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Why Your Spouse Could Be Key To Your Career Success

It used to be said that behind every successful man is a good woman.  A new study suggests that this saying has a great deal of validity.  It reveals that the personality traits of our partner have a huge impact upon our own career success.

The study, published by researchers from Washington University in St. Louis in the Psychological Science journal, found that traits such as conscientiousness in a spouse can strongly influence our own personal success in the workplace.

“Our study shows that it is not only your own personality that influences the experiences that lead to greater occupational success, but that your spouse’s personality matters too,” the researchers say.


They suggest that our spouse has a big role in our regular behaviours, and that their personal influence is not limited to one off events, such as requesting a raise at work.  Rather, they are responsible for more regular occurences that culminate in our success at work.

The study was conducted over a five year period, with around 5,000 married couples included in the research.  Participants undertook a range of psychological assessments to measure the five core personality traits of extraversion, neuroticism, openness, conscientiousness and agreeableness.

How our spouse influences us

To try and understand how, or indeed if, the personalities of our spouse influenced our own workplace behaviour, the researchers also measured workplace performance reports from each of the working participants in the study.  This included measures such as salary rises, promotions and even employee engagement.

Interestingly, it emerged that the employees who achieved the most in their work often had a spouse that scored highly for conscientiousness.

How conscientiousness contributes to work success

So why was this?  The research team believe that having a conscientious partner has three main benefits to your own work success.

  1. Outsourcing - this is when the spouse undertakes many of the regular and day to day chores around the house that can often distract us from our work.  This may involve paying the bills or doing the grocery shopping.
  2. Inspiration - this is when the diligent behaviours of our spouse rub off on us, thus making us better equipped to cope with the various challenges that work asks of us.
  3. Stress reduction - finally, they suggest that conscientious spouses tend to keep things running smoothly, thus reducing the stresses that can hinder our work performance.

It kind of makes sense, doesn’t it?  It’s increasingly difficult to demarcate between our work lives and our personal lives, so it seems sensible to believe that one can cross over into the other.  If you’re tense at home for instance, it seems obvious that this will impact on your work performance.

This study suggests that our home life can contribute in lots of small ways to our professional performance, and these small things mount up to a substantial amount when taken collectively.

The researchers go as far as to suggest that their findings may influence how we choose a romantic partner.  I’m not sure about that, but they are interesting findings nonetheless.

“This is another example where personality traits are found to predict broad outcomes like health status or occupational success, as in this study,” the researchers conclude.

How does your own partner measure up?  Do they help or hinder your career?  Let us know in the comments below.

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