Study Finds Couples Are Happiest When Both Spouses Work

Spouses Work Could it be that when both husbands and wives have a purpose outside the home, they're more comfortable together inside the home? Or maybe the age-old adage that "absence makes the heart grow fonder" is true. For better or worse, researchers from both the University of California-Los Angeles and Utrecht University in the Netherlands found that the happiest marriages involve husbands and wives who are both stimulated by challenging jobs.

Maybe it's just a mindset. The researchers also found that the more you like your job, the more you like your marriage. But it could be a chicken-and-egg-type thing: Does being happier at work make you happier at home, or does being happier at home make you happier at work?

This may be true of working couples with no children, but what of those with kids? You'd think both parents working might put a crimp in relationship happiness, since there's so much to do and such little time to do it in. Isn't that what we've been told all our lives? The study disproves this. True, increases in husbands' workloads corresponded with declines in marital satisfaction for both spouses. But what came as a complete surprise is that "increases in wives' workload corresponded with increased marital satisfaction," at least among the wives.

An article posted on Human Resource Executive Online speculated that that affirmation outside the home, along with the pride that comes with contributing to the support of the family, could account for the increased happiness of the working mother. The article also suggested that husbands are more likely to pitch in with the dreaded housework, as well as child-rearing, when their wives are working, and this endears them to each other.

Perhaps it's just that two incomes reduce financial stress on a marriage, and financial disputes are among the leading points of contention among married couples. The study didn't explain the why's, just the what's. Your speculation is as good as anyone else's -- what's your experience? Please let us know below.


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Ghent96

Typical... neither the article nor the researchers actually considered that being a "mom" or "dad" inside the home is, in fact, a full time job in itself! God forbid that being a parent actually gives someone enjoyment and purpose in life. These are just more transparent attempts to destroy the "old-fashioned" traditional family.

The research also doesn't deal with the effects of two working parents on children versus one stay at home parent. In fact, research, real research that is actually done well, proves time & time again that one stay at home parent accelerates a child's learning, development, and increases their IQ upon school entry.

July 18 2011 at 12:14 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Ludavico Corde

I think this article and some of the comments are conflating several issues.

1. Any human, who is productive, works a challenging job they love, and reaps resultant financial security that comes from such a lifestyle, is going to be infinitely more happy, more well-adjusted, and less stressed than their counterparts who are not as fortunate. Humans need a sense of purpose and to be productive at something in life.

2. In our society(as in most), the emotional and financial stresses of having children are downplayed. I work with many a female who is glad as heck, to get into the office and away from her kids for the workday. It gives them a much needed break. So yes, this could be part of the reason "couples are happier when both work." In any case, we need to respect people's choices in life, staying home and raising a family, is more challenging and more worthy of respect, than any career or profession. But I do believe this creates more stress in the family- Kids are stress produces, and often families struggle on one income. At the same time, I fully respect those couples who do not have children.

3. My wife fall into the general category in the article, we both work long hour, demanding jobs, we have no children, and we are comfortable financially. We are very happy and have a good, strong marriage, although I could not site any specifics on why that is, I do think our lifestyle fosters it. We rarely argue or fight, since we are both always working and when we come home in the evening, we are both too tired to fight or argue over petty things. We are happy see each other, take comfort in each other, and always recap and confide how our day went. We also keep our finances separate. She has her money/bank account and I have mine. We share bills and expenses. At first, I was against the idea, but I really think this helps us- We don't fight over the $200 sweater or $200 pair of shoes she buys. It's her money, she earned it and it's coming out of her bank account, etc... Same for me, when I shell out thousands of dollars in music gear(my hobby), not a peep from her.

July 10 2011 at 2:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Katelyn

This article is great - when both spouses work, they keep the need for independence. Even greater when the couple is a DINK couple - dual income no kids...www.DINKlife.com celebrates the dual income no kids lifestyle because more and more of us are deciding to stay DINKs for longer, and our lifestyle is very different from singles or couples with kids. DINKS Unite!

June 24 2011 at 7:46 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
maryborrege

Never mind, that both studies are from liberal organizations. The U.S. based "Council on Contemporary Families" found that stay-at-home moms who wished that they had a job had more depression symptoms, but those who didn't want a job outside the home when their children were young DIDN'T suffer from depression. Conclusion: Neither employment nor non-employment outside the home is best for all mothers with young children. Instead, mental health depends on mother's employment preferences--AND if the work for pay was a quality "stimulating" job.

June 24 2011 at 7:35 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
syd

I absolutely agree with this article. Gone are they days of June Cleaver on Leave it to Beaver. 2 incomes are needed...period. Now unless you're Melania Trump, you can't survive happily on just 1 income. Another reason is study after study has shown women who are stay-at-home moms, who have allowed their skills (if they had any in the first place) to get rusty and for goodness sakes if the fairy tale blows up and have to get a divorce, these women and their children are thrown into poverty. If not poverty, a far lower quality of life. I don't believe in leaving my welfare in anyone else's hands but my own. Particularly if you have children. People live on fantasy island way too much and don't plan for the "what ifs". This line of thinking usually gets them in a completely disastrous predicament. Then, there's always the lazy ones who have never wanted to work. They usually wind up regretting their decision. This is a new day and a new era, both spouses need to work if not for the money for the stimulation. Boredom and monotony as well as finances can kill a marriage or relationship faster than the speed of sound.

June 24 2011 at 6:44 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to syd's comment
Patty

Your post is horrendously insulting on a variety of levels.

June 24 2011 at 7:24 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
TCHSPIRIT6

its still (unfortunately) all about who wears the pants in the family
or who brings home the bacon. too many ignorant people practice
this belief. but the trend is good -- because the male now has an
opportunity to experience what wifey does while he is working (those
wonderful household chorese that only women 'should' be doing...

and wifey can now experience the headaches and stress of working
outside the home and all the crap they have to do to bring home the bacon.

such a blessing -- this new 2 partners working and sharing the load.

June 24 2011 at 6:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to TCHSPIRIT6's comment
Patty

Unfortunately, the statistics show that women continue to be responsible for cooking, cleaning, shopping, and other household tasks IN ADDITION to working full-time, while men go to work, mow the lawn, and call it good. I'm NOT man-bashing and have a wonderful, old-fashioned man, I'm just stating facts.

June 24 2011 at 7:20 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Rosa Mama

OK, but how about when the jobs aren't "challenging" or "stimulating"?

June 24 2011 at 6:17 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Al

how did you come up with that bs?

June 24 2011 at 6:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Denise

The question is how happy are the children?

June 24 2011 at 5:27 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
djlives2paint

Agree with the financial stress reduction. However, I would make the observation that if ONE person has poor spending habits, providing more money to spend poorly doesn't fix anything.
I would also bet the study asked about "work OUTSIDE the home." I am a freelance mural/portrait artist, and if I leave for a job at somebody's house, my family seems to "GET" the fact that I'm DOING WORK; but if I'm in my studio at home doing a painting, it's like I'm not doing anything productive to them. Think they should have dug into this issue a little deeper.

June 24 2011 at 5:16 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

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