Maggie's Column: The Happiest Wives in America


NOM co-founder Maggie Gallagher's latest syndicated column in Human Events:

Let's take a break from politics to ask the burning question: How did Karen Santorum and Ann Romney get so lucky?

Just who are the happiest wives in America?

According to a new report by the University of Virginia's National Marriage Project, "When Baby Makes Three," the surprising answer is: women who attend church at least weekly with their husband and have four or more children.

Women like Mrs. Romney and Mrs. Santorum, in other words. This insight is embedded in a larger report whose overall purpose is to find out the factors that lead to happy and successful married families -- particularly using data from "next generation marriages," among those currently 18 to 46 years old.

Children are known to stress marital happiness, on average, but what helps some couples resist the stress and build enduring and happy married families?

Among the report's findings, some seem obvious: Married parents do better if they spend time with each other, spend time with their children, are generous in helping out one another and have a satisfying sex life.

But pro-child attitudes are also very important. Agreeing that raising children is "one of life's greatest joys" doubles the likelihood that these younger married women report being very happily married.

"We found that pronatalistic attitude is one of the top five predictors of marital happiness" for both wives and for husbands, the authors state.

Religious commitment also helps to build a happy marriage for women. Here, actions speak even louder than words. Only when husbands and wives both attend church regularly are wives more likely to be very happily married.