Turns out, if your spouse is a grump it can hurt your physical health. A recent study published in the Journal of Health Psychology suggests that our emotional and physical well-being is directly affected by the happiness and health of our significant other.
Researchers have long touted the benefits of happiness on health. Happy people have been proven to have stronger immune systems, better cardiovascular health, are less vulnerable to chronic stress, and live longer too. The problem is, achieving and maintaining happiness is not always within our control. Our ability to be happy is affected by a lot of outside variables, including our romantic relationships.
More than 1,950 American heterosexual couples took part in the study, all 50 or older. The physical and mental health of participants was assessed four times over a 10-year period, starting in 1992. Overwhelmingly, researchers concluded that the happiness of a person’s partner was a significant predictor of “self-health”.
Happy spouses encouraged their partners to eat well and exercise regularly, all of which contribute to better overall health and a better quality of life. By the same token, participants with happy partners were more likely to report better health, experience less physical impairment, and exercise more frequently than participants with unhappy partners. This held true even after accounting for the impact of their own happiness and other life circumstances. Happiness, it turns out, is contagious among couples.