Tag Archives: husband

Do Happier Husbands Lead to Divorce? Yes, if the Wife is Much Less Happy.

A new study called “You Can’t Be Happier than Your Wife: Happiness Gaps and Divorce” suggests that too large of a happiness gap between husbands and wives can be very problematic. It concluded when the husband is much happier than his wife, she is more apt to leave; whereas, when a wife is much happier than her husband, they are much less likely to divorce.

The study, published in Germany, used data from tens of thousands of relationships in Germany, Australia and Great Britain. The researchers (who were experts in economics and wellbeing) measured happiness indicators having to do with lifestyle satisfaction.

Since wives are much more likely to file for divorce than are husbands (two-thirds of divorces are filed by women), perhaps the result shouldn’t be surprising than when women were very unhappy they were more likely to divorce. I wanted to dig deeper to see if women were being unfair or if there seemed to be valid reasons for this discrepancy.

Researchers found the happiness gap increased when the wife handled most of the housework, if her income was higher than average, or if the husband and wife had different social backgrounds. The gap was smaller in couples where the husband and wife had similar backgrounds, shared chores, or if the wife was a housewife, student or was retired. The strongest couples had similar happiness measurements.

It seems with limited time and plenty of chores and responsibilities to go around, when one person’s lifestyle is easier, the other spouse has more on his or her plate. Sharing the load becomes important if lifestyle satisfaction is to be spread out.

Not all the couples in the study were married, and researchers found the happiness gap was “several times wider” when couples cohabited instead of married.

Team researcher Dr. Cahit Guven said the study showed that “unlike other benefits in a marriage, happiness isn’t able to be redistributed between the husband and the wife for those couples whose relationship ended with divorce.”

While I understand the conclusions, I think we should be careful about thinking we can equally divide all the responsibilities of a household to both spouses’ complete satisfaction. Keeping score can lead to resentment for one or both partners. On the other hand, particularly when both spouses are working parents, negotiation and communication about what needs to be done is critical. Asking for help in a nice way is much better than complaining about how your partner “never helps out.”

The study caused me to wonder whether the couples who ended up divorcing were less skilled at negotiating and communicating about their lifestyle needs, or whether one spouse was just unwilling to budge on contributing to the household.

What do you think about the study? And how do you think your happiness level compares with your spouses’? Does a significant gap in happiness signal signs of discontent?

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Don’t Take Your Spouse for Granted

“Hug your child every day,” is the often-repeated command of heartbroken parents who have lost a child—wishing they could have just one more opportunity to share their affection. My heart goes out to them when I see them on TV after their tragic loss. It’s a painful reminder that we should not take for granted each day with our loved ones.

Those who have lost something valuable often have important, yet simple, wisdom to share. A widowed neighbor of mine says she advised all her friends after her husband died, “to be sure to tell your spouse every day that you love them.”

Yes, tell them. Then, show them with your attitude, kindness and support. Don’t take them for granted. Don’t argue about petty, unimportant stuff that won’t matter in a week. If you want to go further in demonstrating your love, check out these ideas to show your love.

What would your life be like without your partner? Tell him or her what you appreciate and love about being married to them.

Is There a Case for Settling in Marriage?

Single women say finding a man with 80% of what they want would be “settling,” but single men say finding a woman with 80% of what they seek would be “a catch.” I’ve heard these statements before, but author Lori Gottlieb backed them up with a scientific survey. Her controversial book, Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough is not really about settling at all. It’s about women needing to have more realistic expectations of Mr. Right.

Gottlieb was a woman with ultra-high standards. She thought women should have it all and shouldn’t settle for anything less; compromise was not a part of her vocabulary. She had many prospects in her 20s and 30s, but none was good enough. Then, she found herself single and 40, the mother of a donor-conceived baby, when she realized she would have made very different choices about marriage and family if she had know what truly would make her happy. She realized the loneliness she felt was not assuaged with a child. “It was different and perhaps even compounded. It’s both single-person loneliness and the loneliness of not sharing the little moments of my son’s life with someone who cares about him as profoundly as I do.”

She realizes she hadn’t been picky about the important stuff, but rather about the trivial stuff that doesn’t matter a decade or two into marriage “when you’re more concerned about child care and contented companionship than you are about height or hairlines.”

For those of us who are married, Gottlieb seems to make a lot of sense. But when you see her interviewed on national TV, they always pair her with a young professional woman who still believes there is one perfect man out there who will make her every dream come true, or with a woman who believes a marital partner is not necessary to make a woman happy. They get hung up on the word “settle” and feel doing so would be compromising their integrity. Gottlieb has been called “an affront to the entire woman’s movement.” She’s been called desperate, but she says she is only wiser. She has a better picture of who Mr. Right is, and his name is Mr. Good Enough.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not as perfect a wife as I thought I’d be, and my dear husband has one or two flaws as well. If we looked for perfection, we wouldn’t find it. I agreed with the wife in a Washington Post article about Gottlieb’s book who said “if I had made a list of what I wanted in a husband, I would not have had the wisdom, creativity and self-awareness to create a husband as wonderfully quirky and perfect for me as my husband is.”

