Im Depressed: Graduate Research got me down


Hi all, It’s been a while since I have been on here, and that’s because I have been aggresively doing my Dissertation research for my Psychology Ph.D.

To quickly sum it up: Me (and 5 other students) have been interviewing married couples (around 1000) to gauge the level of comunication, the status of their relationship, the problems they see with it, and each person’s own general perception of the Marriage.

We take the couple and separate them, and tell them at first we are going to ask standard questions about themselves, and see if their spouse can guess what their reply would be. We then asked questions like:

“What do you tell your spouse when they ask you about their appearance?”

“How often do you really tell your spouse what you are thinking?”

“Do you ever lie to your spouse because you think saying what you feel will start a fight”

All in all, there are 150 questions designed to get an idea of how spouses communicate, and 1 question rating their marriage from 1 - Very happy marriage to 5 - impending divorce/separation.

All in all, I am sick at the results. :frowning:

-73% of men lie to their wife in respect to the wife’s appearance, sexual performance in bed, anger/temper issues

-62% of men routinely lie (tell their wife what she wants to hear) in order to avoid a fight (this jumps to 94.6% for couples married less than 2 years)

-54.8% of men routinely lie (tell their wife what she wants to hear) because they are afraid of the consequences. 22.3% of women stated they sometimes lie, but 81.3% of women stated they most often say what they think.

-For those men who do not routinely lie (tell their wife what she wants to hear)), 72.7% of their wives rated their marriage at 3-5 (not good). This jumps to 79.6% for couples married 5-10 years.

-For men who routinely lie (tell their wife what she wants to hear), their 68.3% of wives rate their marriage between 1-3. This jumps to 95.1% and 1-2 for couples married 2 or less years.

-66.3% of men either held back feelings, anger, or true thoughts while dating/engaged to prevent fights, or avoid angering the woman.

92.4% of women who rated their marriage at a 5 cited mental cruelty, abusive verbage, or frequent hurtful statements as a main reason. Only 11.4% of those husbands stated that they lied about their true feelings/thoughts.

Now for the kicker:

When asked the same questions, 65.4% of BOTH spouses gave different answers in the presence of the other spouse. 84.7% men!?. :frowning:

74.9% of men displayed a “precursive behavior”, hem, haw, “hmmph”, “hmmm”, “ummmm”, when they gave answers in front of their wife differeing than their alone original answers. 65.7% of women displayed behavior that is indicative that they disliked the question.

All in all it seems that when husbands start syaing what is really on their minds, things go downhill very fast. It also seems that men feel the need to “say what women want to hear” to avoid a response. It also seems that communication is near zero is many couples Marriages. The thing that caught my eye was the absolutlly astounding frequency that men lie to their wives about feelings. I cant post all the data here, but let me tell you, I have been so nauseas that I skipped dinner at a new Miller AleHouse tonight…

And when I asked DH about his feelings?

first sound out of his mouth was “Hmmmmph…”


I’m probably going to get clobbered for saying this… but I WANT my husband to tell me what I want to hear.

Me: Do I look fat in this?
Him: No. Of course not - you look great. That’s what I WANT to hear, rather than: Yes - your butt looks a bit big.

Is this homemade pie I made as good as your Moms?
Yes. It’s delicious. You are a great cook! - rather than the truth which might be: Nah… it’s not nearly as good.

Can we turn off the TV & talk for awhile?? I miss you.
“Sure… I miss you too.” Even if it’s not true… I’d rather hear that over: UGGG… you’re killing me here… WHAT’S to talk about?? I’d rather watch TV.

Forget the truth… tell me what I want to hear if it makes me happy.

Edit: My husband of 15 years just told me that he doesn’t think my butt is big, I DO make good pie and he’s willing to talk (for a bit) rather than watch TV - so he says actually he’s NOT lying.

OK- me again. I don’t believe him. I think he does tell me what I want to hear - truth or not. Which is why we’ve been happily married for 15 years. :love:


You had to do a study to figure this out?


Seems reasonable to me.

Maybe I’m not getting the point of the study. Most people, thankfully, withhold expressing their every actual and momentary feelings in many situations, and not just to their spouses. That’s called civilization. Why should spouses be the only ones to be dumped on? And there was only one question about whether they were happy?


Ok there lying and then there’s lying. Do I want my husband to tell me that I’m getting fat or sex wasn’t so great tonight? Uh…no.

Lying about where he’s spending money or if he’s having sex with other women -that would be a problem, a major one.

But little things that spare hurt feelings. Smart men figure out it’s not worth the trouble that comes along with comments like that. In most cases things that bother women don’t bother men so it’s easier to be honest with men. Women can be emotional, irrational human beings especially at certain times of the month.

