Not Making Enough Money? It May Be Your Spouse’s Fault
Life + Money

Not Making Enough Money? It May Be Your Spouse’s Fault


Forget about sense of humor or smarts.

Singles with big career aspirations should seek a partner with a “highly conscientious personality,” claims a new study from Washington University in St. Louis.

Workers with mindful partners are more likely to have high job satisfaction, more salary increases, and an increased likelihood of being promoted. This was the case, regardless of the gender of the working spouse or whether both spouses worked.

Related: The Ugly Duckling at Work Has a Tougher Time

The study looked at the “Big 5” personality traits, including openness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism, but conscientiousness proved the most important when it came to a spouse’s occupational success. Previous research has shown that people tend to look for a romantic partner who scores high in agreeableness and low in neuroticism.

“Initially marrying a conscientious partner could sound like a recipe for a rigid and lackluster lifestyle,” co-authors Joshua Jackson and Brittany Solomon write. “However, the reality of doing so is more likely to yield personal and professional prosperity.”

The study finds that a spouse’s influence is more than just encouragement when going for a raise or promotion, but rather an accumulation of long-term factors that lead to a worker performing better.

Related: The Bad News About All the Singles in America

The authors believe that conscientious spouses help their partners succeed by handling day-to-day chores and reducing stress around work-life balance. Workers also tend to emulate good habits of their spouses, bringing that conscientiousness to the workplace.

The study will be published in the journal Psychological Science, and is based on a five-year study of nearly 5,000 married people, ages 19-89. About three-quarters of couples surveyed had two working spouses.

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