The study, led by Jeremy Yorgason, a Brigham Young University professor, showed what happens with couples when one of them loses the ability to perform routine daily activities.
It was found that both men and women - regardless of age - reported being happier in their marriage after they themselves became physically disabled.
Also, the researchers observed that men whose spouse became physically disabled also experienced greater happiness in their relationship.
However, women whose spouse became physically disabled reported no overall change in the relationship.
"The numbers show that couples seem to come together when one of them experiences physical limitations. This suggests disability is a two-way street, with some surprising pluses in addition to the minuses people ordinarily expect," said Yorgason.
The study is based on information provided by 1,217 married people randomly selected from around the country. Researchers tracked the lives of the study participants for 12 years.
By the time the study ended, about one-fourth of participants - ranging from 36 to 75 years old - claimed that either they or their spouse had permanent physical conditions that restricted activities like dressing, bathing, eating or working around the house.
Focusing on this group the researchers compared their satisfaction in marriage before and after the physical disability occurred.
But, Yorgason said that the researchers could not find out exactly why physical limitations boost marital happiness.
One hint from the new study is that in some cases disability brings more couple interaction.
One expert not involved with the study noted that a particular increase in quality time reported by older husbands.
"This suggests that taking on care roles and responsibilities that may be new or more focused than in previous times in their marriage provided the men an opportunity to support and spend more time with their wives and ultimately enhanced their appreciation of their relationship," said Karen Roberto, director of Virginia Tech's Center for Gerontology.
Since the onset of physical disability is often stressful, Yorgason recommended couples allow time to adjust and look within their relationship for the "silver lining."
The study is published in the journal Research on Aging.