Having a happy spouse may be good for your health.
Previous studies have found that mental well-being — feeling happy and satisfied — is closely linked to good physical health. But a new study, published in Health Psychology, suggests that physical health may also be linked to the happiness of one’s husband or wife.
Researchers used data from a survey of 1,981 heterosexual couples, a nationwide sample of Americans over 50 whose happiness had been assessed periodically since 1992 using well-validated scales. They also completed regular questionnaires on physical health.
A person’s good health was independently associated with the happiness of his or her spouse. Consistently, people with an unhappy partner had more physical impairments, engaged in less exercise and rated their overall health worse than those who had a happy partner.
The lead author, William J. Chopik, an assistant professor of psychology at Michigan State University, said that a happy spouse provides social support, and encourages you to eat a healthful diet and exercise, all of which can contribute to your good health.
“This speaks to the power of our close relationships,” he continued. “We’ve known for a long time that when we surround ourselves with happy people, we’re happier. But now we know that it not only makes us happier, but healthier as well.”