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Working Wives are Happier Wives

clip_image006The New York Times gave all you working moms out there a gift this weekend: a juicy article detailing research that shows women who work are more likely to stay married. They’re also happier in their marriages than those who don’t.

Looking at research from many sources, the Times reports that the more education and economic independence a woman gains, the more likely she is to stay happily married. The reason: without the weight of economic pressure to choose a mate, women are able to marry men they genuinely like. They can select for traits like “will wash dishes without complaining” and “is happy to get up at 2 a.m. with a sick baby”.

Both men and women report being happier in more equitable marriages, where both husband and wife earn money and share household chores. I can say from personal experience that my marriage has been much smoother sailing during the times my husband and I have both been working. The closer we get that the holy grail of equally shared parenting the happier we both are.

It’s not all roses for the guys, though. The article also cites research showing that men over 60 whose wives earn more than they do are less likely than their peers to enjoy good health later in life. My guess is that this is because men in lower earning positions probably have less affluent lifestyles overall, with the attendant health issues that can bring up.

As a country, we’re still a long way from equality. Women are the breadwinners in only 22 percent of households. That’s up from 7 percent in 1970. At this rate, we’ll hit a 50-50 split by the time I retire. Women also still do about two thirds of the housework, even in households where both partners work.

For those looking for tips on how to achieve a more balanced partnership, you can check out Marc and Amy Vachon’s excellent blog, Equally Shared Parenting.

The study did not mention gay married couples, but other recent reports suggest they are doing just fine.

How does your household balance chores and careers?

Photo: WILPF

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