But when it comes to making a wife really happy, having a tall husband may be the key, according to a study.
Researchers found that the greater the height difference in a couple, the happier the wife was.
But the effect faded as the years went on, they discovered.
‘Although it has been known that women prefer tall men in mating for evolutionary reasons, no study has investigated whether a taller husband makes his wife happier,’ said researcher Kitae Sohn, from Konkuk University in Seoul, South Korea.
‘A greater height difference in a couple was positively related to the wife’s happiness.’
He added that the relationship between height and happiness ‘gradually weakened over time and entirely dissipated by 18 years of marital duration’.
‘Nevertheless, the long period of the dissipation indicates a powerful impact of male height on women’s psychology, probably prepared by evolution,’ he said.
Dr Sohn, who analyzed data from 7,850 women collected from a long-term population survey, said there could be many reasons why a taller man was linked to a happier wife.
‘One is the intrinsic value of height; that is, women simply like tall men, while unable to say why,’ he wrote in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.
‘This is similar to people favoring fatty, salty, and sugary foods without knowing exactly why: such foods are essential to survival but were scarce as humans evolved – hence craving such foods increased reproductive fitness in the past.
‘Similarly, the female preference for male height increased women’s reproductive fitness.’
And he suggested various scenarios as to why height would lose its influence over time.
For example, the wife ‘might get used to her husband’s height and its correlates such as physical attractiveness and strength’, he said.
Or she ‘might lose her characteristics that enabled her to marry her tall husband, such as beauty; the loss could cause her unhappiness directly or indirectly by changing her husband’s behaviour, such as showing less affection to her, more affection to other women, and providing less childcare’, he said.
Women evolved to prefer tall men because they were perceived to be stronger, ‘and naturally they are happy when they have what they like’, he concluded.
‘But as for other desired objects, pleasure from having them dissipates. What was surprising is that the complete dissipation took 18 years.’