The Wages of Marital Tiffs

Focuses on the effects of marital problems. Marital distress cost; Suppression of the immune system; Productivity losses.

By PT Staff, published on March 1, 1996 - last reviewed on June 9, 2016

The effects of a shaky marriage on the couple itself are often obvious. Less noticeable are the economic reverberations.

According to the University of Denver's Howard Markman. Ph.D., marital distress costs Americans 52.9 billion a year in lost work and productivity.

Stressful conflict between husband and wife may suppress the Immune system, Markman contends, leading to illness and sick days. Then there's the more subtle loss of productivity that occurs when workers dwell on problems at home instead of thinking about their job.

Either way, it's men married 10 years or less who account for nearly all of the lost productivity. Women seem better able to keep marital problems from hurting job performance.

Given the marriage-productivity link, Markman says, it only makes good economic sense for companies "to help couples manage marriage and family affairs more effectively"