Most couples would admit that their spouse's happiness brings them joy to some degree, but marital satisfaction might not only lead to a happy life but a longer one, too.
A new study, published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, states that having a happy spouse not only increases the length of our relationships but our lives, too.
It's no surprise that marriage to a happy person is more likely to last than marriage to an unhappy person—common sense tells us that. But linking a happy marriage to life and death is rather perplexing. "The data show that spousal life satisfaction was associated with mortality, regardless of individuals' socioeconomic and demographic characteristics, or their physical health status," says Olga Stavrova, a researcher at Tilburg University in the Netherlands.
Stavrova researched and surveyed approximately 4,400 couples in the United States who were over the age of 50. For up to eight years, participants reported on life satisfaction. At the end of eight years, about 16% of participants had died and previously report lower relationship satisfaction, lower life satisfaction, and having a partner who also reported lower life satisfaction.
Upon further research, Stavrova discovered that the risk of mortality for participants with a happy spouse increased more slowly than mortality risk for participants with an unhappy spouse. Which makes total sense, considering previous research has shown that individuals' career success and relationship satisfaction are predicted by their spouses' dispositional characteristics.
It also means the opposite is true, too. "If your partner is depressed and wants to spend the evening eating chips in front of the TV—that's how your evening will probably end up looking, as well," says Stavrova.
So what does all this mean?
No, having a super-duper happy marriage doesn't exactly mean that you'll live well into your 100's, and having a dull, lackluster marriage doesn't equate to Divorce Court. But it does mean that your spouse's behaviors can affect your relationship and quality of life over time.
We tend to expect so much from our marriage. Reminding your partner (and yourself) that you appreciate and love them might extend the shelf life of the honeymoon period and in turn your life, too. And for that, we're down to give it a try.
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