When it comes to marital satisfaction, it turns out women are in the driver’s seat.
A new study from researchers at the University of California, Berkeley looked at the interactions of more than 80 middle-aged and older heterosexual couples, focusing on how they recovered from disagreements. Those in marriages in which the wives calmed down quickly during an argument were found to be the happiest. What’s more, those same marriages were shown to be happiest in the long run too.
Regardless of a couple’s age, Bloch says that an important part of resolving conflict is being able to step back and take stock during a disagreement. “You don’t have to have an anger-free marriage to have a happy marriage,” she says. “By calming down emotionally instead of being caught up in the negative hot spots, couples are able to think and communicate solutions more clearly and this drives marital satisfaction.”
And, of course, communication is key for happy couples, says Teri Orbuch, PhD., professor of sociology at Oakland University, research professor at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, and a certified family and marriage and family therapist. “Wives are more bothered by conflict than husbands are, and it causes more distress to them and has ramifications for their long-term marital happiness,” Orbuch tells Yahoo Shine. Her advice? Go to bed mad. “We have all heard the opposite. But the reality is that nighttime, when we're tired and stressed out, is a terrible time to fight,” she says. “Wait until the light of day when you both have had some sleep. That way, you won't end up saying things you'll regret.”