One Spouse's Happiness Extends The Life Of Another

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One Spouse's Happiness Extends The Life Of Another
One Spouse's Happiness Extends The Life Of Another

Video: One Spouse's Happiness Extends The Life Of Another

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One spouse's happiness extends the life of another

Personal life satisfaction has a smaller impact on life expectancy than the happiness of a spouse. It is known that life satisfaction is associated with behaviors that can affect health, diet and physical activity, and if one partner is depressed, then depression threatens the second partner.

One spouse's happiness extends the life of another
One spouse's happiness extends the life of another

Photo: flickr.com /

A new study, published in the journal Psychological Science, says a spouse's happiness contributes to a longer life.

“Our data show that life satisfaction in marriage is associated with mortality, regardless of the socioeconomic and demographic characteristics of people or their health status,” said study author Olga Stavrova of Tilburg University in the Netherlands.

Interestingly, a spouse's life satisfaction was even a better predictor than life satisfaction. Participants who had a happy partner at the start of the study were less likely to die over the next 8 years compared to participants who had less happy partners.

According to Stavrova, the findings highlight the important role of the social environment for health. It is known that life satisfaction is associated with behaviors that can affect health, diet and physical activity, and if one partner is depressed, then depression threatens the other partner.

Stavrova and colleagues studied data from a nationally representative survey of 4,400 American couples over the age of 50. Over the next eight years, participants and their spouses reported satisfaction with their own lives and various factors believed to be associated with mortality, including partner support and levels of physical activity. They also independently assessed their health and provided information about the diseases diagnosed in them.

Over the next eight years, about 16% of the participants died. Those who died were usually older, men, less educated, less wealthy, less physically active, and in poorer health than those who were still alive. The deceased were also more likely to report less relationship satisfaction and less life satisfaction. Their partner usually reported the same. Spouses of deceased participants were also more likely to die during the eight-year follow-up period than spouses of living participants.

The findings suggest that higher life satisfaction in a partner at the start of the study was associated with a lower risk of mortality among participants. In particular, the risk of death in participants with a happy spouse increased more slowly than the risk of death in participants with an unhappy spouse. The relationship between life satisfaction in a partner and the risk of death persists even after accounting for basic socio-demographic data.

Examining plausible explanations for these results, Stavrova found that perceived partner support was not associated with lower mortality among participants. However, higher life satisfaction in the partner was associated with greater physical activity.

This study shows that life satisfaction in a partner is important for health and longevity. Although the participants in this study were American, Stavrova believes their findings apply to couples in other countries.

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