Wives Wield Decision Power in Marriage
Balance of Problem-Solving Power Weighs in Favor of Women
WebMD News Archive
July 9, 2007 -- Men may rule the world but women rule the roost, according a
new study that shows women wield considerably more decision-making power than
men within marriages.
Researchers found that wives, on average, displayed more power than their
husbands during problem-solving discussions, regardless of who brought up the
topic of discussion.
And it’s not simply a case of women talking more than men.
“It wasn’t just that the women were bringing up issues that weren’t being
responded to, but that the men were actually going along with what they said,”
researcher Megan Murphy, assistant professor of human development and family
studies at Iowa State University, says in a news release. “They were
communicating more powerful messages, and men were responding to those messages
by agreeing or giving in.”
“There’s been research that suggests that’s a marker of a healthy marriage -
that men accept influence from their wives,” Murphy says.
Women Have Marriage Power
The study involved 72 married couples from Iowa who were observed and
evaluated while they discussed problems in their relationship of their own
choosing. The average age of the participants was about 33 and average length
of marriage was seven years.
Researchers videotaped the discussions and then coded the couple’s behaviors
according to a widely used interaction rating system.
The results showed that women appeared to have more power during the
discussions in the form of domineering and dominant behaviors than their
husbands, regardless of who brought up the topic.
Researchers say the findings contradict the current societal power
“This study at least suggests that the marriage is a place where women can
exert some power,” researcher David Vogel, PhD, associate professor of
psychology at Iowa State, says in the release. “Whether or not it’s because of
changing societal roles, we don’t know. But they are, at least, taking
responsibility and power in these relationships.”
The study appears in the Journal of Counseling Psychology.
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