According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, when wives can calm down quickly, marriages are happier. Husbands’ ability to calm down has no influence:
From the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, I’m Ira Dreyfuss with HHS HealthBeat.
This isn’t about who wins the argument – but a study of hot marital fights indicates that when the wife calms down, the couples are more happy. Researcher Lian Bloch of the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology in Palo Alto found that in a study she did at the University of California, Berkeley. She looked at data that included recorded arguments by long-time husbands and wives.
“The marriages that were the happiest were the ones in which the wives were able to calm down quickly during marital conflict.”
Bloch says calm wives were able to look constructively for ways to deal with the emotions and talk about ways to solve the problems. Happiness didn’t change if the husband calmed down quickly.
The study in the journal Emotion was supported by the National Institutes of Health.
This makes perfect sense, because men react physiologically to verbal confrontations to a far greater extent than women. Actually, women react physiologically to lack of verbal engagement. When a woman argues with a man, it reassures her, whereas the man can feel literally sick from it.
This sex difference has been found to contribute directly to marital problems, up to divorce. What happens is that the woman, feeling a need to engage for some reason, nags the man, and he feels increasingly uncomfortable, eventually clamming up and avoiding her. This leaves the woman feeling uneasy, and she starts to withdraw and look for a way out (often another man).
A local marriage counselor named John Gottman, one of the few I’d recommend, developed his entire practice around this finding. Gottman holds that the single best predictor of future divorce is a wife who shows contempt toward her husband.