WIVES in Hong Kong have a less rosy view of their marriages than their husbands. No matter how long a couple have been together, fewer women are as content as the men, according to a new survey. Although husbands say most of their happiness derives from their spouse, wives find their children more fulfilling. That doesn't mean the kids feel the same way, though. According to the survey, they are happiest when they're with their friends. But there is one thing on which mums and dads both wholeheartedly agree - they derive very little happiness from their bosses. The survey was commissioned by the Prudential financial services group and carried out by Survey Research Hongkong Ltd. SRH conducted random telephone interviews with 900 Hong Kong Chinese family members, including married couples aged 19-54 (300 males and 300 females) and 300 teenagers aged between 13 and 18. The findings do not surprise clinical psychologist Gillian Marcoolyn. ''Men and women may use different criteria on which to judge their relationships,'' she said. ''Women may lament the lack of intimacy and communication within the relationship, while men may expect much less in this area. ''Men are not socialised to be good communicators. Men are socialised to be 'doers'. ''When a wife shares a problem with her husband in the hope he will empathically respond, instead he offers her a solution. Women report that they feel patronised and not listened to.'' Men often were not aware of the emotional and even sexual needs of women. Men traditionally had more power in relationships both financially as well as personally. ''Is it therefore not hard to understand why men are generally happier in these relationships?'' Ms Marcoolyn said. ''Broadly speaking, the women are giving more priority to the 'human' elements and men give more priority to 'material' elements. ''We may then hypothesise that these data reflect women's relative dissatisfaction with their role in the family. ''She looks after the emotional needs and perhaps gets insufficient support from her husband in this area.'' Generally, the survey gives marriage as an institution a vote of confidence. Most respondents considered their relationships with their spouse to be strong. However, fewer women than men, whether they had been married less than a year or for more than 20 years, considered their relationships to be good or very good. For those who had been married more than 20 years, the number of men who felt the relationship was still good or very good was 77 per cent; the figure for women was 66 per cent. Fewer than five per cent rated their marriage as fair or poor. They blamed their unsatisfactory relationship on a lack of communication, quarrelling, incompatibility and a fading away of the relationship with time. Only 33 per cent said they had made an effort to improve their relationship. They did this mostly by improving their temper, being more considerate and communicative, compromising more, spending more time together, giving presents and going on trips together. The survey showed that work, or at work-related events, was the venue where most couples met. Only six per cent met in public places such as on buses or in shopping malls. Among other results, the survey showed that: Teenagers are demanding more freedom; Children are enjoying more material comfort; The traditional roles of husband and wife are fading; and, Drug abuse is seen as becoming more common among teenagers. Although the findings give an impression of a society in transition, they also indicate that for most of the family or social issues addressed, parents and teenagers share similar views. The main issue where there was some difference in opinion between generations was over relationships between parents and children and, in particular, communication. The survey concluded that while the majority of people in Hong Kong felt they lived within a cohesive family unit, they were still concerned about pressures and influences which could break it apart.