Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Wives matter more when it comes to calming down marital conflicts

Date:
November 4, 2013
Source:
University of California - Berkeley
Summary:
Marriage can be a battlefield. But a new study has found that, when it comes to keeping the peace, it's more important for wives -- than for husbands -- to calm down after a heated argument.

Marriage can be a battlefield. But a new study conducted at UC Berkeley has found that, when it comes to keeping the peace, it's more important for wives than for husbands to calm down after a heated argument.

While both spouses were equally able to cool down during conflicts, the husbands' emotional regulation had little or no bearing on long-term marital satisfaction, according to the study's findings published online Nov. 4 in the journal Emotion.

"When it comes to managing negative emotion during conflict, wives really matter," said psychologist Lian Bloch, lead author of the study, which she conducted during doctoral and postdoctoral studies at Berkeley and Stanford. She is currently an assistant professor at the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology in a joint doctoral program taught by faculty at Stanford University and Palo Alto University.

Bloch and fellow researchers at Berkeley and Northwestern University analyzed videotaped interactions of more than 80 middle-aged and older heterosexual couples, focusing on how they recovered from disagreements. Time and again they found 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.

While it is commonly held that women play the role of caretaker and peacemaker in relationships, the study is among the first to reveal this dynamic in action over a long period of time, researchers point out. Results show that the link between the wives' ability to control emotions and higher marital satisfaction was most evident when women used "constructive communication" to temper disagreements.

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

The study is one of several led by Levenson, who looks at the inner workings of long-term marriages. Participants are part of a cohort of 156 heterosexual couples in the San Francisco Bay Area whose relationships Levenson and fellow researchers have tracked since 1989.

Every five years, the couples come to Levenson's lab at Berkeley to report on their marital satisfaction and to discuss areas of conflict in their relationships. Researchers code their conversations based on facial expressions, body language, tone of voice and topic of discussion.

In this latest look at the emotional forces at play in long-term marriages, researchers pinpointed the most negative peaks in the couple's conversations and timed how long it took spouses to recover based on their body language, facial expressions, and emotional and physiological responses.

Claudia Haase, a coauthor of the study and an assistant professor of human development and social policy at Northwestern, noted that age may also play a role in how couples interact when conflicts arise.

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


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - Berkeley. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Lian Bloch, Claudia M. Haase, Robert W. Levenson. Emotion Regulation Predicts Marital Satisfaction: More Than a Wives’ Tale.. Emotion, 2013; DOI: 10.1037/a0034272

Cite This Page:

University of California - Berkeley. "Wives matter more when it comes to calming down marital conflicts." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 November 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131104152752.htm>.
University of California - Berkeley. (2013, November 4). Wives matter more when it comes to calming down marital conflicts. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131104152752.htm
University of California - Berkeley. "Wives matter more when it comes to calming down marital conflicts." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131104152752.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) A new study says the season you're born in can determine your temperament — and one season has a surprising outcome. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Court Ruling Means Kids' Online Activity Could Be On Parents

Court Ruling Means Kids' Online Activity Could Be On Parents

Newsy (Oct. 17, 2014) In a ruling attorneys for both sides agreed was a first of its kind, a Georgia appeals court said parents can be held liable for what kids put online. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Foods To Boost Your Mood

The Best Foods To Boost Your Mood

Buzz60 (Oct. 17, 2014) Feeling down? Reach for the refrigerator, not the medicine cabinet! TC Newman (@PurpleTCNewman) shares some of the best foods to boost your mood. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
You Can Get Addicted To Google Glass, Apparently

You Can Get Addicted To Google Glass, Apparently

Newsy (Oct. 15, 2014) Researchers claim they’ve diagnosed the first example of the disorder in a 31-year-old U.S. Navy serviceman. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins