There are many factors that explain why some are happily married while others aren’t. And now, science suggests that possession of certain personality traits may play a significant role in marital satisfaction.
According to Fusion, a recent study, which was published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, examined the correlation between personality traits and happiness levels before and after marriage. Researchers differentiated between personalities by using the Big Five scale, which identifies people’s personalities by “agreeableness, extraversion, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness.”
Initially, researchers found that women who married during the study started out happier than those who never married, which supports previous research that suggests happier people are generally more likely to marry. The year leading up to the marriage, the life satisfaction of these women increased; however, their life satisfaction tended to decline gradually once they were actually married. Men also experienced a decline in satisfaction after saying “I do,” but they experienced this decline a lot sooner than women did.
The good news is that not everyone experienced a similar rate of decline, and apparently, this is where the personality traits come in. Women who scored highly conscientiousness scale—in other words, they think of themselves as “more thorough, careful, and vigilant in life” and women who scored low on the extraversion scale—”meaning: they consider themselves introverted”—were more likely to “sustain” the life satisfaction levels they had prior to getting married.
Interestingly, researchers wrote that “women who scored themselves as moderately low on conscientiousness quickly experienced falls in life satisfaction,” adding: “After some years, the life satisfaction levels of those moderately low in conscientious are similar to those that remained single throughout the study.”
As for the guys, researchers saw that guys who rate highly on the extraversion scale were more likely to maintain happiness levels for longer periods of time.
“Whilst all men experience a pre-marital increase in their life satisfaction, men that are extraverted seem to experience longer-term benefits to their life satisfaction during marriage. Introverted men, however, experience significant drops in their life satisfaction that result in them being approximately 0.20 SD lower in life satisfaction than those who never marry,” the authors wrote.
When attempting to explain these correlations, researchers reason that conscientious women likely “prioritize the success of their relationships” and in turn, enjoy their marriages more.
“Such a result might be explained by the tendency for conscientious individuals to place more value on relationship goals and therefore, conscientious individuals may strive harder to ensure success,” the wrote.
Researchers arrived at their results after pouring over data collected from 2,015 individuals before and after tying the knot as a part of the German Socio-Economic Panel study. Participants were surveyed each year from 2005 to 2012. 468 participants married for the first time and remained married during those eight years. They were the focus of the study.