Extreme Marriage Experiment Says It’s Better to be Right Than Happy

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The following is an article published on http://www.hiffingtonpost.com:

“It took all of 12 days for one man to be driven crazy after he was asked by scientists to agree with everything his wife said.

Three doctors from New Zealand designed the marriage experiment — published in the tongue-in-cheek Christmas issue of the British Medical Journal — to determine whether it was more important to be right or to be happy in a relationship.

They conducted their experiment on one married couple, where the husband was instructed to do everything his wife asked him to do and to agree with everything she said — instructions which were completely unbeknownst to his wife. The researchers decided, without consulting the couple, that the husband would be designated the ‘happy’ participant, and the wife would be designated the ‘right’ participant — thereby defining happy as being agreeable. Both participants were asked to report their quality of life daily, using a scale from one to 10.

But the experiment didn’t last long. According to the authors of the study, ‘The data safety monitoring committee stopped the study because of severe adverse outcomes after 12 days. By then, the male participant found the female participant to be increasingly critical of everything he did.’

After 12 days, the man’s quality of life had fallen from a seven to a three. Conversely, the wife’s happiness raised from an eight to an eight-and-a-half, but after six days she became hostile toward the researchers recording the data and gave no more information.

‘It seems that being right is a cause of happiness, and agreeing with what one disagrees with is a cause of unhappiness,’ the researchers wrote in the study.

We’re not totally sure what this experiment proves — if anything — but at least we now know that a subservient husband does not a happy marriage make. ”

My takeaway: 

If you are someone who always has to be right and is hypercritical of others you may feel better about yourself but you will make your partner very sad. Trying to see things from another’s perspective is of key importance to overall happiness and forming healthy, long-term relationships. Another way of saying this is that relationships are like a bank: If you want to make withdraws you have to make deposits as well.

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