The tall and short of marriage revealed
London, Jan 30 : Vertically challenged men get the short end of the stick when it comes to marriage, as a study shows that husbands tend to be taller than their wives.
Information on thousands of British couples revealed that in the vast majority - 92.5 percent - the man was taller, the Daily Mail reported.
Women had the edge in only 4 percent of the couples investigated and couples of equal height were even rarer, making up the remaining 3.5 percent.
However, the results didn't simply reflect the average difference in height between men and women - if the couples had been randomly paired between men and women in the data then wives would have been taller than their husbands in 6 percent of cases.
British and Dutch researchers used data on more than 12,000 families from around the UK to look at height differences.
The average height of the women studied was 5ft 4.5in, while the average man reached 5ft 10in and #65533; making him 5.5in taller than the woman in his life.
The study, one of the first to look at couples, noted previous research, which has shown that women prefer taller men and men prefer their women to be shorter.
However, it seems that women don't like their men to be too tall. In just around one in seven cases was the man 10in or more taller than the woman.
And, in an exception to the rule, very tall men tended to settle down with short women.
Newcastle University researcher Professor Daniel Nettle, said that this may be because the extremes of height simply have less choice.
Professor Nettle, who collaborated with Gert Stulp, from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, said that it is likely that those of around average height pair off first, simply because they have more choice.
This leaves the others with fewer potential partners to pick from.
"Pair formation, acquiring a mate to form a reproductive unit, is a complex process. Mating preferences are a step in this process," the researchers said.
They said that mating preferences, the propensity to mate with certain phenotypes, are an important part of pair formation.
However, due to constraining factors such as availability of mates, rival competition, and mutual mate choice, preferred characteristics may not be realised in the actual partner, they added.
The study is published in the journal PloS One.