You’ve heard the saying, “Happy wife, happy life.” Well, a recent study shows that a happy wife could mean a healthy life as well!
Researchers found that individuals with happy wives (or husbands) were more likely to be in better health compared to those married to unhappy ones. “Participants with happy partners were significantly more likely to report better health, experience less physical impairment, and to exercise more frequently than participants with unhappy partners,” says the study as reported by Science Daily, “even accounting for the impact of their own happiness and other life circumstances.”
Published in the American Psychological Association (APA) journal Healthy Psychology, the study was conducted by the Michigan State University. Researchers analyzed data from 2,000 middle-age couples on their happiness, self-reported health and physical activity in the span of a six-year period from 2006 to 2012.
Results showed that people with happy partners were 34 percent more likely to be healthy than those married to unhappy partners. “This finding significantly broadens assumptions about the relationship between happiness and health, suggesting a unique social link,” said William Chopik, PhD, an assistant professor of psychology and lead author of the study. “Simply having a happy partner may enhance health as much as striving to be happy oneself.”
According to Chopik, there are at least three reasons why a happy partner can lead to a healthy life:
1. A happy partner is likely to be better at giving care and support. Happy people may have more emotional energy to look after their partners, like asking if they’re feeling fine or reminding them to take their medicine. That’s compared to unhappy partners who may be more focused on their own problems and stressors.
2. Happy partners could be getting their spouses involved in activities that promote good health. A person with a positive outlook on life is more likely to live a healthy lifestyle. She gets enough sleep, eats nutritious food, and exercises. And if that person happens to be married, it’s likely she’s encouraging her partner to do the same, says Chopik.
3. A happy partner can make a marriage easier. With a happy wife or husband, you don’t have to be constantly worried about your partner’s well-being. People with happy partners are less likely to be stressed and exhausted with efforts of cheering up their spouse or trying not to upset them.
In addition, knowing that your partner is happy in your marriage makes you less likely to seek alcohol, drugs or other self-destructive outlets, says Chopik. A happy spouse leads to contentment that allows for many health benefits, he adds.
So, how do you keep you and your spouse in a happy marriage so you both have a better shot at being healthy? Here are some tips:
1. Talk about things other than parenting and maintaining the household. “Communication is a key piece of healthy relationships,” says APA. Take the time to have a real conversation with your spouse regularly -- and no checking your social media feed please.
2. Argue, but be kind. “Couples that use destructive behavior during arguments -- such as yelling, resorting to personal criticisms or withdrawing from the discussion -- are more likely to break up than are couples that fight constructively,” says the APA. The next time you and your partner get into a disagreement, take a deep breath first. Cool heads think clearer (and are less likely to throw a plate at their partner).
3. Break out of your routine. Over time, our daily lives develop a pattern that makes things flow easier. It can be difficult to break out when we become used to “how things work,” but experts recommend trying out new things every now and then. Keep things interesting by going on a hike for the first time or even just eating out at a newly opened restaurant.
But one thing to keep in the calendar is intimacy, says APA. Intimacy is a critical component of romantic relationships. It may be unromantic to schedule a day to have sex, but it “helps ensure that your physical and emotional needs are met.”