When it comes to happiness and wellbeing, it’s pretty common to assume that being in a committed relationship or marriage makes a big difference. While single people certainly aren’t necessarily lonely or unhappy without a partner, research suggests that those whose spouses are also considered their best friend experience twice the level of positive wellbeing effects as those who only have good friendships.
There are lots of subtle ways your partner makes you a healthier and happier person. Here are just a few of those things you can be grateful for.
1. If your partner is a happy person, you’re more likely to be healthier.
In a study from Michigan State university where researchers examined data taken from 2,000 older married couples, those who considered their spouses to be happy people were much more likely to report being healthier over the long run. In fact, subjects who reportedly had happy spouses were about 34 percent more likely to be in good health compared to those whose spouses were reportedly considered not to be very happy.
2. Couples who drink together are happier.
Despite the mellow or giddy effects of drinking alcohol, this actually has everything to do with how similar couples’ drinking habits are. According to a study published in The Journal of Gerontology, older couples who had similar drinking habits reported decreased negative marital quality over time, regardless of how much was consumed. Negative marital quality increased when drinking habits didn’t match.
3. Sharing a bed with your partner may help you sleep better at night.
Besides common nighttime issues that occur between couples (like snoring and hogging all the covers), sleeping beside your loving and caring partner actually improves your sleep because of the anxiety-reducing, stress-relieving effects. The key here, however, is having a responsive partner who makes you feel valued. People who reportedly had more responsive partners experienced lower levels of anxiety and depression, which led to improved sleep quality.
4. Kissing your partner helps keep your immune system healthy.
Research suggests that passionate tongue-kissing for at least 10 seconds can transfer 80 million bacteria from one person to another — and as gross as that sounds, it’s actually a good thing. Our bodies rely on a diversity of bacteria to keep us healthy, so the more diverse the bacteria in our guts, the more prepared our bodies will be to fight off viruses. Of course, you could just eat a more diversified diet, but the study mentioned above shows that if your partner consumes a healthy, diversified diet too, you could benefit from it by the bacteria that’s transferred to you during a kiss.
5. A strong relationship makes your heart physically healthier.
We say that emotions come straight from the heart, and there’s proof that your loving relationship could actually be very beneficial for your cardiovascular health. In a European study, married Finnish couples of all ages were less likely to suffer a heart attack in both men and women compared to unmarried people. Another study found that married people are also three times more likely to have survived heart surgery three months later compared to single people who had the same surgery.
Now might be a good time to go hug, kiss or have a drink with your significant other to thank them for being such a great partner. And chances are if you get these benefits from them, they probably get the same benefits from you too.