When your husband has left his socks on the floor like an emancipated Christmas decoration for the umpteenth time, or proceeds to empty the dishwasher with so much clanking it turns your nerves to raw wires, it can be tempting to yell: why can't he just do what he's told?

But the results of a new study reveals that the key to marital harmony is not necessarily agreeing to everything your other half says. In fact, it can have quite serious results.

Researchers at the University of Auckland wanted to find out if the secret to a happy marriage was due to doing what your partner wanted most of the time or doing what you felt was right.


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The study, which involved a New Zealand couple, had to be abandoned before the 12 day period because the man fell into a deep depression as a result of the exercise.

The key variable was that even if the man believed his wife was wrong, he still had to fully agree and do what she asked.

The situation had become intolerable by day 12,” said Professor Bruce Arroll, “By then the male participant found the female to be increasingly critical of everything he did.

“He sat on the end of their bed, made her a cup of tea, and said as much. He explained the trial and then contacted the Data Safety Monitoring committee who terminated the trial immediately.”

Before the study, the man had told researchers that being happy was more important to him than being right. The woman was not informed about the study - instead she was just asked to record her quality of life.

When they examined the results, they found the man’s quality of life dipped from a fairly happy seven out of 10 to a miserable three out of 10 in just 12 days. The woman's happiness increased by half a point to 8.5, which demonstrates that having a partner who agrees with you all the time isn't necessarily the greatest either.

Interestingly, they found that the woman became hostile about having to record her quality of life halfway through. She also abandoned her contribution to the project.

Researchers said: “It seems that being right is a cause of happiness, and agreeing with what one disagrees with is a cause of unhappiness. The availability of unbridled power adversely affects the quality of life of those on the receiving end."

Time.com added: The researchers also noted that this was further proof that if given too much power, humans tend to “assume the alpha position and, as with chimpanzees, they become very aggressive and dangerous.”

The couple who took part in the experiment are now reconciled.

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