July 18, 2011

Do Thinner Wives Make For Happier Marriages?

New research indicates marriages are happier when the wife is thinner than the husband.

Researchers followed 169 newlywed couples under 35-years-old for over four years and asked them to fill in two questionnaires every six months.

The scientists found happiness declined for couples of every size ratio over the course of the study.

Men who had a higher Body Mass Index than their wives were a little happier at the outset of the study than those who had the same or a lower BMI, according to the researchers.

The team also found that it is not just the husband who is happier if the wife is thinner. 

The wives whose BMI was lower than that of their husbands were significantly happier than those who had the same BMI.

The University of Tennessee researchers believe that physical attractiveness was a more important quality in a partner to younger men.

Doctoral candidate Andrea Melzer, told ABC News: "The great take-home message from our study is that women of any size can be happy in their relationships with the right partner."

"It's relative weight that matters, not absolute weight. It's not that they have to be small."

She said the weight difference was "not a guarantee to be happy" as relationships are so complex.

"The emphasis on weight is an American and European value," Susan Heitler, a couple's therapist in Denver and author of PowerOfTwoMarriage.com, told ABC News. "The finding may be very different among the black community. In Africa, weight is a sign of fertility and voluptuousness. Heavier women are prized in that culture."

The study was published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.


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