Having a conscientious spouse who tends to household chores without being told may also be good for your health, a new study has found.
The study involving adults aged over 50 also found that women, but not men, get an added health benefit when paired with someone who is conscientious.
This is the first large-scale analysis of what the authors call the "compensatory conscientiousness effect", the boost in health reported by those with conscientious spouses or romantic partners.
"Highly conscientious people are more organised and responsible and tend to follow through with their obligations, they are more impulse controlled and tend to follow rules," said University of Illinois (U of I ) psychology professor Brent Roberts, who led the study.
They are more likely to exercise, eat nutritious food and adhere to vitamin or drug regimens, and are less likely to smoke, abuse drugs or take unwarranted risks, all of which may explain their better health.
"There's been kind of an individualistic bias in personality research," he said. "But human beings are not islands. We are an incredibly interdependent species."
Roberts and colleagues at the universities of Illinois and Michigan looked at the association of personality and self-reported health among more than 2,000 couples taking part in the Health and Retirement Study, a representative study of the US population over 50 years.
The study asked participants to rate their own levels of neuroticism and conscientiousness and to answer questions about the quality of their health, said a U of I release.
Highly neurotic people tend to be more moody, anxious and tend to worry, Roberts added. Most studies have found that they tend to report poorer health and less satisfying relationships.
The study appeared in this month's Psychological Science.