Why Wives Complain More Than Husbands

USA TODAY, April 1998 | Go to article overview

Why Wives Complain More Than Husbands


Why are wives more likely than husbands to complain about their marriages and ask for changes in behavior? Researchers at Ohio State University, Columbus, say the reason has little to do with typical stereotypes, such as beliefs that women are more emotional or more preoccupied with their relationships.

They may make more demands because, in most marriages, they have more to gain by complaining and seek greater equity maintains David A. Smith, professor of psychology and psychiatry. Men benefit most from keeping things the way they are, and they achieve this by withdrawing from such discussions. "However, the reason has more to do with conflict resolution strategy and who has more power in a relationship than it does with psychological differences between men and women."

If women were the ones who generally had more power in marriages, the situation would be reversed -- husbands would do more complaining than wives, he suggests. In areas of the marriage where wives already have more power -- such as sex -- husbands do complain more than wives.

To explore this issue, Smith and doctoral student Nadya Klinetob videotaped 46 married couples as they discussed two problems in their relationships for 10 minutes each. One problem topic was selected by the wife, the other by the husband. …

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