Happy spouse improves your health
People with happy spouses were much more likely to report better health over time, according to a study of almost 2000 middle-aged and older adults . This was true regardless of the person's own happiness, say the authors.
The finding significantly broadens assumptions about the relationship between happiness and health, suggesting a unique social link," says Dr William Chopik, an assistant professor of psychology at Michigan State University.
"Simply having a happy partner may enhance health as much as striving to be happy oneself."
Previous research suggests happy people are generally healthy people, but Dr Chopik wanted to take it one step further by exploring the health effects of interpersonal relationships. He says there are at least 3 potential reasons why having a happy partner might enhance a person's health, irrespective of their own happiness:
- Happy partners provide stronger social support, such as caretaking, as compared to unhappy partners who are more likely to be focused on their own stressors;
- Happy partners may get unhappy people involved with activities and environments that promote good health, such as maintaining regular sleep cycles, eating nutritious food and exercising; and
- Being with a happy partner should make a person's life easier even if not explicitly happier.
"Simply knowing that one's partner is satisfied with his or her individual circumstances may temper a person's need to seek self-destructive outlets, such as drinking or drugs, and may more generally offer contentment in ways that afford health benefits down the road," Dr Chopik says.