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Whose satisfaction is more important in a mixed-gender romantic relationship?

Whose satisfaction is more important in a mixed-gender romantic relationship?

Home » News » Whose satisfaction is more important in a mixed-gender romantic relationship?

Whose satisfaction is more important in a mixed-gender romantic relationship?

York U co-author of new study says ‘Happy spouse, happy house’ is more accurate than age-old adage ‘happy wife, happy life’

TORONTO, August 29, 2022 – Changes in your relationship satisfaction today are linked to how satisfied you will feel down the road, says York University Psychology Professor Amy Muise, who recently co-authored a study examining man-woman partnerships for satisfaction levels by analyzing daily diaries and other data collected over several years.

Image of a couple
Your relationship satisfaction today defines how satisfied you will feel down the road: York U Psychology Professor Amy Muise

Findings of the international study recently published in the journal PNAS, Women and Men are the Barometers of Relationships: Testing the Predictive Power of Women’s and Men’s Relationship Satisfaction, challenge the idea that women’s perceptions about their relationship are more consequential than men’s, highlighting that partners influence each other in romantic relationships.

“We found that men’s and women’s relationship satisfaction were equally strong predictors of their own, and their partner’s, next-day and next-year satisfaction,” says Muise, who was among the international team of researchers that analyzed more than 50,000 relationship-satisfaction reports including a study of daily reports for up to 21 days by 901 mixed-gender couples, and another study of 3,405 mixed-gender couples’ reports, assessed annually across five years.

The first study combined nine daily diary data sets from Canada and the United States – adding up to 29,541 daily reports of relationship satisfaction. The second study analyzed five annual waves of data from the German Family Panel (pairfam), surveying 3,405 mixed-gender couples who provided 21,115 relationship-satisfaction reports.

“Results underscore the interdependence of romantic partners’ satisfaction and indicate that both men and women jointly shape romantic relationship satisfaction,” adds Muise.

The idea that women are the ‘barometers’ of relationships — that women’s relationship judgments are more predictive of partners’ future relationship satisfaction than men’s judgments — is a long-held view among laypeople and relationship researchers but it had not been directly tested, which is what led to the aforementioned study.

Based on their findings, it is time to retire the phrase ‘happy wife, happy life’ and instead use ‘happy spouse, happy house.’

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York University is a modern, multi-campus, urban university located in Toronto, Ontario. Backed by a diverse group of students, faculty, staff, alumni and partners, we bring a uniquely global perspective to help solve societal challenges, drive positive change and prepare our students for success. York's fully bilingual Glendon Campus is home to Southern Ontario's Centre of Excellence for French Language and Bilingual Postsecondary Education. York’s campuses in Costa Rica and India offer students exceptional transnational learning opportunities and innovative programs. Together, we can make things right for our communities, our planet, and our future. 

Media Contact:

Gloria Suhasini, York University Media Relations, 647.463.4354, suhasini@yorku.ca