There’s a lot to consider when choosing a romantic partner – whether you have compatible life goals, how well you get along with each other’s family and friends, and physical attraction may top the list.
But now there’s another reason to carefully screen your potential spouse: who you choose to spend your life with may impact your career success.
“The personality of your spouse could influence a lot of your behaviors and these behaviors can then spill over into your work life,” says Joshua Jackson, assistant professor of psychology at Washington University in St. Louis.
Jackson is the lead author of a new study to be published in Psychological Science that tracked nearly 5,000 married Australians for five years and measured how a spouse’s personality impacted whether their partner received a promotion, earned a higher salary or experienced higher levels of job satisfaction. Those who were most successful had spouses who scored high in conscientiousness.
The correlation between a conscientious spouse and career success held up regardless of gender and regardless of whether the couple was a dual-income family or a single-income family, though Jackson notes the effect was higher for single-income families.
So, what makes conscientious partners the key to success?
“Conscientiousness is the most beneficial personality trait,” says Jackson. Conscientious individuals are thorough, efficient and organized. They do things by the book and are able to control impulses.
There are three main ways in which having a conscientious partner affected one’s career success:
1. They lower your stress. “Having a conscientious spouse is associated with a happier home life,” says Jackson. A happy home life reduces stress and means you’re better able to focus while at work without worrying about trouble brewing at home.
2. A conscientious spouse tends to handle more of the day-to-day household chores. Since conscientious individuals are hard-working and efficient, they’re able to remove household tasks and responsibilities from their partners’ plates, freeing up more time for their spouse to recover from a hard day at work, or to put in more hours at the office.
3. They encourage similar behavior in their partner. A conscientious spouse can role model good habits and traits such as diligence and reliability – skills that have been shown to contribute to career success.