Study: Power in marriage unrelated to who is breadwinner

Spouse who is more satisfied with relationship in a marriage more likely to give in to demands of his or her partner.

Wedding 248.88 aj (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
Wedding 248.88 aj
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
The spouse who is more satisfied with the relationship in a marriage is more likely to give in to the demands of his or her partner, regardless of their respective economic or educational backgrounds, according to new research published this week by Ariel University Center of Samaria. Dr. Ya'arit Bokek-Cohen examined the decision-making process of 192 Israeli couples from varied religious and socioeconomic backgrounds who were planning their annual vacations. Bokek-Cohen, marketing-area coordinator of the university's Economics and Business Administration Department, found that one of the classic views of marital power - that the partner who contributes more economically is more influential - does not really apply. Bokek-Cohen added that it was also mostly men who reported being satisfied with their marriages and giving in to their wives on key decisions. "All these findings were among the males in the study," she said. "Objective and subjective variables were not as predictable among women." Elaborating on her findings, Bokek-Cohen gave an example of a business executive husband bringing home a salary of more than NIS 50,000 a month, who turned out to be less dominant in his marriage than his wife. "The spouse who is more satisfied has much fewer alternatives [because he/she loves his/her partner so much]," Bokek-Cohen told The Jerusalem Post, adding that the findings contrasted with previous international research on relationship behavior. "That was a really big surprise for us." Bokek-Cohen said her research was the first to examine in-depth the subjective‚ or emotional, factors between a husband and wife during the decision-making process. Most previous studies, she said, focused on the objective - i.e., economic and educational - resources presented by each partner. "It was found that subjective marital power is correlated with the use of spousal influence strategies. Objective marital power does not predict the use of these strategies," wrote Bokek-Cohen in the summary of her research paper, which is set to be published abroad in the coming months. "This type of research has not been done before, because it is very difficult to measure such subjective variables, unlike measuring income or education," she explained, adding that most couples preferred to refrain from discussing personal feelings with researchers.