New research shows that people who get married are more satisfied with their lives than people who stay single.
But not every possible partner is a good bet for your well-being.
The research suggests that if you care about your happiness, you should avoid marrying a neurotic person.
This insight comes from Bruce Headey, a psychologist at Melbourne University in Australia.
In a 2010 study, Headey and his team used data from the German Socio-Economic Panel study, which covered some 30,000 people living in 11,000 households from 1984 to 2009. In one part of their analysis, Headey and his colleagues looked at how the personality traits of married people affect life satisfaction.
“The trait that matters most is neuroticism,” the authors write. “A panel regression analysis … indicates that individuals with relatively neurotic partners are significantly less happy than those with more emotionally stable partners.”
It’s usually defined as a predilection toward being fearful or worried.
Neurotic people are more likely to detect threats in their environments, which can lead to mood swings and obsessive thinking about what could go wrong. They have been found to be more easily distracted, less self confident, and to have lower salaries than their more emotionally stable peers.
And according to Headey’s research, marrying someone with strong neurotic tendencies makes for a tough marriage. The researchers analysed partners who lived together for less than five years, between five and 10 years, between 10 and 20 years, and over 20 years. In each longevity cohort, neuroticism had a “substantial effect” on life satisfaction.
“It is worth stressing that, because adult personality is stable, our findings suggest that partnering/marrying a person with favourable traits will probably bring a long-term gain in one’s happiness (if the partnership lasts), whereas partnering with a person with unfavorable traits will probably cause long-term loss,” the authors conclude.
What’s the lesson here?
Before you put a ring on it, you may want to ask your beau to take a personality test.
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