What's Happening to Women's Happiness?
This creeping unhappiness can seep into all aspects of a woman's life. When the researchers asked more specific questions, such as, "How satisfied are you with your marriage?" and "How satisfied are you with the things you own?" and "How satisfied are you with your finances?" the pattern was always the same: women begin their life more satisfied than men, and wind up less satisfied. Sure, the crossover points vary a little--women's happiness with their marriage sinks below men's at age thirty-nine; their satisfaction with their finances dips at age forty-one; and by forty-four, they're more dissatisfied than men with stuff they own.
But overall, the trajectory is consistent, and consistently downhill. By the time women reach age forty-seven, they are, overall, less happy with their life than men, and the trend continues on down from there.
Of course, this doesn't mean that every individual woman becomes less happy than every individual man—we've all got our own stuff going on, and man or woman, some days we're in a happy purple haze, some days we've got the blues, and some days we even succumb to the "mean reds," as Holly Golightly called them.
Nor does it mean that this darkening outlook on life is necessarily going to afflict you. You are a unique human being, blessed with the freedom to make your own choices, and so it's completely within your power to choose a life, and a perspective on life, that becomes more fulfilling as you get older, not less. However, right now, the two trends we see in the data are real and telling:
1. Over the last few decades, women, in comparison to men, have become less happy with their lives.
2. As women get older, they get sadder.