Aging Couples: Benefits and Costs of Long Intimate Relations
- Victoria I. Michalowski, Victoria I. MichalowskiDepartment of Psychology, University of British Columbia
- Denis GerstorfDenis GerstorfDepartment of Psychology, Humboldt University Berlin
- and Christiane A. HoppmannChristiane A. HoppmannDepartment of Psychology, University of British Columbia
Aging does not occur in isolation, but often involves significant others such as spouses. Whether such dyadic associations involve gains or losses depends on a myriad of factors, including the time frame under consideration. What is beneficial in the short term may not be so in the long term, and vice versa. Similarly, what is beneficial for one partner may be costly for the other, or the couple unit over time. Daily dynamics between partners involving emotion processes, health behaviors, and collaborative cognition may accumulate over years to affect the longer-term physical and mental health outcomes of either partner or both partners across adulthood and into old age. Future research should move beyond an individual-focused approach to aging and consider the importance of and interactions among multiple time scales to better understand how, when, and why older spouses shape each other’s aging trajectories, both for better and for worse.