typically do more caregiving when their husband gets sick while when the wife gets sick, the husband may rely on others (daughters, close relatives) for help and therefore doesn’t get the full impact of the caregiving necessary to assist an ill spouse.

Impact Of Happiness As They Age

The happy wife, happy life situation goes beyond just a party discussion or cold research. The scientists say the quality of a marriage has serious impact as couples age. The better the relationship, they say, the better couples are able to cope with health and medical decision-making and other issues.

So, does all this offer conclusive evidence that wives who are happy insure a better relationship? I’d say, maybe. No scientific study applies perfectly to all situations. There are many more conditions and factors that come into play in any particular relationship. Moreover, I wonder why the saying even exists as a subject of study. Wouldn’t two people who enter into a relationship or marriage want both partners to be equally happy? Does any marriage vow include terms that suggest that one half of the couple will do more to make the other happy than the other will? Of course not. So, perhaps the thing to learn here is that happiness is best when all parties in a relationship share equally in those everyday things that make both happy. They are not necessarily the same things, but recognizing what those different happiness generating things are for each is important for each half of a couple to remember. Wouldn’t you agree? It would make me happy if you did!


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Updated: 10/02/2014, TheWritingCowboy
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