New research from the University of Tennessee says that marital satisfaction is higher for men when their wives have a lower Body Mass Index (BMI) than they do. However, it isn’t the case that the lower the wives’ BMI, the happier the marriage. Women experience more marital satisfaction when their BMI is lower than their husband, although it is unclear if this satisfaction is due to the fact that their husbands are happier.
I found myself having three immediate reactions to this article.
1. Poor Sample Size
165 newlywed couples in their mid-twenties? It’s pretty difficult, in my opinion, to draw solid conclusions from this limited sample size. Of course, this is a problem that much university research has to deal with. They often use college kids, for obvious reasons, and they aren’t good representatives of the broader population.
So men are happier if their wives are smaller than they are? Someone needed research to establish this? I think the other side is more interesting – that wives are happier if they are smaller than their husbands. But this stands to reason as well. Women have a personal vision of what weight and size they prefer. This preference probably isn’t model thin, but it is certainly smaller than their mate.
3. Great News for Women Who are Starving Themselves to Look Like Actors
For some women, this research has to be a welcome sign. There is an acknowledged pressure among women to look great, and typically the benchmarks are the famous women that work in TV and film. This standard leads so many women into unnatural acts of dieting and self-denial. It’s great news that, in terms of a happy marriage, it doesn’t matter so much if you look like your favorite skinny actress.