General News Research — 19 December 2013
Happy marriage study abandoned as husband becomes depressed

Agreeing to your partner’s every demand might seem like the key to a stressless life, but one husband found it left him miserable.

A study to assess whether marriage improves if a husband agrees to all his wife’s demands had to be abandoned after the man sank into a deep depression within a fortnight.

Researchers at the University of Aukland in New Zealand were hoping to test whether the key to a happy marriage lies in bowing to the whims of a partner and giving up the need to ‘always be in the right.’

In the experiment the husband was asked “agree with his wife’s every opinion and request without complaint.”  bigstockphoto_Man_In_Depression_5432510

“Even if he believed the female participant was wrong, the male was to bow and scrape,” said researchers.

But after recruiting a couple for an initial pilot they were forced to scrap the project.

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“The situation had become intolerable by day 12,” said Professor Bruce Arroll, “By then the male participant found the female to be increasingly critical of everything he did.   “He sat on the end of their bed, made her a cup of tea, and said as much. He explained the trial and then contacted the Data Safety Monitoring committee who terminated the trial immediately.”

Researchers found that during the study the man’s quality of life dipped from a relatively happy seven out of 10 to a miserable three out of 10 in just 12 days.   In contrast the woman’s happiness increased slightly from eight to 8.5 at six days.

A separate female who was being used as a control also abandoned the project after becoming ‘hostile’ that her happiness being constantly recorded.   Although the experiment was never completed, authors said their hypothesis suggested that ‘it’s better to be right than to be happy.’   They added: “It seems that being right is a cause of happiness, and agreeing with what one disagrees with is a cause of unhappiness.

“The availability of unbridled power adversely affects the quality of life of those on the receiving end.

“Many people in the world live as couples and we believe that it could be harmful for one partner to always have to agree with the other.   “However, more research is needed to see whether our results hold if it is the male who is always right.”

The study was published in the British Journal of Medicine.

This article first appeared on ‘The Telegraph’ on 18 December 2013.

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