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Wife's Emotions Matter More When Solving Marital Conflicts

Update Date: Nov 04, 2013 08:28 PM EST

Calming the wife down is more important when resolving marital conflicts, according to a new study.

Researchers explained that both spouses are equally able to cool down during conflicts. However, the husbands' emotional regulation had little or no bearing on long-term marital satisfaction.

"When it comes to managing negative emotion during conflict, wives really matter," lead researcher Lian Bloch said in a news release.

Bloch and her team analyzed the videotaped interactions of more than 80 middle-aged and older heterosexual partners and concentrated on how couples recovered from disagreements.

The findings revealed that marriages in which wives quickly calmed down during disputes were ultimately shown to be the happiest, both in the short and long run.

"Emotions such as anger and contempt can seem very threatening for couples. But our study suggests that if spouses, especially wives, are able to calm themselves, their marriages can continue to thrive," Bloch said.

"When wives discuss problems and suggest solutions, it helps couples deal with conflicts," UC Berkeley psychologist Robert W. Levenson, senior author of the study, said in a news release. "Ironically, this may not work so well for husbands, who wives often criticize for leaping into problem-solving mode too quickly," she added.

"The middle-aged and older couples in our study grew up in a world that treated men and women very differently," Levenson concluded. "It will be interesting to see how these gender dynamics play out in younger couples."

The findings are published in the journal Emotion.  

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