Marital Disagreements & Wives
New Study: It Matters More For Wives To Calm Down After An Argument Than Husbands
Turns out there’s a lot of truth in “happy wife, happy life” — or least “happy wife, happy marriage,” anyway.
A recent study conducted by researchers at UC Berkeley found that, when it comes to happy marriages, it’s more important that the wife keeps her cool during an argument than the husband.
The study found that, in fact, both husbands and wives were equally capable of keeping their temper during a conflict (which is interesting and refreshing evidence to hear as generalizations are often made about both sexes regarding temper). However, when they looked at the long-term results, “the husbands’ emotional regulation had little or no bearing on long-term marital satisfaction.”
The 80 couples in the study were part of a cohort of 156 heterosexual couples that researchers at UC Berkeley have been tracking since 1989.
The study confirms a long-time stereotype that wives are the “peacemakers” in heterosexual relationships.
The senior author of the study, psychologist Robert Levenson, suggested that the potential reason for this is that when wives offer solutions it generally helps the conflict, whereas when husbands offer solutions, they can often be “criticize[d] for leaping into problem-solving mode too quickly.”
However, a co-author of the study, Claudia Haase made the point that as gender roles have shifted and changed over the years, the dynamics of the middle-aged couples in the sample may not be reflective of young couples today.
Most young people today are progressing toward gender equality in their relationships. Part of achieving this is having both spouses feel comfortable expressing their opinions and not having either one consistently playing the role of peace-maker or decision-maker.
One excellent answer came from OilyB:
“If it’s someone I love and the subject of the argument is small enough, I try to restore love and connection; it’s more important than being right sometimes.
If the subject is more important I try to find the emotion/emotional need behind their statement or behavior, vice versa with mine. If the feeling or need is valid we try to find a different strategy for nurturing that need. This incorporates the ability to want to fully listen to and understand what the other person says, even if you really don’t agree . It’s a sign of intelligence when one is capable of discussing an idea one is totally opposed to.
Last resort: acceptance of a difference of opinion or need. Acceptance is a muscle everybody needs to train.”
Sometimes in disagreements with loved ones, how each party feels is more important than the facts or details of the argument. For example, if one person in the relationship thinks the other is cheating on them and it turns out to be untrue, what’s more important is the bigger issue — that there is clearly a problem with trust in that relationship — rather than the fact that one person was wrong about the other cheating on them.
Gender dynamics in couples are definitely changing, seemingly, generally for the better. And keeping an open mind and trying to put oneself in the shoes of the other is advice that both husbands and wives can take to the bank.