Happy Wife, Happy Life

Happy Wife, Happy Life?

Happy Wife, Happy Life?

Hitting the headlines today is news of a study published earlier this month in the Journal of Marriage and Family examining the associations between marital quality and life satisfaction, experience and well-being.

The authors of the study explained:

Marital quality is positively associated with subjective well-being, and this association is typically stronger among women than men. However, most studies have examined newlyweds, young couples, or those with children living in the home.

The present study considered these effects amongst older husbands and wives. The study explored the ways that marital quality appraisals are associated with two aspects of older adults subjective well-being:

(a) evaluations of one’s life in general (i.e., global life satisfaction)
(b) how one experiences life moment to moment (i.e., happiness during randomly sampled activities on the day prior to interview)

The researchers used a combination of diaries, telephone interviews and assessments in order to identify associations between marriage quality and marital quality and were able to offer new insights into associations between marital quality and different aspects of emotional well-being in later life.

We found that marital quality was strongly associated with evaluations of one’s life as a whole (as reflected in judgments of life satisfaction) and moment-to-moment experiences of happiness while performing daily activities.

That is to say that the higher the quality of marriage that was observed, the happier the couples evaluated their life as a whole, this was the same for both genders. The study also found an interesting result in relation to men’s views of their marriage:

Finally, we found that the strength of association between a man’s marital quality assessment and his life satisfaction is contingent on his wife’s marital appraisals.

Meaning that even if a man views his marriage negatively, as long as his wife views the marriage positively then he is still able to enjoy relatively high levels of life satisfaction.

While this study revealed some interesting findings it is important to accept that in a study considering marital quality and life satisfaction in older adults, we would probably expect to find these signs of satisfaction and well-being as by the very nature of the participants they should be happy – otherwise they would not still be together.

Future research may wish to compare the quality of life and life satisfaction of married individuals versus non-married individuals in order to provide a like-for-life comparison.