Written by Angela Silva
Happiness attracts happiness. Beauty attracts beauty. There is a very real, almost magnetic phenomenon in life that draws us toward goodness. Just think about it – we all know those people that we love being around, who just make us feel incredible and important. They make us forget about our problems and make us feel invincible. (And we probably all know a few people who make us feel quite the opposite, whom we probably choose to avoid if possible.)
But surrounding ourselves with positive people does more than make us feel good about ourselves. New research has actually established a link between having a happy spouse and reporting better physical health. It seems to be much like the “Patch Adams” effect of medicine – that a positive attitude and outlook can actually create a physiological effect and promote healing.
This study, conducted by the American Psychological Association, surveyed approximately 2,000 middle-aged heterosexual couples. The survey asked respondents questions about their own health, happiness, and activity level as well as those of their spouses. The results of the survey showed that happy spouses were more likely to report having better health.
That makes sense, right? I think it’s safe to generally assume that a healthy and happy marriage provides emotional support in times of stress and anxiety, physical support in times of injury and illness, optimism in times of uncertainty, and encouragement in times of doubt. Having a partner who is anxiously concerned with our wellbeing helps us develop and maintain healthy habits and a positive outlook on life.
So how do the results of this survey translate to our individual relationships? Perhaps we can take an inventory of our own happiness and relationship with our spouses, and resolve to make improvements. To get started, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you feel emotionally and physically supported by your spouse?
- Would your spouse say they feel emotionally and physically supported by you?
- Do you look forward to spending time with your spouse?
- Does your spouse look forward to spending time with you?
- Do you and your spouse have goals for the future?
- Do you enjoy physical activity and prioritize your health?
- Does your spouse enjoy physical activity and prioritize his/her health?
- Do you show concern for your spouse’s health?
- Does your spouse show concern for your health?
Perhaps the answers to these personal questions can give you an idea of your perceived attitude and how it affects both your and your spouse’s health, as well as some conversation points or ideas for goals to set to improve your and/or your spouse’s attitude and happiness for a happy and healthy life together.
Positivity in Relationships: What the Research Says
- Research from the University of Chicago found that if the husband has a high level of positivity, there’s less conflict in the relationship.
- Research published in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that it’s very important to respond to your partner’s good news in a positive way. These responses predicted the success of the relationships. Be excited for your partner!