Why are Women Less Happy than Men in Marriage?

Men are generally happier in their marriages than women are. A survey of men taken by the Chicago Sun-Times showed 78 percent of men would remarry their wives. Another survey by Women’s Day Magazine showed only half of women would choose to remarry their husbands.

Why do you there is such a wide disparity? Some may say it’s because women do more of the work at home and increasingly bring in a second income for the family. Some experts believe that men experience fulfillment more easily than women. Women, on the other hand, have high expectations and romantic inclinations.

Mark Gungor, speaker and author of Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage writes that he used to put the blame on men’s shoulders for thoughtless or insensitive. However, he says women file for 80 percent of all divorces and are usually the ones frustrated with the relationship, the disappointed ones. He writes that women’s unrealistic expectations are often responsible for divorce, not inept men.

I’ll say I agree up to a point. Just because a man is happy with the situation doesn’t mean that it’s a positive environment for his wife. However, I will agree that I as a wife have struggled with having unrealistic expectations, and I know other wives do as well. Despite having excellent husbands, we sometimes wish life were a little more romantic. And, truth be told, we wish our husbands could read our minds and know (and fulfill) our deepest longings.

I also agree that women look to their husband to meet too many of their needs, especially with family often living at a distance. While generations ago, women lived and worked together and supported one another, today’s families are much more isolated. So, we expect our husbands to be our confidants, our lovers, our best friends, our emotional supports, and more. We also want them to be good providers and share the workload at home.

Our spouse shouldn’t be expected to meet all of our needs, and he or she cannot be our source of hope or happiness.

“A successful marriage is possible only when two complete and happy people get together for the purpose of building a life together. They do not need the other to be truly happy, complete or emotionally whole,” says Gungor.

This is where I wholeheartedly agree. Yes, men need to feel respected, and women need to feel loved. We need to express our needs and our feelings to our spouse, but we also need to be responsible for creating our own fulfilled and joy-filled lives.

For a better perspective on this, read What if Today Were Your Last Day With Your Spouse; Patty Newbold learns the hard way about dropping unnecessary expectations. Also, check out What Do You Expect From Your Marriage and Mate, especially if you feel life and marriage for you hasn’t been entirely fair lately for you.

Read from the Washington Post about how delaying divorce can save marriages, and how new legislation may be coming to your state. It’s a very interesting proposal by two well-qualified individuals.

Photo by Photostock courtesty of freedigitalphotos.net

31 responses to “Why are Women Less Happy than Men in Marriage?

  1. Catholic Men Chicago Southland reblogged this on Catholic Men Chicago Southland and commented: Marriage Gems is a blog with value information for Catholic Men. If you have a favorite site that fosters “Living the Goodness of a Catholic Man” let CMCS know and we’ll reblog it.

  2. Have you considered another possibility as why men could appear to be happier in their marriages than women? Some men indulge in “having their cake and eating it, too” …if you get my drift. These tactics often hold far more complications and negative ramifications for women.

    • A mysterious statement — “have their cake and eat it too.” Shall we just read your mind about what that means?

    • Statistically, women cheat as much if not more than men. Women seem to always want to be the victim in every situation. But then also want to be deified and deemed equal if not superior to men. You’re no deity and you wont be worshiped. Get a life an learn to support rather than deriving your full happiness and entertainment from your husband. Bring something to the table and learn to enjoy a person for who his is rather than riding his as about who is isn’t.

      • Against misogyny

        Men are more likely than women to cheat,(check your research) but the gender gap varies by age. This may have to do with the external validity of the study that you have feferred to in your post. Maybe as women increase their economic and political standing things become more equally spread. I am sorry if a woman treated you badly and you have every right to be angry . Some women just as some men- can be real jerks!

  3. Unfortunately, you’re absolutely right. That’s what I refer to above when I say: “Just because a man is happy with the situation doesn’t mean that it’s a positive environment for his wife.”

  4. Another part of this is time. On average, the longer a woman is married, the happier she is. (This according to Sexual Satisfaction and Relationship Happiness in Midlife and Older Couples in Five Countries).

    Additionally, I think most men have a lower set point to be happy in their marriage because they are less relational and just don’t need as much o0r care as much. I see that as a reason, not an excuse, and I think men need to step up and make sure she is happy too!

  5. Very interesting about the time aspect. I’d love to see a copy of that study if you have it. I do agree men tend to be more easily satisfied relationally. Thanks!

  6. Lori,
    Great topic. We believe expectations are a key reason women are less likely to be happy in the marriage. This is why we have been giving Paul Tripp’s book, What Did You Expect? away each month on our blog. It is one of those books you must read and re-read. At first, I thought how can you have an entire book on expectations in marriage? All I can say is, we couldn’t put it down. If more couples who are getting married or just got married would read this and apply it, there would be less unhappy couples leading to divorce. It is well-worth your read.
    Debi – The Romantic Vineyard

  7. Thanks for the tip!

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  9. Perhaps many times it has to do with the fact that a woman is home all day and sees the soap operas ( which often are a form of porn). This will certainly create some unrealistic expectations.

  10. Interesting article. As a man, I have fewer expectations and really don’t look for my woman to complete me. I learned long ago how to be happy alone, so when I got to dating age of around 14-15, I never looked for a girl to make me happy. I guess that comes from a mother who made sure we always knew how to entertain ourselves, read a book, go to a movie, watch tv, and just play outside with friends or go to the playground alone if need be. The same hold true in relationships, I guess. It is nice to be with a partner for love and sex, but the constant need to reassure a woman gets to be draining after a while since not that many women are comfortable being with themsleves, and try to fulfill themselves in a relationship. I think for men the problem may start when they are just kids. If my mom had told me to go out and make a lot of friends, and bond with others, myself and other men would be better mates for women, but honestly? men are low maintenance people, generally speaking, and we want to be loved just a much as a woman, but don’t need all the talk, and reassurance to keep a relationship going.

