Having a Happy Spouse Is Associated With Lowered Risk of Mortality

Psychol Sci. 2019 May;30(5):798-803. doi: 10.1177/0956797619835147. Epub 2019 Mar 21.


Studies have shown that individuals' choice of a life partner predicts their life outcomes, from their relationship satisfaction to their career success. The present study examined whether the reach of one's spouse extends even further, to the ultimate life outcome: mortality. A dyadic survival analysis using a representative sample of elderly couples ( N = 4,374) followed for up to 8 years showed that a 1-standard-deviation-higher level of spousal life satisfaction was associated with a 13% lower mortality risk. This effect was robust to controlling for couples' socioeconomic situation (e.g., household income), both partners' sociodemographic characteristics, and baseline health. Exploratory mediation analyses pointed toward partner and actor physical activity as sequential mediators. These findings suggest that life satisfaction has not only intrapersonal but also interpersonal associations with longevity and contribute to the fields of epidemiology, positive psychology, and relationship research.

Keywords: couples; dyadic analyses; life satisfaction; mortality; open materials.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Female
  • Happiness*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Longevity / physiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality / trends*
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Risk Reduction Behavior
  • Self Report / standards
  • Sexual Partners / psychology
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Spouses / ethnology
  • Spouses / psychology*
  • Survival Analysis