Marriages are more satisfying when wives are thinner than their husbands

Andrea L. Meltzer, James K. Mcnulty, Sarah A. Novak, Emily A. Butler, Benjamin R. Karney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Body weight plays a significant role in attraction and relationship formation, but does it continue to shape more established relationships? The current 4-year longitudinal study of 169 newlywed couples addressed this question by examining the implications of own and partner body mass index (BMI) for the trajectory of marital satisfaction. In contrast to findings from studies of attraction and mate selection, own and partner BMI demonstrated inconsistent effects on the trajectory of satisfaction. However, consistent with predictions derived from interdependence theory, normative resource theories, and evolutionary perspectives, husbands were more satisfied initially and wives were more satisfied over time to the extent that wives had lower BMIs than their husbands, controlling for depression, income, education, and whether the relationship ended in divorce. These findings suggest that a dyadic perspective may be more appropriate than an individual one for understanding how partners' qualities shape established relationships such as marriage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)416-424
Number of pages9
JournalSocial Psychological and Personality Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2011


  • Body weight
  • Evolutionary psychology
  • Interdependence theory
  • Marriage
  • Physical attractiveness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Marriages are more satisfying when wives are thinner than their husbands'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this