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Keeping your spouse happy could be good for your health

There are a number of reasons.

Image: Shutterstock/OlgaKok

KEEPING YOUR SPOUSE happy could be good for your health.

According to a new study from the American Psychological Association, it could work particularly for middle-aged and older people.

In a nationally representative study of 1,981 middle-age heterosexual couples, researchers found that people with happy spouses were much more likely to report better health over time.

This occurred above and beyond the person’s own happiness, according to the study, published in the APA journal Health Psychology.

“This finding significantly broadens assumptions about the relationship between happiness and health, suggesting a unique social link,” said William Chopik, PhD, an assistant professor of psychology at Michigan State University and principal investigator of the study.

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 Chopik wanted to take it one step further by exploring the health effects of interpersonal relationships. He said there are at least three potential reasons why having a happy partner might enhance a person’s health, irrespective of one’s own happiness:

  • Happy partners likely 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.
  • Being with a happy partner should make a person’s life easier even if not explicitly happier.

The study examined the survey information of couples age 50 to 94, including happiness, self-rated health and physical activity over a six-year period. The results showed no difference between husbands and wives in the study.

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