We all know the phrase – ‘Happy Wife, Happy Life’ – but can this be true? And can it apply to all relationships? Is there a scientific connection between the emotional well-being of one person and the physical well-being of the other?

A new study published in September 2016 claims that there is a link between happiness and health, at least among middle-aged and older adults. According to this study, ‘having a happy partner is independently associated with better health in oneself’ – ie, people whose spouses are happier are probably also in better shape, even independently of their own happiness and other life circumstances!

The findings

This study looked at and surveyed about 2,000 older married heterosexual couples over 6 years. They found that people with happy spouses were more likely to report better health over this time.

The study looked at 4 aspects of health:

  • Self-reported health

  • Physical impairment

  • Chronic medical conditions

Out of those 4, the only thing that wasn’t found to be improved by a happy life partner was the chronic medical conditions.

The results showed no difference between husbands and wives.

Reasons why having a happy partner may enhance a person’s health

The authors proposed 3 potential reasons as to why having a happy partner may enhance someone’s health, irrespective of one’s own happiness:

1) Stronger social support

Happy partners are more likely to provide stronger social support, such as caretaking – making sure their partner is O.K., making sure they’ve taken their medications, and looking after them when they’re sick. In comparison, unhappy partners are more likely to be focused on their own problems.

2) Promotion of good health

Happy partners are more likely to get their partners involved with activities and environments that promote good health, as they are more likely to be involved with them themselves. For example: eating healthy food, exercising, and maintaining regular sleep cycles. Knowing that your partner is happy also supposedly makes you less likely to partake in self-destructive behaviour, such as excessive alcohol consumption or drug use.

3) Making their partner’s life easier

Being with a happy partner should inherently make a someone’s life ‘easier,’ because they aren’t stressed that their partners are always in a bad mood, and they don’t feel like they are under constant pressure not to upset them.

What does this mean for me?

It’s difficult to know what message to draw from the study – apart from try to marry a happy person, and keep in mind that you and your partner’s health and happiness may be intertwined!

Unfortunately, life is complicated, and it can be hard to be happy and/or healthy all of the time. If you are concerned about your own or your partner’s happiness or health, please come in and see one of our friendly doctors – our phone number is 8269 6000.

  • Chopik, W 2016, ‘Having a Happy Spouse Could Be Good for your Health,’ , http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2016/09/happy-spouse.aspx

  • Chopik, W & O’Brien, E 2016, ‘Happy You, Healthy Me? Having a Happy Partner Is Independently Associated With Better Health in Oneself,’ , Advance online publication, http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/hea0000432

  • Drain, K 2016, ‘Happy Wife, Happy Life: Study Shows Better Overall Health Goes Hand-In-Hand With A Pleased Spouse,’ , http://www.medicaldaily.com/happy-wife-happy-life-study-shows-better-overall-health-goes-hand-hand-pleased-398992

  • Luscombe, B 2016, ‘Happy People Make Their Spouses Healthier,’ , http://time.com/4506490/happy-people-make-their-spouses-healthier/

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