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Happy marriage is measured in wife’s waistline: study

What's the key to marital bliss? You might think being thin will help, but it turns out what really matters is that the wife weighs less than her husband.

In a new study published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, researchers, led by Andrea Meltzer, a University of Tennessee psychologist, found that "Husbands were more satisfied at the time of marriage, and remained more satisfied over time, to the extent that their wives had lower BMIs than their own."

"Wives who had lower BMIs than their husbands remained more satisfied over time, whereas wives who had higher BMIs than their husbands demonstrated steeper declines in their satisfaction over time," the researchers added.

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Researchers followed 165 newlywed couples for four years. Every six months, the couples filled out questionnaires to measure their level of marital satisfaction.

The research controlled for factors, including income and education.

Why could one partner's body mass index relative to the other explain marital satisfaction?

"Several studies indicate that partner thinness is more important to men than to women, possibly because BMI is more strongly correlated with women's physical attractiveness than it is with men's," the researchers said. "In contrast, because partner BMI is relatively less important to women, relative BMI may affect them only through its effect on men. That is, women who have lower BMIs than their partners should maintain higher levels of satisfaction with the relationship because their partners are more satisfied."

If this study makes you feel dirty (or is that just what happens when you're the one writing about it?) or angry, you're not the only one.

What do you think of this study?

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About the Author

Dave McGinn writes about fitness trends for the Life section and also reports for Globe Arts. Prior to joining the Globe, he was a freelance journalist, covering topics from trying to eat Michael Phelps' diet to why the Joker is the best villain in comics history. He's working on improving his 10k time. More

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