Are you married, nagged, and not as happy as your wife? Research supports you will stay married forever.
There is a theory that many researchers are currently looking at called the “Happiness Gap”. Basically, this theory claims that if a husband is not as happy as his wife in a marriage then the couple is much more likely to stay together than if the wife was unhappier than the husband. If the guy is hen-pecked or nagged, he may have stumbled on to the secret of a long marriage. What, how can that be? We thought just the opposite. If you are nagged or hen-pecked (not a psych term and somewhat stereotyped, but I am quoting the study) you may stay in the marriage for the long haul. The other interesting aspect of this study is that when the husband is happier than the wife she is more likely to leave him.
This study was led by a team of economists who identified a phenomenon in marriage which they called the “happiness gap”. They used data from tens of thousands of relationships in three different countries and discovered the bigger the difference in the happiness of husbands and wives the greater the risk of a break up. What they did not anticipate was the effect was only seen when the husband was feeling better than his wife. Most divorces are initiated by women so it was not a surprise that when they are unhappy they would begin the divorce proceedings.
When asked what typically broadened the happiness gap for women they reported things such as:
1. The chores were not equally distributed and they felt overwhelmed by housework or that their mates did not participate.
2. A difference in social backgrounds from their husbands.
3. If they felt that they were better educated than their husbands.
When asked what narrowed the happiness gap for women they came up with these three items:
1. They were matched to their husband’s social backgrounds.
2. They shared a common religion.
3. If the chores were shared equally (it seems to matter most that their husbands try to help with the load. Women were less demanding if they stayed home while their husbands worked) or if he at least made an effort to help.
Dr. Cahit Guven, an Australian expert in wellbeing and economics, supports the idea that couples were happiest when they were on the same “happiness tier” which he describes as how the couple feels about life as they do about each other. What Dr. Cahit Guven also found is that the happiness gap was wider for couples who live together than those who are legally married. Most likely these couples were not totally committed to one another and it is difficult to feel happy about yourself as a couple if you are not sure you are going to commit to being a couple.
If you are not married yet and want to narrow your happiness gap so you both can have a happy fulfilling marriage these suggestions may be helpful for you:
1. Resist living together for any reason. Saving money or being more efficient with gas are not good enough reasons to live together. Neither is trying it out—it doesn’t prove anything, only that you can live together. The only time to live together is when you are engaged and have a wedding date. Otherwise keep your own place.
2. Go to church together. You don’t have to be of the same faith, but it helps. Being respectful of each other’s faith is VERY IMPORTANT.
3. Make a list of chores prior to marriage (taking out the garbage, lawn work, the bills, changing light bulbs, etc…) and try to divide them so everyone is doing their fair share.
4. Make sure you know and like each other’s families. No other criteria are as important as where your spouse came from and who mentored him/her. Make sure you understand the dynamics (is someone an addict to any substance, is cussing allowed, how they deal with anger, are they respectful of their son or daughter who you are about to marry, etc…) Take your time and do your homework prior to the wedding.
5. Make sure your years of schooling are comparable. If you are a neurosurgeon planning to marry a person who dropped out of high school you are in for a rough marriage. Lust, looks, and emotions get in our way of making sound decisions. At the end of the day it takes someone who understands you and you can talk too easily. Most neurosurgeons I know use a different vocabulary than a high school dropout.
Most of us want to be happy and we think it is fated or bad luck if we aren’t. More likely it is making wise decisions regarding what kind of a person we want to be with for the rest of our life and not settling. If you are married to a happy woman and feel nagged or hen-pecked, chances are you will be married for a very long time. –Mary Jo Rapin