What is the key to a happy and long-lasting marriage? It may be a combination of several factors but apparently the contentment of the wife is one of them. A new research has found that in a marital union, the odds for a happy marriage can be significantly affected by how satisfied the female partner is.

For a new study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family on Sept. 2, Deborah Carr, from the Department of Sociology and Institute for Health, Health Care Policy & Aging Research, Rutgers-The State University of New Jersey, and colleagues involved nearly 400 couples with one of the spouses at least 60 years old and who were, on average, married for 39 years.

To assess the quality of a couple's marriage, the researchers surveyed the participants for their personal feelings towards their spouse by asking them several questions such as whether or not their spouse appreciates them, understands their feeling, or argues with them. The participants were also asked to keep a diary where they were to write about how happy they were in the last 24 hours doing particular activities.

Carr and colleagues found that the couples in the study had a high level of general life satisfaction suggesting that happier marriages have something to do with better life satisfaction and happiness albeit their study involved older couples. The researchers also observed that regardless of how men feel towards the marriage, husbands tend to be happier when they have wives who are happy with their union.

"When a wife is satisfied with the marriage she tends to do a lot more for her husband, which has a positive effect on his life," Carr said.

The researchers also found that while women become less happy when their husbands get sick, men do not feel the same when their wives get sick. The researchers explained that this is due to women often giving care to their husbands when they are ill, and the situation can be stressful to the wives. When women get sick, on the other hand, it is not always their husbands they rely on but their daughters.

"One's own marital satisfaction is a sizable and significant correlate of life satisfaction and momentary happiness," Carr and colleagues wrote. "However, the association between husband's marital quality and life satisfaction is buoyed when his wife also reports a happy marriage, yet flattened when his wife reports low marital quality."

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