Vicki Freedman

Vicki FreedmanA man unhappy in his marriage may still report high life satisfaction if his wife reports that the marriage is good. Research featured Sept. 9 on Fox News showed that being in better-rated marriages is linked with greater life satisfaction—no great surprise. But how women feel about their marriages may matter more to that satisfaction than how husbands feel. “Older husbands and wives in better marriages are more satisfied with their lives,” said ISR researcher Vicki Freedman. “But overall life satisfaction for an unhappily married man depends on how his wife describes their relationship. If she describes their marriage as higher quality, his life satisfaction is buoyed—even if he gives the marriage a less glowing assessment.” A possible explanation for why a woman’s good report matters more than a man’s is that women often bring more emotional and practical support to a marriage, and a man would likely reap those benefits from a satisfied wife. Freedman and a colleague analyzed 2009 data from a sample of almost 400 couples who were part of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics.