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.


  1. Apollonia
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    This makes married lesbian couples with children who are accepted within their church the luckiest women! Thanks, Maggie!!!

  2. Ash
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    Thanks, Maggie for another interesting and lovely read! 🙂

    Thanks, Apollonia for being another SSMer who jumps to try to generalize the findings of a study to same-sex couples, though they were not a part of the sample. You must not have seen the repeated references to wives AND husbands. So, in short, thanks for not reading the article, but rushing to make a comment and embarrassing yourself!!

  3. SC Guy
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    Apollonia, what a disgusting thing to say.

    As for the article, I think that it shows that a mother being able to stay home with their children will find a lot more happiness than those who farm their kids out to daycare, etc. A very positive article indeed!

    Personally, however, I admire Karen Santorum much more. I don't think that Mrs. Romney's life is something that we can identify with because of their extravagant wealth, artificial life and her husband's unbecoming behavior and dishonesty. He reminds me too much of tricky Dicky Nixon.

  4. Louis E.
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    Since I am not religious and could not be comfortable with a wife who was,Maggie is saying I'd make a woman unhappy?

    (I'm as anti-SSM as anyone but need to take exception sometimes with what fellow SSM opponents say).

  5. Maureen
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    Wonderful article...and yes, SSMers are the great usurpers. They want what they can never really have (a true marriage) because they don't have what it really takes (a spouse of the opposite sex). It's all about what they want, and not about what is true...

  6. Ed Murray
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Permalink


    But wait a sec...your biological parents were not a same sex couple!

  7. Barb Chamberlan
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the great piece, Maggie. And thanks to Ash and Ed for pointing out what the opposition fails to comprehend.

  8. 654321
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    Very nice article! Giving brothers and sisters to ones on children must be one of the big gifts of life. As is giving them their one and only biological parents who are committed to each other in a life long (in theory) union. A union worth having a unique word put to it, such as Marriage! Men and woman couples not having children, or adopting them, come under the same word, for they symbolize the core being of that union, that is – a man and a woman! Thank you mothers and wives! Thank you parents for the example. And keep those happy children and happy wives coming. (Sorry for the touch of politics...)

  9. Pat
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, gee, people who y'all work so hard to make unhappy aren't among the happiest.
    Whodda thunk? You can't cause something and then claim it's existence as proof that you were right!
    (Also, if gays aren't part of the study, why are y'all using it against us? Really, with no evidence that people who are gay but are in the exact same situation are any different....)

  10. Ash
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    Pat, no one is using this study against gays. Maggie is simply discussing a study which shows how religiosity and the number of kids, correlate with a wife's happiness. The article had nothing to do with whether same-sex couples are happy, and it was not used by Maggie as a weapon against said couples.

    Relax! Stop being so paranoid (or self-obsessed) and assuming that everything NOM posts is about gay people!

    Read the article. You'll enjoy it. Maggie is a great writer.

  11. MIke J.
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    Apollonia, is correct. Lesbians make great moms!

  12. MIke J.
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    OT: the Susan G Komem foundation took a heavy blow and have reversed their course on Planned Parenthood after catering to the religious right.

    This was a huge message from the moderate middle. Looks like the sleeping giant is waking up.

  13. Joan
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    No, Mike J. It was a huge message from the radical left and its army of useful idiots. The whole situation is an instructive lesson on the bullying tactics of left-wing organizations.

  14. Publius
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    @SC guy
    Did you know that Ann Romney was diagnosed with MS in 1998? As very wealthy man, Governor Romney could easily have left her and found someone else younger and in better health, but he did not. I am sure you know about Bella Santorum. Senator Santorum could have left his wife and daughter after the diagnosis of his daughter’s condition, but he did not. These two men (and Presient Obama, to be fair) not only love their wives and children, they understand what it means to honor marriage vows and family obligations.

    Newt Gingrich left his second wife eight months after she was diagnosed with a condition that is a forerunner to MS. He left his first wife after she had cancer. Newt has twice as many ex-wives as the first 44 presidents combined.

    Not that I believe Newt would leave the country to be president of a younger and thinner country (Chile? Italy?) if the chance arose, but I do believe his actions reflect his instability.

  15. Publius
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    @Mike J
    It is clearly possible for a lesbian mom to love and support her children, but it is often at a significant cost to her former husband. How many lesbian moms attend church or other events with the fathers of their children or with their (generally former) husbands? What about the dads?

  16. Louis E.
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

    Mike J,the "moderate middle" is offended by claims that same-sex sexual relationships are as important to humanity as opposite-sex marriages.

  17. Jordab
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

    Louis, who gave you the right to speak for the ENTIRE moderate middle?

  18. Jordab
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

    In addition, you're pretty much saying that the fact that the moderate middle if moving toward acceptance. Which is crazy.

  19. Jordab
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

    Sorry. I meant that you said that the fact that they're moving doesn't exist. Blah.

  20. Liz
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

    I think Santorum and Palin do their families a bit of a disservice leaving them to pursue their political aspirations while the kids are still young, and special needs at that. If the spouses can pick up the slack, so be it, but I prefer an older statesman or woman who ha already given their best effort to child rearing and is now on to their own personal pursuits. It's more honest. And wiser.

    I think the facts here are solid, god-fearing families that tend to be generous in size and attitude breed happiness.

  21. GZeus
    Posted February 4, 2012 at 12:17 am | Permalink

    oh maggie....this article is very sweet. And ofcourse those things makes women happy...if that's what they always wanted. But I know plenty of women who are also very happy with their lives with none of those things. I also know a high school friend who goes to church every week, has 2 beautiful smart kids and a hard-working husband but she is miserable and confides in me how although she loves her kids and husband, she feels like she was somehow cheated by getting married and having a kid at 22. I've encouraged her to go back to school, do charity, etc but she says it's not the same. And she's right.

  22. Leo
    Posted February 4, 2012 at 2:07 am | Permalink


    Maybe she needs a counselor?

  23. SC Guy
    Posted February 4, 2012 at 2:53 am | Permalink

    @ Publius

    I understand you like Romney or are willing to accept the media line that he is a good guy. I agree that Santorum seems very family oriented as I said earlier but I just don't buy Romney and saying that he is good just because he didn't dump his wife when she got sick is pretty thin. It will be very sad indeed if he wins the GOP nomination because he so completely uninspiring and lies profusely. He strikes me as the kind of guy who could bring our nation to trouble because his extravagant wealth has insulated him from reality. I just can't support him.

  24. Toronto gal
    Posted February 4, 2012 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    If a man shows up for a family event once a week, with his wife, he is going to reassure her he is walking with on life's journey. The community support and tea and chat will keep the parents spirits up.
    I am not a religious person but religion had a place in helping the families live lives together. Women appreciate the weekly support as their husbands are less likely to be out drinking until the wee hours of the morning if they have a church service to attend where their community will be eyeing them. Great article.

  25. Daniel Peterson
    Posted February 4, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    I've never met Mitt Romney, but, as luck would have it, I happen to know several people who know him extremely well (Mormons and non-Mormons). The first thing about him that caught my attention, long before he ran for the governorship in Massachusetts, was the tone of respect, bordering on veneration, that they had when talking about him -- not just for his business acumen and smarts, but for his . . . well, goodness.

    Your view of him, SC Guy, expressed at least twice above, is both unfair and unjust. But it does help me to understand the profoundly weird primary results in South Carolina.

    For those who want a glimpse of Mitt Romney as a person, I suggest browsing for a while at a website set up by a friend of mine who has known Governor Romney for decades, and who is offended by the negative things being said (virtually without exception by people who don't know the man) about Mitt Romney's character:

  26. Tankfurdig
    Posted February 4, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    I know some wonderful lesbians who would make great parents. I know some wonderful gays who would make great parents. I know some hateful awful lesbians who should never be parents. I know some awful hateful gays who should never be parents. SO WHAT? The same argument goes for heterosexuals, also. However, biology is biology and common sense has been demonstrated over and over again that children thrive with a committed mother, a committed father, and loved siblings. Mrs. Romney and Mrs. Santorum are good examples of that, as are hundreds of thousands of other families. This article is just a re-affirmation of what human culture and human development has learned over thousands of years- yet some people just HAVE to take the principle and twist it to see how it doesn't apply to a specific individual- such as a gay person or an unhappy mother of 2. These disingenuous people really, really need to take a statistics course and get off the "misapplication of principles and stop being so self-righteous" bandwagon.

  27. TC Matthews
    Posted February 4, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    Tank, regardless of individual skill sets which vary widely in the population, the overall truth is that kids deserve to have a mom and a dad.

  28. Jonathan Goodman
    Posted February 4, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    To be clear, the National Marriage Project is a privately funded conservative think tank located at the University of Virginia. It is not a part of the university any more than the Hoover Institution is a part of Stanford. A Hoover Institution report is not a "Stanford University report".

  29. Posted February 4, 2012 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

    Ann Romney knows marriages and families are meant to last for time AND all eternity.

    I know it, too.

  30. lin
    Posted February 5, 2012 at 2:02 am | Permalink

    Pat, having four or more children is an activity that requires both a man and a woman.

    While it is possible for a second woman to take what isn't hers and bump Dad out of the picture, to do so is a selfish act. It is a form of theft - by stealing another person's child, you are also taking from your child (the one you claim to love so much) the chance to have healthy relationships with both same-sex and opposite-sex parents.

    And, no, these two relationships are not identical, nor are they interchangeable.

    Children should not be forced to do without one of life's most precious, valued relationships just so that a selfish parent can covet what is not hers.

  31. Randy E King
    Posted February 5, 2012 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

    The creation of a child requires a mother and a father. Asides from desearving government recognition of the connection of said child to their biological parents; deserve has absolutley nothing to with it.

    We the people have a solemn duty to ensure that future generations maintain a recognized connection to their biological family tree.

    These truths we use to hold to be self evident.

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