American scientists have found that among people older than 60 years are the most happy and contented married life be long term, but between singles and those who divorced and married again, not much difference. For this, the researchers analyzed data on more than 7.5 thousand people, collected from 1968 to 2010. The subjective feeling of happiness, thus, is only weakly dependent on the family situation and, most likely, primarily to determine individual characteristics, write the scientists in The Journal of Positive Psychology.
The relationship between marital status and health (both mental and physical) is studied quite often, but on this research question are inclined to believe that marriage and romance in as an important aspect of a healthy lifestyle as eating right and lack of bad habits. For example, married elderly people are physically stronger than their single peers, but of single people, according to the results of one meta-analysis, the higher the risk of developing dementia.
From such studies, however, have a very important limitation: often researchers estimate marital status only one time and draw conclusions based on this. At the same time may be, for example, that the participant has been married more than once, that he might have been a widow or that his whole life was lonely, and married, for example, already in old age when the study was conducted.
Richard Lucas (Richard Lucas) from the University of Michigan and his colleagues have decided to take this into account. For this they used the results of a long-term study, which was conducted from 1968 to 2010: at the beginning of this study all participants were 18 years old, and until they reach 60 years old, scientists every few years collecting data about their lives and health. So, for each of 7532 participants in the sample was available for detailed data about marital status: marriage, divorce, widowhood or simply the rejection of a long-term romantic relationship. At the end of the study, each participant was asked on a scale of 1 to 5 to rate how satisfied they were with their lives.
Depending on the changes in marital status, participants were divided into three groups: those who lived with the same partner the whole period of the study (79 percent), those who all the time was lonely (8%), and those who were divorced, married multiple times or have been widowed (13 percent).
On average, participants who were married, were evaluated by contentment with his life 3.8 points. This estimate was higher than in the other two groups, but among them differed insignificantly among the participants, who several times changed their marital status, the rating was approximately 3.5, and those who all the time was lonely — a little above 3.6.
The authors concluded that married older people are actually happier than their peers, but this difference is true only in the case if the marriage was not interrupted by divorce and re-marriage. Among those who had been married a few times, and those who chose to stay alone, differences in the subjective feeling of happiness was not: the researchers suggested that their satisfaction with life could decrease social isolation, which, however, occurred for different reasons in both cases. Despite the fact that accurate conclusions on the work yet to be done (this will require additional research), the authors noted that the mere subjective feeling of happiness is likely to depend on individual characteristics of the person, not the development of his personal life.
Of course, we should not forget that, in addition to marital status, may be important and the extent to which people are satisfied with their relationships: more recently, scientists have foundthat whether a person is happy their relationship is affected by his evaluation of different aspects of the relationship and how he evaluates his life.