I’m always a little uncomfortable when some general or admiral or elected official decides to thank a crowd of military spouses for all we do.
It isn’t that we don’t deserve thanks. We do. It’s just that I worry during all that thanking that the sentiment is a teeny bit condescending. A little wind-beneath-my-wings. A touch of the ol’ thanks-to-the-l’il-helper at home!!
It makes me cringe. Still I wonder if the brass actually knows that there is science that shows that a spouse really does affect a person’s success on the job.
While we have known for a while that home life affects work life, and that your partner’s job satisfaction affects your marital satisfaction, and that spouses are the strongest influence on military retention, this new study says your spouse’s personality can influence your job performance, too. This was true for men and women.
According to this story researchers found that husbands and wives who scored high in conscientiousness and helped create satisfying home lives for their spouses were linked to their partner’s future job satisfaction, promotion and higher income.
This wasn’t about whether your partner was an at-home parent or had their own high pressure job. It wasn’t about being married to someone who spent all their time bringing delicious cupcakes to the office (although I do think delicious cupcakes should show up in your fitness report.)
Instead this study was about how our partner’s personality rubs off on us and ends up affecting our performance at work--which I thought was especially relevant for military couples.
Because this study fits into a body of research that shows we are constantly influenced by our partners in all kinds of areas of our lives.
I know, I know. One of the things we military spouses pride ourselves on is that we have our own lives. So many of us have this whole spiel about how our service member’s career has nothing to do with us and our careers have nothing to do with them. We wear that independence as this badge of honor.
Yet this goes way beyond that kind of stance.
Social psychologists Thomas Bradbury and Benjamin Karney, codirectors of the Relationship Institute at UCLA (who have also done notable research on military marriage) call this the Principal of Mutual Influence. In their recent book about how couples affect each other’s health habits, Bradbury and Karney claim that your relationship is powerful because you and your partner inevitably and mutually affect each other’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors.
We can’t help but shape each other’s lives. It is inevitable. No wonder the quality of our intimate relationship has been found to be the best (not one of the predictors or even a pretty good predictor, but the best) predictor of life satisfaction.
So the next time you are sitting in an audience and husbands and wives are being thanked all around you, I hope you will think how wondrous that really is in the age we live in. And thank that man or woman in your life for all they do for you.
U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Raymond Geoffroy