Having a happy spouse seems to be good for your health, a new study suggests.
Happiness and health
The research included nearly 2,000 heterosexual couples between the ages of 50 and 94. Researchers asked about their happiness, health and exercise levels over six years.
People with happy spouses were much more likely to report better health during that time. This association was the same for both husbands and wives and was separate from an individual's own happiness.
The study was published online in the journal Health Psychology.
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"This finding significantly broadens assumptions about the relationship between happiness and health, suggesting a unique social link," principal investigator William Chopik said in a journal news release. He's 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," he added.
The researchers only found an association, not a cause-and-effect link, however.
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Chopik said happy spouses are more likely to provide strong social support, such as caretaking. Happy spouses are also more apt to get their partners involved in healthy habits such as getting regular exercise, eating well and sleeping adequately.
Also, being with a happy spouse can make your life easier.
"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," Chopik said.
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