The study's findings revealed while both spouses were equally able to cool down during conflicts, the husbands' emotional regulation had little or no bearing on long-term marital satisfaction.
Lead author Lian Bloch and fellow researchers at Berkeley and Northwestern University analyzed videotaped interactions of more than 80 middle-aged and older heterosexual couples, focusing on how they recovered from disagreements. Time and again they found that marriages where wives quickly calmed down during disputes were shown to be the happiest, both in the short and long run.
Bloch said that emotions like anger and contempt can seem very threatening for couples.
She said that their study suggests that if spouses, especially wives, are able to calm themselves, their marriages can continue to thrive.
Results show that the link between the wives' ability to control emotions and higher marital satisfaction was most evident when women used "constructive communication" to temper disagreements.
The study has been published online in the journal Emotion.