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If women ruled the world, some say there would be no more wars. Women are better equipped for compromise and more open to discussion, the theory goes.
However, is there a scientific basis for the different ways in which women and men argue and then make up? And does this impact how married couples get along after they’re done fighting?
New research published in the journal Emotion suggests there are some clear differences that can be distinguished.
Working with more than 80 couples who allowed their arguments to be videotaped for analysis, the research team found the length of recovery time for wives following a disagreement had a greater impact on the health of the relationship compared to a husband’s recovery time. This proved true both in the short and long term.
Researchers looked carefully at a number of factors, including facial expression, tone of voice, each spouse’s body language and the type of disagreement.
“The wife’s ability to recover from an
argument trumps that of the husband.”
In a press release, study author Lian Bloch said, “When it comes to managing negative emotion during conflict, wives really matter.”
Bloch, a psychology professor at Palo Alto University, said the wife’s ability to emotionally recover from an argument trumps that of the husband more so in relation to long-term satisfaction in the marriage for both spouses.
“Emotions such as anger and contempt can seem very threatening for couples,” Bloch said. “But our study suggests that if spouses, especially wives, are able to calm themselves, their marriages can continue to thrive.”
The participating couples were from a group of married and unmarried partners who have been studied by psychologists in various studies for more than two decades.
Study co-author Dr. Robert Levenson, of UC Berkeley, said a wife’s ability to find solutions and discuss the difficulty plays a vital role in conflict resolution.
“Ironically, this may not work so well for husbands, whose wives often criticize them for leaping into problem-solving mode too quickly,” he said.
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