There are things that most men are sensitive about, usually things related to sexual performance (and we all know about the size issue). I find it hard to believe that only 22% of women say that don’t “lie” about that. Every female friend I know has embellished at one time or another when it comes to that area.

Maybe the issue is women don’t have to lie because men don’t usually ask. How many men ask “Honey does my butt look big?” Women do ask in most cases because they want to be reassured not because they want a 100% truthful answer.

Now when it comes to the big things, things that are really important I really don’t think we have issues in that area. Sometimes it takes a while hashing it out to get to the core of the problem but after being married to my hubby almost 16 years I kind of have developed a sixth sense when something isn’t right.

So don’t lose heart. Sparing your feelings when things aren’t picture perfect comes from a good place. Your hubby loves you and he doesn’t want to hurt you (and he doesn’t want to get his head ripped of or worse deal with tears). If it was a really big deal I’m sure he would fess up.


I used to joke that “I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but…” was my husband’s code way of saying “Get ready, because I am about ready to hurt your feelings.”

I am not surprised that a lot of men have learned not to talk to their wives in a way that they talk with their friends: that is, they have learned to not be so blunt. In my generation, men were taught to not show it when somebody hurt their feelings. As a result, many of them have no idea how to tell the truth while keeping feelings in mind. They have no idea how to tell someone when* their* feelings are hurt.

Likewise, when I was growing up, girls could show they had hurt feelings, but verbal fighting was frowned upon. Girls were supposed to be “nice.” As a result, girls grew up expecting that showing that something hurt your feelings was supposed to let your friends know that you needed reassurance and comfort concerning the big picture of their remark and to teach them to either avoid the subject or to approach it with more tact in the future.

I do not know if this is true, but I read somewhere once that when it came to relationships, men’s life expectancy was increased if they were married, while women’s life expectancy was increased according to how many female friends they had. I always took this to mean that, whatever their weak points, women made pretty good friends, the kind of friends who would make life go a bit easier.

Nevertheless, most women’s relationships have rules: namely, either say something nicely or keep your mouth shut. Let’s face it: if you don’t start this exercise early in life, learning to lie is a lot easier than learning tact and how to comfort hurt feelings.

Also, keep in mind that you may have both a temporal and self-reporting bias going on. When a couple is in the midst of a bad stretch, that is, when all the gunny-sacked resentments are all being dumped out or some big dispute is raging in which honesty has been trumping kindness, they will rate their marriage as pretty dumped on and may even be more likely to rate their spouse as a nasty person. When they are in a quiet stretch of a fairly bad marriage, they may comfort themselves with the thought that their marriage is really pretty good, when none of their friends or relatives would return the same verdict.

In other words, although certainly it is discouraging to get results like that, the real meaning may not be what you think. Keep on digging! (Oh, sorry. I’m sounding like a research director who is never going to let this madness end!..always another interesting question!..Ahhhhhh!)

So, how did it go in the other direction? Did the wives of the husbands who felt their marriage was happy tell the truth about it?


interesting to see those stats laid out, OP


Lol, that was the same thing I was gonna say! Now I’m sure your dissertation is in much more detailed, etc. BUT this is what any man would expect.

Women, let’s face it. We’re men! And yes we’re going to lie about whether or not you look fat because if we said you did, then there’d be a big fight, and what’s the point of that?

Most men aren’t gonna come out and say “your butt is big” because we like our sanity. If my wife really wanted me to tell the truth she doesn’t need me, SHE can look in the mirror and tell. I think its pretty obvious, I mean it is your butt!!

Now when it comes to food, I think people have different tastes, so sometimes the wife might like it but the husband might not, so unless you come out and say “UGHHH this is HORRIBLE!” I think having a mture conversation about whether or not a particular dish is suited to your taste is allowed.

But again men are like squirrels. Don’t make any SUDDEN CHANGES becuase we’ll get frightened. Why would we pick a fight when things are smooth around the house? We may be cavemen, but we’re not idiots! :slight_smile:

Now I think your research points to something more serious and that is the level of happines within marriage, that isn’t one bit surprisingly, especially given the recent studies in which married couples now only comprise 49% of the population. Let’s face it, marriage is in trouble in america and it is obvious in your study that many people are not happy in marriage. But give me a break. Some days I’m not happy with my marriage. If my wife and I had a fight, or I’m having a rough week at work and my family life is creating added stress, I might rate my marriage at that time. But overall I am very happy.

