Are marriages stronger when one spouse is dominant?
Having a dominant spouse in a marriage may give the partnership greater stability and lead to more children, researchers claim.
A study found that relationships where either partner is more dominant may be more effective than those where there is equality.
Couples where one was more dominant had more children than those where there was equality, and researchers say improved co-operation is likely to be responsible for the trend.
According to the report, “Why do some women prefer submissive men?” published in Neuroendocrinology Letters, women were dominant in almost a quarter of relationships.
“Too often, we are told to view even mild dominance and submissiveness as a problem,’’ says Dr Eva Jozifkova who led the research.
“Our results challenge the frequently held belief in equality within couples as a trademark of functional partnerships. It rather appears that existence of some disparity, with one partner dominant, and other submissive, improves cohesion, results in better cooperation between partners and improve the couples’ ability to face challenges. They also have more children.
“In the light of these results, both excessive pressures towards equality in some modern societies, and pressures towards male dominance in some traditional societies, represent a form of oppression.’’
The research involved 340 men and women who were quizzed in depth about hierarchical structures in relationships involving friends, partners, and parents.
Results show that there were more couples where one partner was dominant than where they were equal. The people in the study reported that in 24.2 per cent of these relationships, it was the woman who was dominant.
The researchers, from Purkyne University and Charles University, Prague, and other centres found that couples where one partner, man or woman, was dominant had around 15 per cent more children. Couples where both partners were dominant had the lowest reproductive success
“If the two individuals rank at a similar degree, even minor conflicts may escalate due to competition. On the other hand, hierarchy disparity may reduce the frequency and intensity of conflicts.
“Smooth within-couple cooperation appears as more important than the gender of the higher-ranking individual.’’
The researchers emphasise that dominance does not imply violence: “Although hierarchical disparity is typical for domestic violence, a mild within-pair disparity does not imply nor incur violence per se.”
They add: “From the point of view of reproductive success, answering the question why some women are aroused by submissive men is easy. Hierarchy disparity within couples allows the parents to invest more energy into their offspring, presumably by increased cooperation and/or conflict reduction, irrespective of which gender assumes the dominant role.’’