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Your spouse’s attitude has an indirect, powerful impact on whether you succeed in your career. That’s the conclusion from an important study by researchers at Washington University in St. Louis.

“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,” said Joshua Jackson, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology in Arts & Sciences and lead author of the study.

The 2014 study is the first to show how a spouse’s personality will impact your career.

Indeed, the study makes sense.

It reveals a husband or wife at home can influence the spouse’s career from promotions to salary increases.

“The experiences responsible for this association are not likely isolated events where the spouse convinces you to ask for a raise or promotion,” said Professor Jackson.

“Instead, a spouse’s personality influences many daily factors that sum up and accumulate across time to afford one the many actions necessary to receive a promotion or a raise,” he added.

The report’s results stem from a five-year study of nearly 5,000 married people ranging in age from 19 to 89, with both spouses working in about 75 percent of the sample.

Professor Jackson and co-author Brittany Solomon, a graduate student in psychology at Washington University, analyzed data on study participants.

They measured personality traits of spouses in five categories:

— Openness

— Extraversion

— Agreeableness

— Neuroticism

— Conscientiousness

Then, the researchers tracked the work performances and successes of the spouses.

Spouses who scored well on “conscientiousness” had an impact on whether the working spouse had a successful career. This was true whether both spouses worked outside the home. Of the five traits, you obviously don’t want a neurotic, controlling spouse.

This was true in three ways:

— First, through a process known as outsourcing, the working spouse may come to rely on his or her partner to handle more of the day-to-day household chores, such as paying bills, buying groceries and raising children.

— Workers also may be likely to emulate some of the good habits of their conscientious spouses, bringing traits such as diligence and reliability to bear on their own workplace challenges.

— Finally, having a spouse that keeps your personal life running smoothly may simply reduce stress and make it easier to maintain a productive work-life balance.

“This is another example where personality traits are found to predict broad outcomes like health status or occupational success, as in this study,” Professor Jackson said. “What is unique to this study is that your spouse’s personality has an influence on such important life experiences.”

The moral: Choose your spouse carefully. Make sure your potential partner is agreeable — not narcissistic — and has a conscientious personality.

From the Coach’s Corner, recommended reading:

Proof Positive: How Supportive Spouses Help in Work-Related Stress — First, it was the book, “The Millionaire Mind.” The book by Dr. Thomas J. Stanley revealed several traits of millionaires. One important statistic from his study of millionaires: They were successful largely thanks to a supportive spouse. Supportive spouses are vital for success, according to a 2012 study.

13 Tips on Coping with Change at Work – Conquer Your Fears — In this economy, it seems normal to fear losing your job. Plus, budget cuts, hiring freezes, revised job descriptions and getting a new boss can all be unnerving.

10 Strategies to Overcome Stress and Energize Your Career — If job stress is slowing you down, you can jumpstart your career with these 10 reminders.

“It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.”

-Friedrich Nietzsche      


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.