Husband or Wife? The Partner Whose Happiness Matters More For The Marriage

Which spouse’s happiness is most important for marital satisfaction?

Which spouse’s happiness is most important for marital satisfaction?

When the wife is happy with a long-term partnership, the husband is happier, no matter how he feels about the marriage.

For marital quality, it seems the wife’s happiness matters more than the husband’s.

The conclusion comes from a study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, which looked at the marital satisfaction and happiness of older adults (Carr et al., 2014).

Professor Deborah Carr, the study’s first author said:

“I think 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 tend to be less vocal about their relationships and their level of marital unhappiness might not be translated to their wives.”

Almost 400 couples took part in the research, which asked them how much they argue, get on each other’s nerves, whether they are appreciated by their spouses and how much they feel understood.

The couples also kept diaries detailing how happy they were while taking part in everyday activities like watching television and doing household chores.

Along with the importance of the wife’s happiness, the researchers also found that wives got less happy when their husbands were sick, but the husbands’ happiness did not drop in response to their wife’s sickness.

Professor Carr thinks this is to do with who takes over the care-giving:

“We know that when a partner is sick it is the wife that often does the caregiving, which can be a stressful experience.

But often when a woman gets sick it is not her husband she relies on but her daughter.”

Finally, the researchers looked at the overall quality of the marriages.

They found that most rated their life satisfaction as ‘high’: a five out of six points.

Overall, husbands were slightly happier with their marriages than wives.

Carr continued:

“For both spouses being in a better-rated marriage was linked to greater life satisfaction and happiness.”

“The quality of a marriage is important because 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.”


Small Gifts Give Much More Pleasure Than We Predict (M)

Givers tend to focus overly on how modest the gift is, while the recipient concentrates on the warm feeling they get.

Givers tend to focus overly on how modest the gift is, while the recipient concentrates on the warm feeling they get.

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The Personality Trait That Makes People Happier

They approach potentially rewarding situations and achieve their ambitions.

They approach potentially rewarding situations and achieve their ambitions.

People with higher self-control are happier because they pursue more rewarding goals, research finds.

Having high self-control is linked to being more positive in life, approaching potentially rewarding situations and achieving ambitions.

People high on self-control are also less likely to focus on the negative, which leads to avoidance.

The result is that people with high self-control are happier:

“…individuals with higher [self-control] are not only happier in that they experience greater life satisfaction, they also do not need to self-regulate as often as one may think.”

In other words, people with high self-control battle with their inner demons less because it is easier for them to make the more virtuous choice.

And, in the long run, more virtuous choices, repeated over many years, make a person happier.

Greater happiness is not the only benefit of self-control, as the study’s authors write:

“…research has also consistently shown higher [self-control] to be associated with more positive outcomes in life such as higher academic achievement, better health, more interpersonal success, and less maladaptive adjustments.

As such, self-control has been heralded as an evolutionary trait to ensure adaptation and survival.”

The results come from a survey of 545 people who were asked about their self-control, levels of happiness and how they made decisions.

The study’s authors explain:

“…individuals with high [self-control] are less likely to encounter motivational conflicts, they are therefore also less obligated to exert avoidance-oriented strategies associated with a prevention focus to resist or counter temptations or vices.

Instead, they are more liberated to pursue their goals, aspirations and ideals by carrying out approach-oriented strategies to actualize their personal ambitions as encouraged by a promotion focus.”

The rash should beware!

Some might say the results are the opposite of what they expect.

After all, if you are always denying yourself by exerting your self-control, when do you have any fun?

As the authors write:

“One could imagine that constantly self-regulating according to morals, standards, and social expectations would result in living a dull, mundane, and joyless life.”

In fact, the study finds that people high in self-control spend less time regulating themselves and making difficult decisions.

People with high self-control are happier in the long-run and in the short-term.

The rash should beware!

The study was published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology (Cheung et al., 2014).

This Belief About Time And Money Makes You Happier

Time or money, which do you prioritise?

Time or money, which do you prioritise?

Putting greater value on your time than your money is linked to more happiness, a study finds.

Slightly over half of the participants in the study valued their time over their money.

The remainder valued their money over their time.

The conclusions come from six studies with over 4,600 people.

Ms Ashley Whillans, who led the research, said:

“It appears that people have a stable preference for valuing their time over making more money, and prioritizing time is associated with greater happiness.”

The older people were, the more likely they were to value their time.

Ms  Whillans said:

“As people age, they often want to spend time in more meaningful ways than just making money.”

People were given a series of scenarios that pitted time against money.

For example, they were asked to choose between having a more expensive apartment and shorter commute or cheaper apartment and longer commute.

Or, they were asked: would you choose a job with longer hours and higher starting salary or lower hours and lower starting salary.

While both of these are major decisions for most people, the time/money split also held for more everyday decisions.

Neither people’s income nor gender affected whether they were more swayed by time or money.

However, people at the very bottom end of the income spectrum were not included in the research.

Some people may have to prioritise money in order to survive.

Ms  Whillans said:

“Having more free time is likely more important for happiness than having more money.

Even giving up a few hours of a paycheck to volunteer at a food bank may have more bang for your buck in making you feel happier.”