Still, one can argue that a woman should know what she wants in a husband. I’ve known several women who have listed out their priorities and found great men to match them. The key is to know what your deal breakers are, and to know that they are not superficial. Physical attributes can’t be counted on. Job status is not permanent. However, certain character traits, common values and goals, and similarities in faith may be important to your long-term happiness.

Gottlieb says that recognizing both she and a potential Mr. Good Enough have less-than-ideal qualities is not settling—it’s maturity. It’s the kind of maturity that admits companionship and compatibility are as important as passion. “Nothing about good enough implies that you haven’t found a true love—or in fact, a much deeper kind of love.”

If you’re married, did you have a list of must-haves before you wed? If so, were they met? Do you think women are too picky in dating? Or do you think women shouldn’t feel pressure to “settle” in such an important relationship?

Who’s Marrying for Money?

In previous generations, marriage was the path for women to find financial security. In 2010, it may be men who are receiving the economic boost for marriage.

  • American women have outpaced men in education and income growth during the last 40 years.
  • Compared to the 1970s, many of today’s husbands are married to women with earnings and education that surpass theirs.
  • More women today are married to men with incomes and education below theirs.

A Pew Research Center report focused on U.S. couples aged 30 to 44. It was the first age group in which more women than men have college degrees. It’s considered a gender reversal, because in 1970, men were generally more educated than their wives, and now the opposite is true. About half have similar education levels. Only 4% of wives in 1970 out-earned their husbands, while in 2007, 22% of wives earned more.

From 1970 to 2007, women’s incomes have increased 44%, and men’s incomes have risen just 6%. However, a gap in earnings still exists. While women in the 70s earned only 52% of what men earned, they still earn about 78% of men’s salaries. Women made further inroads in earnings due the recession, with men losing more jobs than women. Details were reported by the Associated Press.

Do you think it’s important in a marriage who has more education or who earns more money?

Little Touches Make Big Impact in Relationships

 What can NBA players teach us about relationships? More than we think.  Benedict Carey of the New York Times wrote in February about research in Mind magazine in an article called “Evidence That Little Touches Do Mean So Much.” Researchers studied touch–everything from high-fives to warm touches on the shoulder.

One research team tracked every “bump, hug and high five in a single game played by each team in the National Basketball Association early last season.” The journal Emotion is to publish the results this year, but the results are telling:

  • Good teams tended to have more touches than bad ones.
  • The league’s top two teams were the most touch-bonded teams—the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers.
  • The least touchy teams were the Sacramento Kings and Charlotte Bobcats, neither of which had good seasons.

Guys, if this doesn’t get your attention about the importance of touch, what will? There is even a scientific basis for why we need touch. “A warm touch seems to set off the release of oxytocin, a hormone that helps create a sensation of trust, and to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisole.” Women who may have high levels of stress hormones may especially crave this touch to help feel bonded. Once the stress hormones are reduced, the brain’s prefrontal areas (regulating emotion) can relax and proceed to solve problems.

“In effect, the body interprets a supportive touch as,‘I’ll share the load,’” says James A. Coan, a psychologist at the University of Virginia. “We are wired to literally share the processing load, and this is the signal we’re getting when we receive support through touch.”

Researchers also studies romantic partners, and preliminary results show the ones who touched more during interviews reported highest relationship satisfaction. While it’s unclear whether the touching or the satisfaction came first, there is certainly a correlation. For some people whose primary love language is touch, positive contact is even more important.

So, if you’re a man who feels you are sharing the load, but your wife doesn’t always respond in the way you expect, ramp up the amount of (non-sexual) touch in your home. If it doesn’t come naturally to you, here are suggestions. These are also good opportunities to increase your ratio of positive comments to negative, but even a touch alone is beneficial.

  • Give a hug before getting out of bed or starting your day.
  • Give a longer-than-usual kiss when you leave or arrive home.
  • Put your hands on her waist as she is cooking or doing dishes and kiss her cheek.
  • Touch her cheek, or stroke her hair at the end of the day.
  • Rub her shoulders when she seems tired or stressed.
  • Touch her arm when you ask about her day.
  • Sit close enough to touch or snuggle when watching TV.
  • Reach over when driving to momentarily touch her hand or shoulder.

Wives who are moms often turn to their children for positive touch. This can be helpful in releasing stress hormones, but if men are not part of this positive-touch pattern they are missing out on an important part of daily bonding. A bonded team is a successful team. Just ask the Lakers.

A soldier I interviewed said missing positive touch from his family was the most difficult part of his deployment. Do you take positive touch for granted? Do you wish you had more touch during the day? Are you surprised about the NBA study?

