Marriage

Why Do Married Couples Fight Over Room Temperature?

Married couple hands feeling the heat from a furnace

 

When winter starts, the battle for heating, like vloerverwarming Amsterdam, also begins. The front line often runs between man and woman – and according to studies reveals a lot about their marriage.

She sits on the couch in a wool sweater, he in a T-shirt. She turns up the heater, he goes down. What sounds like a cliché can only be confirmed by science. “Men simply have more muscle mass than women,” explains Hamburg endocrinologist Martin Merkel. As a result, they produce more heat.

Apart from that, the female skin is thinner and therefore more sensitive to cold. In return, women were equipped with a higher percentage of fat than men. However, it is conceivable that women have starved away this insulating layer over time due to the current ideal of beauty, says Angela Merkel.

Women are more likely to feel uncomfortable with the temperature

And so the heating house blessing often hangs crooked. Researchers are already talking about “thermostat wars”, i.e. wars over heating. According to a study by Ohio State University, the heater reflects how married couples deal with conflict in their relationship. In the study, 112 households were asked to keep a daily diary of how they used the thermostat. The men were more likely to state that they had agreed on the temperature or had found a compromise, while the women had noted a little more conflicts.

The difference in this view could be because women are less likely to assert themselves in conflicts – women could therefore interpret something as a conflict that men see as a compromise. Overall, the study has shown that women are more likely to feel uncomfortable with temperature. “It could be that women are losing the battle over the thermostat,” says the study’s lead author, Nicole Sintov. The fact that something was generally changed in the room temperature happened more after an actual compromise – less often after an open conflict.

 

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Freezing can help you lose weight

However, there are good reasons for a slightly lower temperature. If you lower the heating by only one degree, you save six percent of the heating costs, as the energy expert from the consumer center North Rhine-Westphalia, Reinhard Loch, announces. Quite apart from the effects on the climate: On average, every German produces around 1.6 tons of CO2 per year just for heating, according to the Federal Environment Agency. Accordingly, the share of heating in the total CO2 footprint is currently just under 14 percent.

Under certain circumstances, freezing can even help you lose weight. Because brown fat is activated by cold. This works like “a hot water bottle from the inside,” says endocrinologist Merkel. This consumes energy and reduces weight.

What heating behavior says about your marriage

So it looks bad for the frostbite. At least in the office, however, there is an argument for raising the heating for women: Agne Kajackaite from the Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB) and a colleague have found evidence that the room temperature is not only a question of the feel-good factor but can also decide on performance.

While men can concentrate best at temperatures around 20 degrees, women-only perform at peak levels above 30 degrees. According to the authors, the increase in women seems to be because they gave more answers as the heat increased – i.e. possibly exerted themselves more, as the study shows. Men, on the other hand, created fewer questions with increasing warmth.

But what is the solution when it’s not about work, but about one sweating and the other freezing on the couch? For the Berlin psychologist Wolfgang Krüger, the matter is clear: “We have a tendency to resolve conflicts in partnerships – but only if you are satisfied with the emotional balance in the partnership.” If you are otherwise satisfied, you are more likely to find a compromise – and put on a sweater, for example.

 

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