Sadness, worry and frustration are among the most common negative emotions reported by older adults in long-term marriages. A new study has revealed that men and women have very different emotional reactions to the strain and support they experience in marriage. The researchers said, "When a marriage has troubles, women worry. They become sad. They get frustrated. For men, it is sheer frustration and not much more."
Deborah Carr, professor at Rutgers University in New Jersey, US, said, "The men do not really want to talk about it or spend too much time thinking about it. Men often do not want to express vulnerable emotions, while women are much more comfortable expressing sadness or worry."
‘Study reveals that a strained marriage causes different emotional reactions in men and women; while women become sad men get angry.’
For the study, researchers analyzed 722 couples, married an average of 39 years. They asked the participants how their marital experience and the reactions of their spouse affected them. While talking about issues and offering support makes the wives, who traditionally feel responsible for sustaining the emotional climate of a marriage, feel good, this only frustrated the husbands who were part of the study.
Carr said, "For women, getting a lot of support from their spouse is a positive experience. The husbands in the study - who more often rated their marriages positively and reported significantly higher levels of emotional support and lower levels of marital strain than their wives - felt frustrated giving as well as receiving support. Older men, however, may feel frustrated receiving lots of support from their wife, especially if it makes them feel helpless or less competent."
The study was published in the Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences.