High up on the list of common conflicts between couples are money, sex, religion, children, commitment, communication, and… house temperature? OK, so it may not be the most serious of conflicts, but many couples do report ongoing "temperature wars" over how high to set the thermostat in their homes. One new study recently suggested that this particular conflict may reveal some greater truths about how men and women resolve conflicts at home more generally, with men's preferences often prevailing. It also suggests an alternative course of action for resolving the temperature conflict (and so many others): some good, old fashioned compromise.
The study, conducted by researchers at The Ohio State University (OSU), sought to track how couples diffuse temperature tensions as an example of "joint consumer decision-making" around the home. When asked, men were more likely to report that this decision was a compromise or agreement, while women viewed it more as a conflict. This suggests that women were ultimately less satisfied than men with the outcome of their temperature dispute.
"It's possible that women are losing the thermostat battle," said Nicole Sintov, lead author of the study and assistant professor at OSU. "The fact that we also found that women in our study were uncomfortable more often suggests that the thermal environment was not catering to their needs," she added.
Each night, participants were asked to write the answer to two prompts in a diary: "Did you or anyone else in your household adjust the thermostat in your home today? What adjustments were made and by whom?" and "Others in your home may have different thoughts about how warm or cool it is in the house. Tell us about any related discussions you had."
The responses revealed that thermostat adjustments were more likely to occur after couples came to agreements or compromises, rather than conflicts (which were more likely to lead to a stalemate). Of course, knowing that men were more likely to record agreements and compromises, this could also simply mean that more changes occurred when men requested them.
Regardless, the path forward is clear: a more egalitarian approach to resolving the temperature wars. If one day a woman puts on a sweater to warm up, the next day a man can take a shower to cool down. After all, the ability to compromise might just be the key to long term happiness at home. And for more relationship advice, check out the 50 Best Marriage Tips of All Time, According to Relationship Experts.