Why Wives With Taller Husbands Have Happier Marriages

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couple with height difference

When you fantasized about your storybook wedding, did you picture your dream prince as much taller than you? You actually may have been on to something.

A 2016 study found that a greater height difference in a couple makes for a much happier marriage. 

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You wouldn't think that height differences would have any effect on how happy or unhappy a marriage could be, but researchers from Konkuk University in Seoul, South Korea found otherwise. A 2014 study conducted by Rice University Texas, however, believes that height matters more to women than men.

Lead researcher of the Konkuk study, Dr. Kitae Sohn, said, "Although it has been known that women prefer tall men in mating for evolutionary reasons, no study has investigated whether a taller husband makes his wife happier." Until now!

Wives with this type of husband have happier marriages study says:

There are strange things that can lead to happier marriages, so we must figure out why height is so important to women when it comes to choosing their partner. 

Why is a man's height important in a relationship?

For the Konkuk study, 7,850 women gave their height, and their partner's height, and answered a questionnaire about the status and health of their relationship. While the reason that women are attracted to tall men has been studied, what happens after the relationship is established hasn't been looked into.

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There are many reasons why a taller husband was linked to a happier wife.

Dr. Sohn said in the journal, Personality and Individual Differences, "One is the intrinsic value of height; that is, women simply like tall men, while unable to say why. This is similar to people favoring fatty, salty, and sugary foods without knowing exactly why: such foods are essential to survival but were scarce as humans evolved. Hence, craving such food increased reproductive fitness in the past. Similarly, the female preference for male height increased women's reproductive fitness."

For the Rice study, 455 men with an average height of 5' 8", and 470 women with an average height of 5' 4" were questioned throughout the United States. They found that 13.5 percent of men only wanted to be with women who were shorter than them, whereas 48.9 percent of women wanted to have a relationship with someone who is taller than them.

Michael Emerson, a Professor of Sociology, co-director of Rice's Kinder Institute for Urban Research, and co-author of the study, said, "However, our study suggests that for physical features such as height, the similarity is not the dominant rule, especially with females."

The second part of the Rice study included 54 men with an average height of 5' 9", and 131 women with an average height of 5' 4".

In this part of the study, the participants were from a United States university and they answered open-ended questions in a survey online. They found similar results in the first part of the study: 37 percent of males wanted to be with shorter females while 55 percent of women want to marry taller men.

The study suggests that this preference is because women feel protected and feminine when their partner is taller than they are.

One of the female participants a height of 5' 3" said, "As the girl, I like to feel delicate and secure at the same time. Something just feels weird in thinking about looking ‘down’ into my man’s eyes. There is also something to be said about being able to wear shoes with high heels and still being shorter. I also want to be able to hug him with my arms reaching up and around his neck.”

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Why does height not make your relationship last longer?

Since (by evolutionary standards) women had a higher quality partner, they may tend to see their relationship in a very positive light. Unfortunately, that bright view dims over time, and after 18 years, the wife is as happy as a couple of the same height or where the wife is taller.

Still, having extra happiness in a marriage for 18 years is impressive — not even Cinderella had that.

There's a caveat, of course.

Just like with any fairy tale, this extra boost of happiness that comes from a height discrepancy only lasts 18 years. But still, 18 years isn't too shabby, and not even a fairy godmother could guarantee more years of intense happiness than that.

Why does height make your marriage last longer?

George Yancey is a professor of Sociology at the University of North Texas. He's the first study's leader and believes, “The masculine ability to offer physical protection is clearly connected to the gender stereotype of men as protectors. And in a society that encourages men to be dominant and women to be submissive, having the image of tall men hovering over short women reinforces this value.”

So, height is an asset for men while being a shortfall for women because it makes them more vulnerable.

The Rice study shows that having a taller man and a shorter woman feeds into traditional societal stereotypes.

As a way we naturally evolved, women feel more comfortable when they are with someone bigger than they are. So, through our evolution, we have come to prefer men of bigger stature and presence, thus making a relationship last longer because the woman feels protected and the man's basic instinct of protection is satisfied.

Yes, there is a possibility that the love in your relationship may wane, but a relationship is not solely based on height. It isn't the only factor to take into consideration when you're looking to marry your soulmate.

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Christine Schoenwald is a writer, performer, and astrology lover. She's had articles in The Los Angeles Times, Salon, and Woman's Day.