Some men answer questions as if the question was intended to be “At this point in time how would you rate your marraige?” but they might not step back and think about their overall marriage. We’re very “in the moment” like that.

Anyways, just some thoughts. I find your study rather humerous because no guy I know is going to go out of his way to express feelings to his wife that HE KNOWS is going to start a fight (unless obviously there are serious cirucmstances like adultery, relationships, etc.)

Don’t sweat the small stuff. Good luck on your defense


rule no. 1, and we don’t need a study, gals, is Never ask a guy what he is thinking. They are not thinking. Nada. No mental process being the game on the tube or his last best golf game. you are wasting your time trying to start a conversation this way.

If DH ever told the truth about my fat butt he would not be able to talk for 6 weeks because of the wires in his jaw.


That is so true. It took my wife about 15 years to understand that I wasn’t lying to her when she asked what I was thinking about and I would answer, “nothing”. She read a book by Dave Barry where he described the phenomena perfectly. At that point, she looked at me and said “You really aren’t thinking about anything, are you?”:rotfl:




My question to you is, why did this upset you so?


Remember that no lie however small and for whatever intention is morally acceptable. However, since the appearence question is purely a subjective/opinion thing, unless you *really *believe she is unattractive and say otherwise, you can say she looks good and not be lying.




I hate to say this but I “edit the truth” with my wife in order to avoid confrontation or annoying questions. Most women like to put guys through the paces to prove a point…don’t mess with momma!!!

If a husband refuses to answer a question - interregation continues

If you say the wrong answer - her feelings are hurt, you’re in the doghouse

If you muddy the question with a vague answer - may get away with it or may not

If you tell her what she wants to hear - she is nice to you, and forgives you when you do what you want anyway because all men are just “little boys”.

But the trick is to stand your ground only on important issues and give the ol’ lady small victories on stuff like furniture, where to eat and what movie to watch.


This highlights one of the main problems in social science research: the people conducting the research are fairly young and have spent most of their adult lives in school so they don’t have enough wisdom or experience to understand the nuances of what the answers mean. And the professors are often not much help either.

And if that’s not enough, so often, the questions are not clearly worded, or groups of questions don’t really collect data where the interpretation can even be meaningful. In other words, the questions don’t really get at the heart of the matter at hand. Psychologist101, I have a graduate degree in counseling and have written a masters thesis as well (researching a population, compiling data, etc). Just the other day I filled out questionnaires about my children who are siblings of my two gifted children. With each and every question (on a scale of one to five…,) I just wondered why the researchers thought that those questions would give them the subtle answers that they are looking for: what are the siblings of gifted children really like.

In other words, I think these research projects are often designed so that the conclusions provide a simplistic, superficial understanding of the topic under study, because of the ambiquity and mystery surrounding complex human relationships usually defies a few “yes and no” questions.

What’s your thesis?


It would be interesting to know about the couples in this study:

Was this the first marriage for both?

How long have they been married?

Did they have sex before marriage?

Are they contracepting?

What is the faith/religion claimed? Do they consider themselves to be orthodox in the practice of that faith?


Great questions… (I think they answered how long they have been married, though)
Some of these marriages may not even be valid to begin with (not judging :slight_smile: )


Very interesting. I would have never guessed the stats to be what they are, but after reading everyone else’s opinions and own stories, I see it makes sense.

I think it does depend on what the “lying” is about. I’d NEVER want my husband to tell me I look fat or ugly in something or tell me my cooking stinks. That would crush me, being newly married and his own mother being an excellent cook and very crafty (which I am very limited on). However, with important stuff, lying would be awful and completely miscommunication. I would venture to say that most couples who have been married a long time, have Christ in their lives, and are reasonably happily married, do not lie about big issues, but communicate.

With that said, my husband (and I’m not sure how long this question will be part of our conversation in the future years to come) every so often asks how he can be a better husband to me (he asked this while we were dating/engaged as well minus the husband part) or if there’s anything he’s doing/saying that hurts me or I don’t like…so I can give him a reply and he genuinely wants to know. Then, I feel obligated to ask him the same, but I don’t handle criticism so well, so it’s hard… :slight_smile:


At first reading I thought you were simultaneiously affirming an absolute while making an exception.

But on second reading, it sounds like you really think the spouse really must always blurt out just what is in his mind, provided he really thinks it! This is a recipe for marital discord!


Let me get this right. You buy something new and try it on or you try a new hairstyle - you ask DH “how does this look”. It does NOT flatter you, and you WANT your husband to lie and tell you it looks good? If you cook something he hates, you want him to grin and say “yummy yummy”?

For the record, I want to know when I look bad in that color or that you did not like the recipe.

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