The purpose of the research:
William Chopik and Ed O’Brien were interested in finding out if there is a correlation between having a happy spouse and your own health. The study aims to reveal a unique social link between happiness and health among older adults. They hypothesized that, “Simply having a happy partner may enhance health as much as striving to be happy oneself.” However, past studies have proposed that happy people are indeed generally healthy people, but Chopik wanted to take it to another level by exploring the health effects of interpersonal relationships.
The basic method used to test the hypothesis:
Researchers examined the survey information of 1,981 couples aged 50 to 94, including happiness, self-rated health and physical activity over a six-year period. Participants were asked to answer questions about their health, including level of physical impairment, chronic illnesses and level of physical activity, and provide any apprehensions they may have regarding their spouse’s health. Additionally, participants evaluated their own self happiness and life fulfillment.
What was found:
Chopik said that there are three possible reasons as to why having a happy partner might boost one’s health. One, there is a strong social support from happy partners while unhappy partners lack this support, but rather are too focused strictly on their own problems. Two, there is a greater chance that happy partners will encourage their spouses to participate in activities that promote better health like sleeping regularly, eating healthy and exercising. Third, overall sharing an environment with a happy partner should make a person’s life if not necessarily happier, easier. “Simply knowing that one’s partner is satisfied with his or her individual circumstances may temper a person’s need to seek self-destructive outlets, such as drinking or drugs, and may more generally offer contentment in ways that afford health benefits down the road,” Chopik said.
What the findings mean:
A person’s good health was independently related with the happiness of his or her spouse. Additionally, people with an unhappy partner had more physical damages, participated in less exercise and evaluated their overall health worse than those who had a happy partner. Interestingly, the results showed no difference between husbands and wives; the results applied regardless of gender.
How society will use the findings:
The authors caution that more research needs to be done within this matter. Specifically, the paper warns that “causality cannot be definitively discerned with these data” and optimisms that future studies will also look at different groups of people, not just the largely older white married couples. They also recommend that additional studies on the subject could profit from using data that is collected in a more impartial way than being self-reported. Overall, the health of each partner can get a positive enhancement by treating each other with greater care. Be more courtese to your spouse and nurture your marriage to keep it in a happy state. It is important to understand that when thinking about your health, the state of your marriage is an aspect, perhaps equivalent with diet, exercise, and other crucial lifestyle behaviors.