    • Against misogyny

      Some may say that it has to do with biochemistry and brain differences . Women are (nomothetically speaking) more verbal-not necessarily a bad thing or ineptness in emotional need as you have suggested. If you find me loquacious (needy) I would be happy to define words for you!

  11. Thanks for a man’s perspective!

  12. I see the word(s) “unreal expectations” and “expections” have been quoted frequently in this post. Perhaps it would be helpful to define what exactly is meant by an “unreal expectation” or an “expection.”

    Is it possible that there are … ‘reasonable’ expectations, just as there are unreasonable ones? Of course there are right?

    • Maybe, maybe not. Please read this post about marriage expectations from someone who learned the hard way about this very question: https://marriagegems.com/2011/06/06/what-if-today-were-your-last-day-with-your-spouse/
      She certainly changed some of my thoughts on the matter.

      • Thanks Lori, I appreciated the link and I did read it. This is what I was referring to when I asked about the dividing line between an expectation and an unreal or unreasonable expectation.

        It is sad that Patty had to experience such a traumatic life altering crisis to learn, I’m sure it was devastating for her and her family. However, to expect anyone to swallow an itemized list, at one sitting, of everything they are not doing … all the areas they are failing in; would be soul crushing. This of course is unreasonable. There are however, expectations (I believe) that are reasonable. For instance, I hear time and time again from women that their husbands don’t tell them enough, “I love you.” I am fortunate in that I don’t share this unmet need as my husband is very good at this, so I cannot imagine what this would feel like. But to me, this seems like a reasonable expectation.

        The real question then becomes, “What am I going to do now, that this need (this expectation) is not being met?” And the answer, as with all trials in life, is to seek God to find out how to navigate your soul through it.

        Or, you can wrap your fingers around your husband’s throat and squeeze and shake to try and get your expectations fulfilled. Metaphorically speaking of course.

        Also, if we are going to say that soap operas are filling women’s heads with unrealistic expectations of romance then we also need to be fair in our comparisons that most ‘guy’ flicks are filling men’s heads with unreal expectations of the lack of romance. I find that very many of the guy movies link, in an order: sex followed by no commitment followed by adventure (or violence) or an adventure/thrill scene followed by non-committal sex followed by violence.

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  15. You are correct in my estimation that the typical male movies are at least as bad at creating unrealistic expectations, too true.

    I think what you are saying is we should have high standards for how we are treated and realistic expectations. (I’m all for high standards.) Given the state of your marriage, it sounds like you have worked out something that feels right to you both. For many, though, they get what they want, then they move the needle to wanting that much more. It’s fair to ask if our expectations are in line with reality. Thanks for the discussion, and have a happy new year!

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  21. Why I left: I worked 3 jobs. He worked part-time. He refused to cook & clean and would get angry when I was too exhausted to do it. I never got a moment of alone time and the second I got in the door he wanted my full attention. Even if he had worked full-time and I could have ditched one of my jobs, I would have left because housework is work.
    In my experience, it is men who have unrealistic expectations. They want a wife who will work full-time taking 50% of the responsibility for the traditional male role while she still takes 80-100% responsibility for the traditionally female role. Of course we are not happy with this.

  22. Women in their 20s often have a vastly overrated sense of their value and think that male 8’s are in their league when the women are only 6’s or 7’s.
    Men who date women for 5 years and don’t want to marry or cohabit for a long time just complacently settling for whom they can easily get for now. It really is the settle for the 5 now until I get a bit older and have gotten more career under my belt and more confident and then go out and find a 6 that he’d actually be happy to marry.

    All that the timing wasn’t right and so on is mostly BS. They just weren’t that into her.

    That’s the hardest lesson for women to learn, that they can get sex with men that don’t love them that much, that aren’t into them, that will even stick around for a steady supply of sex and companionship for a couple years, but these men don’t love them deeply and sure as hell never intend on marrying them (though complacently sliding into marriage or kids does often happen).

    Basically half of women are fairly hypergamous (meaning they only feel strong attraction and romantic love if they guy is of somewhat higher value or better) and these women are going to struggle because their minimum threshold is too high.

  23. Against misogyny

    Lady Dee -Clearly as a woman I did not have to read your mind-I have read the research and agree with you! However, It is not only infidelity harming women but their unhappiness is associated with a lack of economic and political standing. Finally, there are frequently deficits in emotional maturity and intimacy skills found in men (as so astutely demonstrated by the comment from the pevious social misfit stating he would have to read your mind to get what you were saying.) I read the article the same way. Excusing men to continue with comments like that guys and blaming women for not controlling their emotions with “too high expectations.” I guess we can add infidelity to the list? ( FYI- for men who can’t read minds sarcasm) (Yes previous comment sarcasm again) Really? With the statistics that 1/3 women by the age of 18 is sexually assaulted in this country? Also, Community studies suggest 50% of familes experience some form of domestic violence. 1/5 married woman are raped in their marriage and some states still say it is legal! Many women want to be safe and cared for! Are those ridiculously high expectations? (FYI-for the few men that can’t read minds) that last sentence was sarcasm .

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