Happy wife, happy life! Both partners are responsible for a harmonious relationship

There are some challenges that are out of people’s hands, such as financial, health and family stressors. However, there are also things they can do to strengthen their relationship.

People can, for example, avoid conflict by not criticizing their partner or being too jealous. You can do things that are positive for the relationship, such as being grateful, laughing, sharing good news, and trying new things.

People have to choose what they want to focus on, given that many things need to be balanced within and outside of relationships. To manage their lives it’s good to ask questions such as: “Is my marriage satisfying?” “Could I do more to make my relationship more satisfying?”

Women as barometers

Many laypeople and relationship experts believe that women are “barometers” for relationships. That is, the women’s opinions about their relationships predict future satisfaction more than men.

This view has several sources, including the evolutionary viewpoint that women have developed a special ability to detect when things in relationships are going well or poorly.

One explanation is gender role, and the idea of women being the ones who are in charge of relationships.

Does the research back up the barometer hypothesis?

According to popular opinion, women perceive their relationships more accurately than men. (Kelly Sikkema/Unsplash)

Test the truth

As a professor of social psychology at Carleton University and researcher who studies happiness in relationships, I was part of an international team of researchers led by University of Alberta professor of family science and couples researcher Matthew Johnson that analyzed more than 50,000 relationship-satisfaction reports to examine the validity of the old adage “happy wife, happy life.”

In one study, we recruited 900 couples of mixed gender from the local community, and monitored their relationship satisfaction daily over a period of three weeks. In another study, 3,000 mixed-gender pairs were evaluated annually over five years.

We found that the satisfaction people feel today is linked to their feelings in the future. If a person experiences higher than usual relationship satisfaction, that feeling appears to last into the following day and the following year.

We found that both men and women’s ratings of relationship satisfaction were equally powerful predictors for their own and their partner’s satisfaction with their relationship the following day, as well as the following year. Women’s judgments of future relationship state were not unique to women; men’s ratings and women’s ratings of current relationship satisfaction also had similar predictive effects.

Relationships that are satisfying

The satisfaction level of people with their relationships changes over time. Couples should reflect on their relationship, be aware of the current state and make changes.

It’s important to evaluate a relationship regularly. (Shutterstock)

If things are going well, then people should continue to invest in their relationship so that they can reap the benefits of it into the future. If a couple had a great date, they should not take a break but instead look for new ways to bond.

If, on the other hand a relationship does not go well, such as when arguments escalate or sparks have dwindled, then it’s time to change the direction of the relationship satisfaction.

Read more: Should I stay or should I go? Here are the relationship factors people ponder when deciding whether to break up

‘Happy spouse, happy house’

Our findings suggest that maintaining a healthy relationship is a joint responsibility. This supports the notion that partners are influenced by each other and shape satisfaction in romantic relationships.

The best way to summarize the relationship between gender and satisfaction is: “happy house, happy spouse.”

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