Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Rage Makes You Unhappy

The family study of the moment is by sociologists Brad Wilcox and Steven Nock. In “What's Love Got to do With It? Equality, Equity, Commitment and Women’s Marital Quality,” in the current Social Forces, they found that most married women are happiest when their husbands are emotionally engaged in the marriage. This was true regardless of whether the division of labor at home or in income was equal or not. This finding also held whether the wives described themselves as traditional or progressive.

A secondary finding was that self-described progressive wives are less happy than traditional wives, no matter what the arrangement of work and household chores. The Slate article commenting on this study, by Meghan O'Rourke, is entitled "Desperate Feminist Wives: Why wanting equality makes women unhappy." In the discussion of this article at the Family Scholars Blog, on the other hand, one respondent argued that "conservatives are happier because their circle of concern extends no farther than themselves."

A good marriage makes most people happy. If you enjoy a happy marriage, this does not mean that you are selfish. Happy marriages enable all kinds of people, left, right and center, to do good things in the world. I think "progressives" are less likely to feel happy even in a good marriage because they think they ought to feel outraged.

But the pleasure of righteous indignation comes at a cost: rage makes you unhappy.


Circe said...

You make a valid point, and it is a point that goes in all directions of the spectrum.

Feminists who are angry, and there are some, can sometimes use this as a crutch and never see the end of the tunnel, much less any light. That is not a good way to live, nor is it a good way to keep a movement dynamic and working.

On another front, there are plenty of anger magnets in the area of "family values" and people claim that they have the market on them just because they are Christians. These people are very angry, at feminists, homosexuals, "liberals" (whatever that means), women who abort or who want the choice to abort (you get my picture). They see the decline of the family, and they don't understand why these people "sin." It must be truly perplexing for people who do literal readings of the Bible to understand. The thing is that their anger is also a crutch, and in the eyes of their God, it is just as much of a sin. Judging is God's work. And, hating people--however it is done, with words, with defamation, with physical violence, and with keeping back basic rights--is VERY BAD. That kind of anger can't make people very happy either, whether it is "righteous" or not.

Rage makes "ANYONE" unhappy, whether it be progressive feminists (men or women) or every Sunday Christians.

Gruntled said...

I agree entirely with your summation. The advantage that Christianity has here is that it clearly teaches that anger is a deadly sin.

I do want to redirect one of your points, though: "Judging is God's work."

Judging people is God's work. Judging sin to be sin is everyone's work. Judgment does not entail anger, not even the judgment of sin. Jesus was the Man of Sorrows. But avoiding judgment, even to avoid anger, does not avoid sin, it just helps it fester.