Well, this seems a little one-sided: A man's good health and positive personality may be the secret to a happy relationship, according to a new study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family.
For this study, researchers from the University of Chicago surveyed 953 older couples (ages 63 to 90) that were either married or cohabitating for a long period of time (the average relationship length was 39 years). The team interviewed the men and women to gauge how each gender thought about their individual relationships.
Get this: When men were in good health and had upbeat personalities, women reported fewer relationship conflictsÃ¢â‚¬”such as feeling annoyed or criticizing each otherÃ¢â‚¬”than if the men were sick and withdrawn. But surprisingly, men didn't report a difference in their relationship quality depending on the woman's personality or health (good or bad).
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So what's up with this bizarre association? It might be the case that women tend to take on the role of caregivers within families, says lead study author James Iveniuk, a Ph.D. candidate in the department of sociology at the University of Chicago. So when her partner is sick, a woman is more likely to feel the strain in the relationship. Men, on the other hand, may not be as likely to take on this caregiver role and, as a result, would be less likely to have it affect their bond. (Clearly, these guys zoned out during that whole "in sickness and in health" bit.)
So why does a guy's personality affect the bond but a woman's doesn't? Well, his disposition could play a bigger role in how the couple's fights are resolved or prevented, says Iveniuk. He explains that women tend to be the ones to bring up problems in a relationship, while previous research shows that men tend to withdraw from these discussions. However, guys with more positive personalities are more likely to communicate well with their partner and work out those relationship kinks, says Iveniuk.
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While this research is definitely interesting, we're not totally convinced that a guy's wellbeing is the sole factor in a couple's relationship happiness. And even if it is, you can't exactly control how positive and healthy your partner is. Luckily, there are plenty more secrets of super happy couplesÃ¢â‚¬”none of which involve playing nurse at a guy's bedside.
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