Are extrovert wives happier in their marriages?
Straight up, the answer is Yes. Because, excuse the jaded phrase, the research says so.
To understand the research findings, first you need to know what makes introverts and extroverts different? It’s my personal take that there are no pure-blood ambiverts. Ambiverts are actually introverts who learned extroverted ways to navigate through an extroverted world. So, while they are as raucous extroverts by the world, deep down they are just “quiet” introverts. Introverts and extroverts do not live at the extreme ends of the personality scale. There are always some shades of gray.
How Do Extroverts Differ From Introverts?
Most of those you know may be extroverts and there is a high probability that you’re one.
Extroverts talk more, they laugh more, they surprise us more often. Extroverts are more friendly, enthusiastic, thrill-seeking, and act-now-think-later (instant gratification) types. They open up to people more easily, and you often find them talking to you about what’s going on in their minds. You will rarely find them sitting or doing things alone. People are their life-blood. The outer world is their breath-air.
Did you know that extroverts are happier than introverts, and this effect stretches over decades?
And the introverts, you know them too. That wallflower friend of yours, yes. That kid in your class who’s always lost in thoughts, yes. That guy who enters the party late and slips out early unnoticed, yes. Often described as a private person, yes.
You see them poring over their mobile screens with way too much fascination. Up close, you find that they’re usually not chatting with their online friends. Rather, they are reading something or playing a brain game. They just don’t make the small talk. In fact, what irritates them to no end is meaningless conversations.
It’s the wiring in their brains. In 1997, the British psychologist Hans Eysenck said the main reason for the differences between introverts and extroverts is in how their brains get aroused.
Introvert brains get aroused without much effort. By nature, they process more information per second. Now, one’s brain can process only finite chunks of information over a certain time. So, when there is too much noise to process, the introverts become overwhelmed. Once that happens, they tend to shut out the outside world and seek out time alone – to focus inwards. The extroverts, however, don’t spark up fast. They have to reach out for stimulating environments to arouse themselves. They thrive in situations where there is a lot of stimuli – voices, music, chatter. It makes them feel home. Because their brains process less amounts of external data per second. So they need loads of stimuli from their surroundings – to feel alive.
The Lemon Juice
A famous lemon juice experiment in 1964 showed that an introvert salivates more than an extrovert when their tongue gets a few drops of lemon juice. Psychologists concluded introverts get more aroused with the same load of stimuli than extroverts. Find out more on how the brains of introverts differ from those of extroverts.
Let’s jump back to our primary question:
Do Extrovert Women Have Happier Marriages?
This is a recent research coming out of Iran. Four psychologists from two universities came together to publish their findings in May 2016. They gathered 92 married working women from Shiraz welfare organization. The participants had no history of divorce or separation, and aged between 25 to 45 years. To remove any bias, the researchers chose them at random.
The psychologists Somayeh Tahmasebi, Baratali Maleki, Masumeh Rezayi Aval, Fereshte Tahmasebi gave them a long test, with 4 sets of questions.
- The first, Demographic set, asked them about their age, salary, education, years of marriage, and number of children.
- The second set was the ENRICH (Evaluating & Nurturing Relationship Issues, Communication, Happiness) inventory. This is an exhaustive set of 125 questions on 14 different scales – as marital satisfaction, financial issues, personality, sexual relationships, friends and relatives, conflict solving, and others. The ENRICH can differentiate between the happy married couples and the unhappy ones with an accuracy of 85-95%. If you want to find out how satisfied you’re in your marriages, you could take the ENRICH/PREPARE online assessment.
- The third set was Eysenck Personality Questionnaire (EPQ) with 57 questions. The EPQ measures the extroversion/introversion and neuroticism/stability aspects of personality. It also has a lie-detector scale. What is neuroticism? It is emotionality, or emotional instability. Neurotic people are quick to get nervous or upset under pressure. They are also less happy in their relationships.
- The fourth set was the Ahvaz Perfectionism Scale, of 27 questions. They included this because perfectionism is one of the factors that contributes to marriage satisfaction (this study).
They found “there is a significant positive relationship between extrovert personality and marital satisfaction of women employees.” You may read it as – the more extroverted a working woman, the higher her satisfaction in a marriage. And the less extroverted an employed woman, the lower her chances of marital happiness.
Now, these psychologists were not the only ones to reach this conclusion. An earlier study, incidentally again from Iran, concluded that the extrovert personality trait can predict marital satisfaction (Ata Shakerian, 2011). Yet another study from Iran, published in The Arab Journal of Psychiatry, emphasizes that “personality traits (extroversion included) are still the most important factor in determining marital adjustment” (Aysun Ghaemian, Javad Gholami, 2010).
Adjustment in marriage is actually an exercise of extroversion that is played out by the two partners. If two people in a marriage do not talk or share their interests with each other, how much satisfaction can there be in that bond? And when conflicts happen, as it will, do you think it would help if they were to sulk and stay silent out of their extrovert nature?
In a way, extroversion is what keeps the couple going well. Just think of that.
[This post originally appeared in Lifehack. Written by the same author.]
Marti Olsen Laney, Psy.D., is a researcher, educator, author, and psychotherapist. One of America’s foremost authorities on introversion, she speaks and leads workshops on the topic in the United States and Canada. Her book, The Introvert And Extrovert In Love, is based on scientific research. It is also based upon the authors’ personal experiences as a mixed couple — introvert Marti Olsen Laney and extrovert Michael Laney have been happily married for more than forty-two years.
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