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Secrets of Happiness in Middle Age

LONDON (Reuters Health) - A study that followed couples for more than 25 years has revealed some of the factors that contribute to a happy life during middle age. Among the most important is a stable and loving relationship, researchers say.

The study also showed that factors such as high self-esteem and earlier experiences, such as when an individual first had sex and whether they enjoyed school, could also be important.

Researcher Dr. Charles Hill, of Whittier College in California, told the European Congress of Psychology in London on Monday: ``It is clear from this that the quality of close relationships is important for satisfaction at mid-life.''

Hill's study examined the states of mind of 261 middle-aged people. Each of those questioned had taken part in the first stage of the investigation in 1972, which looked at the attitudes and experiences of 231 couples.

Researchers followed up with each of the couples in 1974 to see if they were still dating. In 1987, the study looked at how those individuals had fared in their careers and whether they had married or had children.

This latest stage aimed to find out who was living a contented life. It showed that men and women who had high self-esteem and a happy relationship were happy when they reached middle age, as were those who were romantic.

The researchers also found that women with a strong sense of religion were happier, while men who had children and strong social support also benefited.

A high level of satisfaction at college also correlated with being satisfied with life 25 years later.

Men who had disclosed more to their dating partner in college and had waited longer to have sexual intercourse were more satisfied with life years later, while women who wanted sex more often in college were more satisfied at middle age.


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