New Study About Marital Happiness Reveals Who’s Really In Control

A recent study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley looked at more than 80 heterosexual couples, all middle-aged and older, to discover how they recovered from disagreements – and how that recovery process affected marital happiness.

The results of the study showed something that some of you might know (albeit intuitively) already!

The study found that the biggest driving factor in marital happiness in the wake of a disagreement was how quickly the wife calmed down. In a more general sense, this indicates that, at least for the demographic studied, a happy wife means a happy marriage!

A new study shows that (middle-aged and older) women may be the key to happiness in a marriage.
A new study shows that (middle-aged and older) women may be the key to happiness in a marriage.

Now, this isn’t true across the board, of course. It takes both members of a marriage to keep things happy and healthy, but this study certainly says a lot about who’s pulling the emotional strings of the marriage, and lends some validity to the stereotype that women are the emotional epicenters of romantic relationships.

The study, lead by Lian Bloch, looked closely at the process of calming down emotionally, not necessarily resolving the problem itself, and found that when wives were able to calm down more quickly, both members of the marriage reported higher levels of overall happiness.

The researchers believe that this is directly related to communication, and more importantly, the way effective communication relates to marital satisfaction. Bloch says, “You don’t have to have an anger-free marriage to have a happy marriage. By calming down emotionally instead of being caught up in the negative hot spots, couples are able to think and communicate solutions more clearly, and this drives marital satisfaction.”

When the wife is able to calm down, it in turn helps her husband calm down, and the couple can move forward with more effective communication, resolve problems, and achieve higher levels of happiness! It doesn’t mean not getting angry, it just means overcoming the emotional hurdles that can cause you to say things you regret, make rash decisions, and prevent productive problem solving.

Husbands, you’re not completely off the hook on this one – you both contribute to marital happiness. This study, however, confirms that (for this demographic) women may very well be the emotional gatekeepers. When wives are happier, husbands are happier, and the entire marriage is stronger for it!

For more advice on how to strengthen your marriage, check out the StrongMarriageNow System today!
Dr. Dana Fillmore and Amy Barnhart, co-Founders,

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Hilary 10 years ago

I'm married 25 years and for 10 of those years my husband was incredibly emotionally abusive - critical of everything (I couldn't do a thing without a comment and it was never supportive or encouraging); nit picked; controlling... You name it. I was miserable. Hated him. 7 years ago he started commuting to California for work. The most incredible time. He was gone. When the job ended 3 1/2 years later I told him not to come home as I was done being treated like a doormat. We spent the next 2 years in therapy and I learned how to talk to him without shutting down and slowly we put the pieces back together. He still makes stupid comments but I call him on it and remind him where the front door is. For now it works but I knew I could never go back to "that" way of living or being treated. Maybe I'm stupid?! But it wasn't always like that so I was willing to try. One day at a time.

Mike_Olsen_SMN 10 years ago

Hello, Hilary - You are a strong person to continue working on your marriage. While we are pro-marriage, we do agree abuse is a valid reason for living. I glad you were both able to work through it with therapy. Now I hope you can reconnect -

Robby 10 years ago

I think there's something to be said about anyone being able to calm down in a heated situation. It's just easier to talk and work things out when you aren't emotional and shouting.

Al 10 years ago

So what happens when the wife of 14years cheats on her husband?

Mike_Olsen_SMN 10 years ago

Hi, Robby - That is definitely true for either sex!

Mike_Olsen_SMN 10 years ago

Hello, Al - There are several things that can happen. That is going to depend on you both. We believe a marriage can be saved after infidelity if both partners want it too, and we have several articles addressing that. Here is a whole section, and I hope you both can fall back in love -

Chris 10 years ago

After 14 years of marriage, five kids, and observations of many other couples, this only adds to what I have discovered about three years ago: Marriage is all about the woman's emotions. Yet nobody has the guts to addresses the fact that there is no real relationship going-on with such a construct.

Mike_Olsen_SMN 10 years ago

Hi, Chris - we are always working on discovering the truth of happy couples. We want both partners to feel joy in their marriage.