10 Tips for Strong Marriages

I am excited to have a guest post today at a web site dedicated to newlyweds and couples in the midst of wedding planning. I’m excited that the blog offers not only great wedding information, but marriage advice as well. After all, it’s not about one day of happiness, right? I’d love to see a trend of couples spending as much time on developing their relationship as on planning the big day.

So check out my post: 10 Tips to Help You Build a Strong Marriage. You can find it below or scroll down at shejustgotmarried.com. Consider sending it to an engaged or newly married couple you know. The ideas offer life lessons that speak to the heart of marriage, commitment and love. The web site also offers some green solutions to buy/sell gently used wedding merchandise, because how many times do you plan to use that crystal tiara anyway? Leave a comment, share your best advice to these newlyweds and wish them a lifetime of happiness! Here’s the post:

10 Tips for Strong Marriages

The dreams or memories of your big wedding day are new and bright. When you close your eyes, you can smell the roses, feel the silk and taffeta, and see the flash of the camera. But all the work of planning and investing in a successful wedding day is far less important than planning your lifelong marriage.

I’ve spent the last two years studying research about marriage and interviewing couples who have experienced some incredible highs and some devastating lows in marriage—and came out on top. I’ll share with you 10 tips to help you protect and build a strong marriage.

1. In today’s fast-paced, two-career families, traditional roles may not apply in your home. However, it’s important to continue to value your masculinity and femininity. He needs to be respected and treated as your hero; she needs to be romanced and to feel loved. Understanding the Five Love Languages can help you convey love in a way your partner can truly appreciate.

2. Spend less money than you earn. Save for emergencies. Debt will eat away at your marriage. Enough said.

3. Believe in each other. Lift each other up. Be on your spouse’s side. Encourage their dreams. Be the one your spouse can’t wait to come home to. Create a vision for your relationship for five, ten, fifteen years down the road.

4. Give your spouse five positive comments for every one negative. This 5:1 ratio has been proven in successful relationships. Frequent nagging or bickering will tear down your relationship and will probably cause him to withdraw. If you can’t find something nice to say about your spouse, he or she will probably start listening to others who offer praise or attention.

5. In our culture, individualism and freedom are paramount, but when you chose marriage you chose a different route—a route of companionship and caring, of sacrifice and loving. There will be days when you feel you are giving more than you are getting. That’s OK. On that same day, your spouse may feel like he is giving more than he is getting. Keep giving. Keep loving. That’s agape love. By focusing on your own happiness, you miss out on the chance for deeper love and deeper joy.

In his book, Take Back Your Marriage, William J. Doherty, PhD, one of the nation’s most prominent pro-marriage counselors, describes today’s “consumer marriage” in which spouses are constantly focused on “what’s in it for me” as the root cause of most marital failures. He explains how this mentality can eventually cause you to work yourselves into a divorce, even when the issue isn’t a deal-breaker.

6. Learn to better listen to one another.

7. Don’t let your arguments get out of hand. Create boundaries for fighting fair.

8. Make time for sex. I know that seems odd to say to newlyweds who are madly in love, but there will be times when passion does not rule the day. Pregnancies, careers, exhaustion, illness, job loss, hormonal issues, children—these can stand in the way of lovemaking. Sharing the intimacy of sex protects the marriage in many ways and communicates love. Happier couples have more sex.

9. Be careful with social media to ensure temptation doesn’t divide your relationship.

10. Remember your promise. Life will not be perfect with your spouse. Every relationship has strengths and weaknesses, and some problems will never be fully resolved. Focus on the positive and not the negative. Have fun. Laugh. Celebrate even small successes. Surround yourself with great influences and good role models.

Sign up at www.LifeGems4Marriage.com to receive biweekly tips to enhance your relationship. Lori Lowe has been happily married to her real-life hero for 14 years. They live in Indianapolis with their two children, a crazy cat and two aquatic frogs.

Give Thanks to Your Spouse this Thanksgiving

How do you feel when someone gives you an unexpected thank-you? Try cultivating that fuzzy feeling in others this week. As we approach Thanksgiving, everyone starts talking about giving thanks as if should be an annual event. Thanksgiving is a great reminder, but we should make showing gratitude a regular habit. Start with those closest to you–your husband or wife and other family members.

This week, tell your spouse three things you are thankful for about them. It’s a great marriage-booster. Give praise/thanks for:

1) A skill (cooking, their skill at work, how organized or handy they are, etc.)

2) A physical trait (Men need to be complimented too, especially since men don’t give each other compliments like women do.)

3) A character trait (resiliency, honesty, being calm in the face of crisis, friendly to everyone, etc.)

If you want BONUS points, praise for your spouse publicly around the Thanksgiving dinner table. After you thank your spouse, do the same for your children and parents. Make a habit of thanking people regularly for all they do for you.  If you make gratitude a regular habit, you may even find yourself thankful for adversity and challenges, as they can bring a family closer together.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving. What are you most thankful for about your spouse?

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