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Working Wives are Happier Wives

By Sierra Black |

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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About Sierra Black

sierra

Sierra Black

Sierra Black lives, writes and raises her kids in the Boston area. She loves irreverence, hates housework and wants to be a writer and mom when she grows up. Read bio and latest posts → Read Sierra's latest posts →

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10 thoughts on “Working Wives are Happier Wives

  1. GP says:

    OK…let me just say that I do work, as an independent consultant…but, there was an awful lot of kvetching last week on the Times Motherlode blog and the Wash Post about how working women are so stressed and have no leisure time…but, maybe in spite of that, they are happy? I think in this day and age, knowing you *can* work if you need to, but don’t *have* to work is the most empowering (easiest/fun) way to go…you still get to be picky about your mater, but you don’t have to be overworked and can spend more chill time with your young kid(s)…

  2. GP says:

    “mater” was supposed to be “mate”!

  3. jenny tries too hard says:

    I don’t know…I like to be picky about my maters

  4. GP says:

    LOL…maters are the one thing I guess nobody can really be picky about, can they?

  5. PlumbLucky says:

    Only when preggo, then I don’t want to see a darned mater! LOL!
    First person experience? A three month stint of my unemployment made for one very disgruntled and upset marriage til it was over. And it wasn’t over money issues, I was completely stircrazy and drove my husband crazy.

  6. GP says:

    ha ha…my 8:44 “mater” reference was to the Latin “mother”

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  8. Julia, http://notlikeacat.blogspot.com/ says:

    Our division of labor fell into complete crap when I was laid off after maternity leave. Obviously, if one partner is home full-time with the infant, why WOULDN’T the other person expect her to take care of everything regarding household and baby? It’s frustrating. I think if I were working/earning money, I’d have more of a leg to stand on in the division-of-labor argument. Plus, I miss the stimulation, responsibility, and challenges a job would provide. I know it would probably make things more stressful around here, but I’d be more personally satisfied.

  9. [...] half of all mothers with children under 18 worked full time last [...]

  10. Mom Corps NYC says:

    Thank you for the article. You raised many important points in response to the Times article. As gender roles in regards to parenting evolve, it becomes all the more apparent that the option to lead a non-traditional, more flexible career path should be available for both mothers AND fathers. While working mothers have definitely paved the way for flexible work, the choice to balance work and life is one that concerns both mothers and fathers. Thank you! http://www.momcorpsnyc.com

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