For Happy Marriage, His Personality May Be Key
Study looked at health, 'positivity' and other traits in older couples
An expert who was not involved with the study said its findings may also reflect women's tendency to take things personally.
Traditionally, "women are far more responsive to the feelings of others, the behavior of others. We're reared to be more sensitive to how others relate to us," said Jamila Bookwala, a professor of psychology at Lafayette College, in Easton, Pa., who also studies marital quality.
If a husband is more positive, the wife is likely to feel her marriage is much better. "If she's a grouch, he is less affected by it," she said. Men may simply be better at shrugging off perceived slights and criticisms, she suggested.
Other research has found, in general, that older men rate marriage quality higher than do older women, Bookwala said.
Couples in long-term unions might take a step back and think about whether they could do things differently to preserve or increase harmony, Bookwala and Iveniuk agreed.
"Take a look at your reaction [to conflict]," Iveniuk said. If a man's inclination is to withdraw at the first sign of trouble and leave the discussion, maybe he could stay and talk it out.
Women might realize that they tend to be more relationship focused, and also be aware that this can actually make them more vulnerable to criticism, Bookwala said.