One of the most annoying and destructive habits among men in particular is smoking. Despite being controlled in public places, it is rather difficult to limit the habit inside the house and around family members.
A rather unique study conducted by researchers from Tehran, Iran has looked into the degree of marital satisfaction based on a spouse’s smoking status, and how inhaling cigarette smoke impacts marital satisfaction and overall family atmosphere. Published in the Men’s Health Journal, the results showed that women with non-smoking husbands were more satisfied with their marital lives as compared to those whose husbands’ were smokers.
Smokers might think they’re looking rather impressive blowing smoke into their family’s faces; however this study provides insight into how this negative habit may be adversely affecting their marriage.
How Smoking Could Potentially Harm a Home and a Marriage
Mental health is significantly associated with an individual’s overall well-being and lifestyle habits. This is based on a variety of different factors, such as inner-wellbeing, psychosocial functioning, and most importantly, social support. A positive psychological well-being reduces the risk of developing chronic diseases which might also include risk factors for gender and sexuality. When considering the term ‘satisfaction’, psychologists consider two distinct parts: emotional satisfaction (sense of happiness and pleasure) and eudemonia (sense of independence and a purposeful interaction with life). Marital satisfaction refers to the degree of satisfaction between a married couple – feeling good about live together and having a life together after marriage – and is reflected in a man and women’s vision and embodiment of each other.
Dissatisfaction with any aspect of life can lead to long-term damaging effects on health, increasing the chances of self-harm, disability at work, cardiovascular ailments, and even suicide. Among the different forms of dissatisfaction is marital discontent, which can lead to feelings of depression, anxiety and frustration. Many social scientists claim that marital discontent is among the central reasons of why most marriages fail, and it not only impacts the socio-psychological status of the couple, but also has long-lasting negative psychological effects on children and adolescents.
On a separate note, inhaling cigarette smoke, either directly or indirectly, involves the inhalation of various toxic cancer-causing chemicals. Studies have shown that 50,000 are attributed to exposure to secondhand smoke every year. Children exposed to third-hand cigarette smoke by a family member or via the environment are potentially at risk of developing various cardiovascular and respiratory ailments. Smoking inside the house causes toxins to stay in the environment for several months, making it an extremely hazardous living space. Very few studies have investigated the psychological effects of smoking on marital lives. As is often reported in psychiatric counseling sessions, most women do not prefer men who smoke. This may also lead to the association that women dislike their husbands’ smoking.
Hence, researchers decided to cross-examine the level of satisfaction of women who were unwillingly exposed to their spouse’s cigarette smoke. Identifying such micro-factors that might influence marital satisfaction can potentially lead to strategies that increase this type of satisfaction.
Gathering Data from Housewives
To compare the level of marital satisfaction among women with spouse’s who smoked as opposed to those who didn’t, a Marital Conflict Questionnaire (MCQ) which included a test of marital satisfaction was randomly distributed among 200 Iranian housewives whose husbands were smoking at home, and 200 Iranian housewives with non-smoking husbands, in Mahdiyeh Hospital in Tehran, Iran. To better assess a housewives satisfaction in both groups, researchers divided the questionnaire into three subgroups with regard to the degree of marital satisfaction: low, moderate, and good. A specific section on the questionnaire inquired the rate of smoking, and whether the husband smoked at home.
To adjust for any confounding variables, it was ensured that the spouses were employed and had a modest income, were not disabled and overall did not suffer from any specific illness, were not addicted to drugs, alcohol, or other stimulants, had no other husbands or wives, had at least a diploma education or a bachelor’s degree, had no prior history of infidelity or severe marital misconduct, and also had no history of mental illness, depression, or suicide.
Results Revealed: Women Prefer Men Who Do not Smoke
Clearly, women with non-smoking husbands showed a higher level of marital satisfaction as compared to women with smoking husbands. Dividing the results of the questionnaire based on the three subgroups of marital satisfaction, it was seen that in the non-passive smoker group, the low subgroup, moderate subgroup and good subgroup was 0.05%, 39.8% and 59.7% respectively. In the passive smoker group, percentages of marital satisfaction in the low subgroup, moderate subgroup and good subgroup were 2.5%, 61.8%, and 35.7% respectively.
Results of the study clearly demonstrate that inhaling cigarette smoke can lead to marital dissatisfaction, particularly in women, due to its negative effects on family foundations and the overall well-being of family members. Moreover, smoking is a gateway to other adverse lifestyle habits, such as drug abuse and alcohol, along with various psychosocial issues. Hence, smokers must be aware that what simply appears to be a ‘bad habit’ could potentially damage their married and familial life, along with the health and psychological well-being of their family and loved ones.