Key to marital happiness? Let the wife have her way

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Men might still dominate most workplaces but a study has proven what many happy couples know -- the wife runs the roost at home and the husband is happy to let her.

Johannes Hainzl and Nina Attinger kiss before their wedding on top of the Zugspitz mountain near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, July 7, 2007. Seven couples on Saturday tied their knot on Germany's highest mountain on a special date 07/07/07 which appears once in a hundred years. REUTERS/Michael Dalder

A team of researchers from Iowa State University studied 72 couples and found that the wife’s view on how to solve problems within the marriage or the home took precedence over the husband’s opinion and he was happy to accept that.

“The women were communicating more powerful messages and men were responding to those messages by agreeing or giving in,” Associate Professor of Psychology David Vogel, one of the leaders of the study, said in a statement.

The study was conducted by questioning the 72 couples who had on average been married for seven years with all the couples in the sample relatively happy in their marriages.

Each spouse was asked to independently complete a questionnaire on relationship satisfaction and an assessment of overall decision-making ability in the relationship.

Each spouse was also asked to identify a problem in their relationship then brought together to discuss the problem topics for 10 minutes with their discussions videotaped after the researchers left the room.

The researchers later reviewed and coded the videotapes of couples’ interactions using a rating system that calculates demand and withdraw behaviors -- avoidance, discussion, blame, pressure for change, and withdraws.

Vogel said that wives didn’t just talk more than their husbands in discussions, but drew favorable responses from their husbands to what they said.

“The study at least suggests that the marriage is a place where women can exert some power,” said Vogel.

“Whether or not it’s because of changing societal roles, we don’t know. But they are, at least, taking responsibility and power in these relationships.”