Women love getting emotional support through marital problems, but it might not come as any surprise that husbands do not appreciate it. New research looked into this significant difference between men and women. Men, as it turns out, do not even appreciate emotional support from their spouse when dealing with problems within the marriage. The older a man is, the less likely he is to appreciate any kind of emotional support when experiencing problems. Men are more likely to actually become frustrated from perceived emotional support, the study published in the Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences & Social Sciences says.
Wives generally experience emotional support from their husbands as positive when the couple faces marital problems. Husbands find emotional support from their spouses during rough times as a detriment, according to Prof. Deborah Carr from the Department of Sociology, School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers University. She and her team questioned 772 couples who had been married for an average nearly four decades.
The participants were all asked whether they felt they could discuss worries and concerns with their better half if they needed to, whether they feel appreciated by their spouse, whether their spouse understands how they are feeling, if they argue with their better half, and if their partner makes them feel frustrated or tense.
— Mental Health (@MentalHealthRR) November 1, 2015
Husbands usually reported that their marriages were higher quality than their partners did. Husbands also reported less strain in their marriages. Men also reported that they received higher levels of emotional support than their female counterparts reported. When marriage problems were reported by both a husband and wife pair, wives said they had greater feelings of worry and sadness, but that those feelings could be lessened with emotional support from their spouses. Husbands, though, reported feeling frustrated when they got emotional support during problematic times.
“Men who provide high levels of support to their wives may feel this frustration if they believe that they would rather be focusing their energies on another activity,” Prof. Carr stated, according to Medical News Today.
Alternately, Carr says that getting emotional support during hard times might make older husbands feel less competent. Perhaps, she explained, they might feel they should be able to handle any problems themselves without any outside emotional support. She speculated that the findings might also be associated with the age of the married couples in the study.
“For women, getting a lot of support from their spouse is a positive experience. Older men, however, may feel frustrated receiving lots of support from their wife, especially if it makes them feel helpless or less competent. Men often don’t want to express vulnerable emotions, while women are much more comfortable expressing sadness or worry.”
The researchers feel that this area of study is important as the Baby Boomers age and experience marital hardships, like health problems, together.
“If older men or women with dementia have reduced impulse control, they could lash out against their spouse if they’re feeling frustrated,” Prof. Carr explained. “It’s very important to keep in mind these dynamics even with long-married couples who you may not think have any problems.”
The teams says that the patterns of appreciating or becoming frustrated over emotional support during times of hardship might not be mirrored in younger married men, but it warrants further investigation.
“The general message is that support is good only if one views it as helpful and desirable,” Carr explained, according to a press release. “Most people want to feel they’re capable of managing their own life.”
This is the same team that published research indicating truth in the old saying, “happy wife, happy life,” when they showed that husbands are happier in their marriages if their wives are happy. Professor Carr is also a faculty member at the Institute for Health, Health Care Policy, and Aging Research. She also studies dying and end-of-life issues, as well as other family-related stressors. She is also the author and editor of many works. Carr says that husbands and wives generally have different reactions to both the strain and emotional support they experience in marriage. Men often don’t want to be forced to express their vulnerable emotions, and women are highly comfortable with doing so.
— Rutgers Press (@RutgersUPress) March 12, 2015
Carr says that there needs to be a middle ground among husbands and wives between marital suffocation and marital emotional support.
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