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Marriage Happiness, Personality Linked

Posted November. 11, 2005 07:51,   


Mr. and Mrs. Lee, who have been married for five years, recently visited a clinic for married couples. Their marriage was in jeopardy because of frequent quarrels.

At the clinic, they each took a personality test, and the results showed that the wife was an active person who wanted to be recognized by others, but the husband, in contrast, was a reserved man, who liked things to be quiet and uneventful.

Before they got married, Mr. and Mrs. Lee knew about their different personalities, but they believed that in order for their marriage to be lively and fun, it was better that they were so different from each other. However, real life turned out to be the total opposite.

Mrs. Lee feels as if she is living with an emotionless “stone statue,” and on top of that, she has troubles with her in-laws, which has led to her current hypochondria problem.

The result of a survey conducted by Seoul National University’s Social Psychology Lab and the Duo Human Life Research Institute last month showed that among 280 couples, the ones who shared similar personalities, values, and thoughts about marriage conditions were more satisfied with their marriage than those who didn’t.

This research on the “psychological match” of married couples was the first of its kind conducted by Korean psychologists.

According to the survey, the factor that had the most significant influence on the level of satisfaction of marriage was personality.

In other words, whether a spouse is an extrovert or an introvert; in possession of an optimistic or pessimistic attitude towards life; likes to hang out with people or likes to be alone; or is too sensitive or not makes a big difference in the satisfaction level of a marriage.

The personality similarity of couples that belonged to the top 10% marriage satisfaction level was 0.39 (1.0 being the highest similarity and –1.0 being the lowest), but couples who belonged to the lowest 10%, showed a mere 0.06 in personal similarity. This result indicates that the happier the marriage, the similar the personalities of the couple.

In addition, social issues, including abortion, female smokers, chastity before marriage, and abolishment of the male-dominated family registration system, or “Hojuje,” also affected the satisfaction level of a marriage. Couples in the top 10% of satisfaction level showed a 0.37 similarity on these issues, while couples in the lowest 10% showed a 0.20 similarity.

In contrast to this, blood type or marital harmony predicted by a fortuneteller showed no relevance to the satisfaction level of married couples’ lives.

No matter what combination of the four blood types A, B, O, and AB, the satisfaction was similar to the average satisfaction level of all the couples surveyed.

Choi In-cheol, psychology professor at Seoul National University and head of the Duo Human Life Research Institute, said, “A psychological match does not determine marriage satisfaction alone, but the research proves to us that it is very relevant. Such psychological knowledge could help in choosing the right spouse or settling conflicts after marriage.”

Kwang-Hyun Kim Keuk-In Bae kkh@donga.com bae2150@donga.com