Women May Internalize Relationship Problems While Men Get Frustrated

Academic studies can be fascinating… and totally confusing. So we decided to strip away all of the scientific jargon and break them down for you.

The Background

Marriage is generally considered to be good for people’s psychesif the marriage is a good one, that is. Bad marriages have been shown to do the opposite, with studies suggesting that troubled long-term partnerships actually take a toll on psychological health. In a new study, researchers from Rutgers University explore this concept on a more granular level to see how specific negative emotions — sadness, frustration and worry — sparked by partners can affect a person’s wellbeing over time.

Spoiler alert: Their answer isn’t as simple as the old adage “happy wife, happy life” would have you believe.

The Setup

The researchers used data from a 2009 Panel Study of Income Dynamics, a longitudinal study of about 5,000 families. For their purposes, they singled out 722 heterosexual married couples in which both spouses were over the age of 50 and at least one spouse was over the age of 60. Participants answered survey questions about marital quality over the phone. These survey questions measured marital “support” — or how much “you can open up to your spouse if you need to talk about your worries,” “your spouse appreciates you” and “your spouse understands the way you feel about things” — as well as marital “strain” — or how much your spouse “argues with you,” “makes you feel tense” and “gets on your nerves.”

There was also a 30-minute diary component of the study in which participants reported all of the activities they’d performed with their spouse the day before and how they felt while performing three of them. The main goal of this part of —> Read More