Study: Wives Who Are Thinner Than Their Husbands Have Happier Marriages

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Categories: Dating and Relationships


Does weight really matter when it comes to marital satisfaction? A new study suggests that it does, but not in the way some might think.   

In an effort to examine how body mass index (BMI) affects the “trajectory of marital satisfaction,” researchers followed 169 newlywed couples under the age of 35 for a total of four years. So, what did researchers discover? 

Overall, married couples are happier if the husband’s BMI exceeds that of the wife’s. Men who had a higher BMI than their wife were happier at the end of the four years, and women with a BMI lower than their husband also reported higher levels of satisfaction than women who weighed the same, or more, than their spouse.

This is good news, says Andrea Melzer, a doctoral candidate who worked on the study.

“There's a lot of pressure on women in our society to achieve an often unreachably small weight,” 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.”

While the study, published in the July issue of Social Psychological and Personality Science, didn’t examine why relative weight is important, Melzer believes sexual attraction is the key.

"One idea is that attractiveness and weight are more important to men," she said. "That might be why we see this emerging at the beginning of the marriage for husbands, and their dissatisfaction might be affecting wives' satisfaction over time."

Of course, weight isn’t the only factor in a happy marriage, and the study’s findings may not always hold true.

"The effects of relative weight could definitely change over time," Meltzer said. "As attractiveness plays less of a role, perhaps relative weight has less of an effect on satisfaction."

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