Marriage Counselors should Warn Married Men:­ Being Happier than your Wife Could End in Divorce

May 21, 2010 by

An article in a British newspaper warned what marriage counselors have known for a long time,  that if the man of the house is less happy than his wife then the couple are much less likely to split up. On the other hand if the husband is much happier than his wife, then his wife is much more likely to leave him. The results were published in Germany in an economic report called "You Can't Be Happier Than Your Wife. Happiness Gaps and Divorce". The full paper is at this link Happiness Gap

A study by a team of economists identified a potentially disastrous phenomenon in marriage which they call "The Happiness Gap". This effect was seen only when the husband was feeling better about life than his wife. The researchers discovered that the bigger the difference in the happiness of husbands and wives the greater the risk of a break-up.

Marriage counselors often notice that when the female partner is unhappy she is more likely to start divorce proceedings. The study showed the happiness gap widened when wives were burdened with most of the housework, if they had different social backgrounds to their husbands, or if they had higher than average incomes. The gap was closed when couples were matched in social backgrounds, if they had a common religion, if the chores were shared or if the woman was a housewife, a student or retired.

Interestingly, unmarried couples reported greater gaps in happiness, with men saying that they were happier than women. Marriage counselors often see unmarried couples in which the female partner is no longer satisfied with the unmarried arrangement and wants to break up. Perhaps as singer, Beyonce, suggests, “…if you like it, put a ring on it”, to insure that the relationship will last.

Once there is a ring involved, the effort to keep both partners happy is not over. To avoid divorce and assure contentment, men and women need to both be happy in the marriage. Happiness requires good communication, affection and regular contributions into the “emotional bank account”.

For helpful relationship tips, free resources and excellent marriage counseling visit our website,
Portland Relationship Center.