Why marrying a smart woman is good for a man’s health

Talk about being caught between a rock and a hard place.

Research suggests that marrying an intelligent woman helps protect a man from dementia. Another study, however, says that men are terrified of smart women.

Don’t you just love science?

Apparently, pairing up with a brainy broad gives men a buffer against dementia. According to published reports, Lawrence Whalley, professor emeritus of mental health at Scotland’s University of Aberdeen, recently gave a talk on “Dementia: How Can We Protect Ourselves?” and said that men who marry an intelligent partner who provides interesting, mentally stimulating conversation could help prevent the disease. Whalley went on to liken a smart wife’s effect on a husband’s brain to writing, reading or visiting a museum.

Wow. Kinda gives you a wicked case of the feels, doesn’t it? It also begs the question: What about us women? Does marrying a smart guy confer the same neuroprotective benefits? And what about same-sex marriages? Oh, and what if a smart woman’s husband does get dementia—is that somehow her fault? But I digress.

Then there are other recent findings, published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, that say men find intelligent women scary. What’s more, when a woman does something better than a man, his sense of masculinity diminishes.

A series of six studies by researchers at universities in New York, California and Texas revealed that when evaluating hypothetical women in the next room, men showed greater attraction toward women who displayed more (vs. less) intelligence than themselves. In contrast, when the female targets were actually sitting near them, men showed less attraction toward women who outsmarted them.

In other words, the researchers deduced that while men like the idea of dating an intelligent woman, when it comes to actually doing it, they’re just not that into her. And when a woman is better at a task than they are, they feel like less of a man.

Science says men fear
smart women. Where in hell are
the test subjects from?

Trump rallies, maybe? A certain side of the aisle of the U.S. Congress? The pool of Darwin Awards winners? In fact, the participants in these studies were undergraduates at the institutions of higher learning conducting the research. Which is pretty disheartening.

I’d hoped we’d come further than this by now, and that the inability to accept women as smart, capable equals was confined largely to old white men. At the same time, I hope young women today don’t feel they have to hide their light under a bushel in order to attract a guy. As a baby boomer, I can remember when girls wouldn’t raise their hands in class for fear of appearing “too smart.” Please let those days be over.

But the good news is, when I look around at my married friends in their fifties, sixties and seventies, they’re all educated, intelligent, self-assured and insightful women—qualities which don’t seem to intimidate their husbands in the least. In fact, they seem to truly value these attributes in their wives.

If you believe the research, this bodes well for the husbands’ ongoing cognitive function. And it certainly reflects well on the men’s own healthy egos (which I’d wager is one of the things their wives found attractive in the first place).

But for guys at any age who can’t get over their fear of smart women (and my single friends who are dating at midlife have, sadly, met more than a few of them), well, it’s the guys’ loss—of stimulating companionship, a true partnership and—again, if you believe the research—their memory.

Ain’t that a bitch?

So what do you think? If you’re a woman, have you experienced rejection because you’re “too smart?” And guys, what about a smart woman appeals to you (or turns you off)? Please share…




Roxanne Jones

About Roxanne Jones

By day, Roxanne Jones is an award-winning freelance copywriter specializing in health and medicine. She launched Boomer Haiku, a humorous blog about life as a baby boomer, in 2015, and a Boomer Haiku greeting card line in 2016 (available at 6 Maine stores; visit www.boomerhaiku.com/shop/ to learn more). Born and raised in Brunswick, she left Maine after high school (Class of 1971) and, after living in Massachusetts and California, came screaming back to her home state in 2006. She enjoys chardonnay, laughing at the foibles and frustrations of getting older, and contemplates plastic surgery to get rid of the wattle on her neck.