Having a happy partner makes you live longer, new research finds.
People whose partners are satisfied with their lives were less likely to die over the 8 years the study tracked people.
In fact, the happiness of people’s partners was more important for their longevity than their own happiness.
One reason is probably that happy people are more active.
On the other hand, unhappy people drag their partners down, said Dr Olga Stavrova, the study’s author:
“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.”
The results come from a study of around 4,400 couples in the US who were followed for up to 8 years.
They were asked about their life satisfaction, their relationship quality and other aspects of their health.
The results showed that people were at less risk of dying over the 8 years if their spouse was happy.
Their own happiness was also important, but their partner’s happiness mattered more.
One reason, the study revealed, was that happier partners were more physically active.
This made both partners more physically active and reduced the chance of dying.
The findings held, no matter people’s socioeconomic status, said Stavrova:
“The data show that spousal life satisfaction was associated with mortality, regardless of individuals’ socioeconomic and demographic characteristics, or their physical health status,”
Dr Stavrova concluded:
“The findings underscore the role of individuals’ immediate social environment in their health outcomes.
Most importantly, it has the potential to extend our understanding of what makes up individuals’ ‘social environment’ by including the personality and well-being of individuals’ close ones.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2013) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Psychological Science (Stavrova et al., 2019).