A study by University of Virginia sociologists W. Bradford Wilcox and Steven L. Nock finds that the single most important factor in women’s marital happiness is the level of their husbands’ emotional engagement — not money, the division of household chores or other factors. The study also finds that women whose husbands earn the lion’s share of income, who don’t work outside the home, or who share a strong commitment to lifelong marriage with their husbands report the highest levels of marital happiness — in sharp contrast to academic conventional wisdom, according to the authors. In addition, perceptions of fairness matter for married women. Women who report that the division of housework is fair are happier in their marriages than women who think that their husbands don’t do their fair share.
The study, “Whats Love Got to do With It? Equality, Equity, Commitment and Women’s Marital Quality,” appears in the March issue of Social Forces, one of the country’s most highly regarded journals of sociology. It draws on the National Survey of Families and Households, which sampled more than 5,000 couples around the United States. The study is available on line here.
A related unpublished study by Wilcox found that even women who support egalitarian ideas — those who think that men and women should both earn income and share housework equally — also are happier in their marriages when their husbands earn the lion’s share of income and when they do not work outside of the home. That study is available on line here.
Brad Wilcox | EurekAlert!
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