Wives everywhere, stand up and cheer because science has just granted us a win.
It turns out the most successful marriages are those in which a husband welcomes his wife’s influence.
Dr. John Gottman (who’s considered one of the leading researchers when it comes to relationships) conducted a long-term study of 130 newlywed couples and concluded that relationships where wives have a voice and influence over decisions were more likely to be happier marriages. Those couples were less likely to divorce too.
If you’re reading this and thinking “See! It’s all my husband’s fault,” remember that it takes two to tango, and playing the blame game brings couples into dangerous territory. In fact, Gottman has found contempt to be the most lethal to relationships and the best indicator of divorce, explains Dr. Cher Geiger, a licensed clinical psychologist trained in the Gottman Method of couples therapy. Contempt is when one partner comes from a position of superiority (morally, intellectually or psychologically speaking) and puts down the other.
“Couples get in trouble when they match negativity with negativity instead of making repairs to de-escalate conflict,” notes an article from The Gottman Institute summarizing this research.
Gottman’s research shows there is an 81 percent chance that a marriage will end in divorce if a man is unwilling to share “the pants,” so to speak.
And, if this isn’t enough to convince you that a happy wife equals a happy life, a new study published by the American Psychological Association, shows that having a happy spouse may be related to better overall health too.
And if you feel like you have some work to do in your relationship, take heart.
“The great thing about emotional intelligence is that it can be improved if we’re willing to be influenced either by an emotionally intelligent partner, or a therapist,” says Dr. Geiger. During Gottman therapy sessions, she helps her clients learn to express feelings and needs with the respect one’s partner deserves, for example, “I’m upset that you forgot my dry cleaning,” not “You’re so selfish—you never remember what’s important to me.”
Knowing that conflicts can and will happen in your marriage, Gottman says: “The key is to understand your partner’s point of view and be willing to compromise.”
Photo by LyndaSanchez