The Love Doctor

Making your relationships healthier and more fulfilling.

Happy Employees Make Happy Spouses

4 Ways to Be a Happily Married Employee

There are lots of reasons why loving your job makes you a happier person. But did you know that job satisfaction also makes your relationship happier?

That's one of the surprising findings from my landmark study of married couples, which has been following and observing hundreds of married couples for nearly a quarter century in order to find out what makes marriages happy, strong, and long lasting--and what breaks them apart.

While other research has shown that job dissatisfaction can lead to unhappiness at home, this finding, which correlates job happiness with marital happiness, is the first study to emphasize the positive spillover from work to marriage.

Now that you know this, here are four ways to put this finding into practice in your work and home life.

1. Seek support and help from your spouse. If you're having a problem at work, solicit advice from your spouse. Research shows that the need for assistance is one of the three basic needs of all people in relationships (intimacy and reassurance of one's value are the other two). Seeking solutions to work-related problems together strengthens the partnership and feeling that "we're in this together." Moreover, because your spouse knows you so well, he or she is likely to come up with valuable insights and feedback.

2. "Grow" in your job. A recent large-scale study in Harvard Business Review found that the number-one factor that keeps employees happy and motivated in their job is "making progress"--the sense that they are provided with enough resources and time to excel at their job. Workers who are fulfilled and stimulated during the workday tend to be happier individuals, and much of that happiness gets transferred to their spouse at the end of the day.

3. Practice behaviors that relieve stress. Numerous studies have documented a link between workplace stress and poor health. The two most common workplace stressors are feeling as if you haven't been heard or supported, and negative interpersonal work relationships. Find ways to express your needs, ask for assistance, and manage conflict at your job. You may not like everyone at work, but find small groups of people you like. Good health is sexy and attractive to a spouse, and so is an upbeat attitude. You won't have either of those if your job causes you to gain weight, lose sleep, and develop stress-related symptoms like bad gut and hypertension.

4. Share your work life. My study found that the happiest marriages were ones where partners felt their spouse regularly disclosed information about his or her life, and did not keep secrets--even details from work that might be deemed "boring." The upside for the worker, however, is that your work life becomes interwoven into your home life, which promotes a satisfying feeling of work-life balance and makes you happier overall.

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Terri Orbuch, Ph.D., is an Oakland University professor and research professor at The University of Michigan. more...

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