The study was published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science (Whillans et al., 2015).

4 Ways To Boost Your Well-Being And Happiness

These are the four psychological pillars of well-being-being.

These are the four psychological pillars of well-being-being.

Awareness, connection, insight and purpose are the four pillars of psychological well-being, a study concludes.

In the face of rising mental health problems, made worse by the pandemic, these pillars can help everyone improve their emotional well-being.

The researchers focus on areas that can be improved with training or other effortful practice:

  • Awareness: being attentive to ones’ environment and one’s own body.
  • Connections: experiencing kindness and compassion.
  • Insight: increasing curiosity and self-knowledge
  • Purpose: understanding one’s motivations and values.

Dr Cortland Dahl, the study’s first author, said:

“There are qualities of a healthy mind that many people don’t know are even trainable.

We don’t think of them as skills.

Many of us have thought we are hardwired to be like this or that, but the reality is these qualities are much more trainable and malleable than we think.

It’s a very empowering view of the human mind — we can learn to be in the driver’s seat of our own mind.”

Increasing awareness, for example, helps increase positive emotions and reduce stress.

Awareness also helps to reduce mentally damaging habits like distraction.

A common way to improve awareness is through meditation.

Meditation, though, describes a huge range of different practices, Dr Dahl said:

“Different types of meditation do different things for your brain, just as different sports trigger different changes in your body.

You can train your mind in different pillars that go beyond mindfulness or even gratitude practices.”

Cultivating insight, meanwhile, explained Professor Richard Davidson, study co-author, is…

“…about getting curious about your own preconceived thoughts and opinions.

Your brain is not set.

You can question your own assumptions and biases, and this has tremendous potential to heal the division and ‘othering’ that we see in today’s society.”

Even if our circumstances are difficult to change, our minds can be trained, said Dr Dahl:

“This work is parallel with what we’re learning about human biology.

We’re just at the beginning of understanding that our biology is also malleable.

We are not born a certain fixed way.

Our brains and nervous systems and biology can be shaped.

That’s such a hopeful view to have — there are many ways we can influence our minds, brains and bodies for the better.”

A few resources to get you started

The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Dahl et al., 2020).

20 Movies That Help You Make Sense Of Life

These films help people make sense of problems in life and accept the human condition.

These films help people make sense of problems in life and accept the human condition.

Meaningful films help people cope with life’s problems, research suggests.

People report that movies like The Shawshank Redemption, Up and Schindler’s List, help them to make sense of problems in life and accept the human condition.

Other films rated as meaningful include Hotel Rwanda and Slumdog Millionaire.

While these films are not necessarily uplifting, they are all moving and poignant.

And that is the key to a meaningful film: having an emotional range, being inspirational and containing both happy and sad moments.

People did not report these types of benefits when they watched other well-regarded but not so meaningful films like Catch Me If You Can and The Big Lebowski.

Mr Jared Ott, the study’s first author, said:

“Meaningful movies actually help people cope with difficulties in their own lives, and help them want to pursue more significant goals.”

For the study, over 1,000 people rated different films — 20 of which were chosen for being highly meaningful, while the other 20 were not (see below for the full list).

Professor Michael Slater, study co-author, explained the results:

“We found that people felt better able to make sense of difficulties in their own life when they recalled a movie that focused on values that were important to them.”

Films which were more meaningful, people said were more likely to help them:

  • “Feel like struggles in life are for a reason.”
  • “More easily handle difficult situations with grace and courage.”

People thinking about meaningful films were also more likely to agree with statements like:

  • “Both happy and sad experiences give meaning to our life.”
  • “Gains and losses are part of life.”

The research also showed the importance of individual values.

People found more meaning in films that espoused values they themselves believed in.

Mr Ott said:

“That happened even when the movie was classified as one of the less meaningful films.

The findings suggest why many people see movies as more than just entertainment.

Some films may help people cope and grow through difficult periods in their life.

And people may recognize this effect years after they have seen a particular movie.”

20 meaningful films

Here is the full list of more meaningful films, in no particular order:

  • The Shawshank Redemption
  • Forrest Gump
  • The Pursuit of Happyness
  • Into the Wild
  • The Green Mile
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
  • Schindler’s List
  • A Beautiful Mind
  • The Pianist
  • Slumdog Millionaire
  • Gran Torino
  • Rain Man
  • Good Will Hunting
  • Saving Private Ryan
  • Dead Poet’s Society
  • Braveheart
  • Hotel Rwanda
  • Million Dollar Baby
  • Gladiator
  • Up

The less meaningful films used in the study:

  • Pulp Fiction
  • Casino
  • Blood Diamond
  • The Departed
  • The Big Lebowski
  • Mystic River
  • The Usual Suspects
  • Catch Me if You Can
  • Snatch1
  • There will be blood
  • No Country for Old Men
  • Crimes and Misdemeanors
  • Trainspotting
  • LA Confidential
  • The Princess Bride
  • Se7en
  • V for Vendetta
  • Sin City
  • Fight Club
  • Ratatouille

The study was published in the journal Mass Communication and Society (Ott et al., 2021).