Development does not take place in isolation and is often interrelated with close others such as marital partners. To examine interrelations in spousal happiness across midlife and old age, we used 35-year longitudinal data from both members of 178 married couples in the Seattle Longitudinal Study. Latent growth curve models revealed sizeable spousal similarities not only in levels of happiness but also in how happiness changed over time. These spousal interrelations were considerably larger in size than those found among random pairs of women and men from the same sample. Results are in line with life-span theories emphasizing an interactive minds perspective by showing that adult happiness waxes and wanes in close association with the respective spouse. Our findings also complement previous individual-level work on age-related changes in well-being by pointing to the importance of using the couple as the unit of analysis.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Life-span and Life-course Studies