Want to know the secret to a long, happy life? Of course, you can eat healthily, follow a consistent exercise regimen, get plenty of sleep, and keep a clear head, but did you know that being part of a happy marriage can also extend your life?

This comes from a recent study published in the journal Health Psychology. In it, researchers took data from a widespread study which included interview responses from an astonishing 19,000 married people. The original study, the General Social Survey, was conducted between the years 1978 and 2014 and, amongst many other things, dove into the subject of marriage quality.

When the psychologists behind this latest study took a second look at the results from the General Social Survey, they discovered something amazing–the participants who reported that they were in “pretty happy marriages” or “very happy marriages” actually ended up living longer lives than the ones who reported that their marriages were “not so happy.”

What’s especially incredible about their findings is that the “happy marriage” participants didn’t just live slightly longer lives than their peers, they were 20% less likely to die during the time frame in which the study was conducted.

The numbers don’t lie, people!

So, why are happily married folks living longer than those who are in “not so happy” relationships? Well, study co-author Mark Whisman, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Colorado Boulder, has some pretty sound theories.

According to Whisman, there are key benefits to happy marriages that unhappy spouses don’t necessarily get. Here are the most important ones:

  • Physical Health: Happy spouses are more likely to encourage each other to keep healthy. This means more doctor’s visits, a better exercise regimen, and, most importantly, a positive, live-in accountability partner who is making sure that health is put first.
  • Psychological Health: It’s no secret that a happy marriage can positively influence a spouse’s psychological health. In turn, this constant flow of happiness can translate to good mental health, which inevitably means good physical health, too.
  • Social Support: Ostensibly, people don’t need to be in a happy marriage to have an abundant social life, but having a partner can expand a person’s social influence even further. We’ve told you before about how having plenty of buds can extend a life, so this point isn’t surprising to us at all!

It just goes to show you that it’s important to pick your partner wisely because the quality of your relationship with them can have a massive influence on not only your mental health, but also your physical health, too. So, if you and your honey are considering marriage, it’s time that you take an honest look at red flags and incompatibilities prior to taking the plunge. Your health depends on it!

We can’t wait to hear your take on this new marriage study. Are you part of a happy marriage? If so, do you think your good relationship has helped your health? Do you have any marriage advice that you would like to share?