A Happy Spouse May Make You Healthier
by Caty Long
The old adage “happy wife, happy life” might be better translated nowadays to, “happy spouse, healthy life.” Studies in the past have found that good mental health influences good physical health, but have overlooked the influence of the mental well-being of those closest to us, particularly spouses. William Chopik, PhD, assistant professor of psychology at Michigan State University, wanted to probe into the health effects of close social relationships. This new study published in the journal Health Psychology explores the connection between the happiness of one’s spouse and one’s personal health.
Data was collected from 1,981 couples over 50 years old who have been surveyed for the past 6 years on measures such as happiness, health, and physical activity. The study revealed that people with happy spouses were more likely to have better mental and physical health themselves, particularly in the later years in life.
Chopik gives several potential reasons as to why a happy spouse could contribute to one’s own health. Happier spouses often have more energy, which is oriented toward their spouse and children to offer support to them, both mental and physical. They may also work as motivators for their spouse, encouraging them to take care of themselves through exercise, healthy eating, and mental health maintenance. With a strong support system, a person is less likely to engage in self-destructive behaviors that could cause health problems. Overall, a happy spouse can contribute to a better life and better marriage for both spouses.
While married life may not always be easy, joy can always be found even in the most difficult of circumstances. Choosing to remain positive might help you out in the long run – and your spouse may thank you for it, too.
About the author
Caty Long is a first year Master of Theological Studies student at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute and currently an intern for the Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life, and Youth at the USCCB.