Psychology Melbourne Blog

News and Insights from the Science of the Mind

The secret to getting ahead

Edited by Jill Wright,

It looks like someone at The Age must have read my post on how marrying a conscientious spouse is the best thing you can do for your career - based on research by psychologists at Washington University.

Fairfax journalist Sylvia Pennington's piece in the Small Business section included some confirmation from a couple of businessmen on the contributions their wives had made to their success. 

One can't help but wonder if the article would have been even better if the journalist also interviewed at least one successful woman prepared to credit the support of a conscientious husband. The experience of Psychology Melbourne's family and relationship therapists suggests there are many such couples out there. 

Since I wrote the piece, I've also been speculating on some potential implications of the research.

Take, for instance, last year's ground-breaking decision in the full Family Court in the matter of Kane v. Kane which dismissed the long-cherished precedent of "special contributions" which allowed a businessman to claim more of the couple's assets, on the grounds that his superior skills contributed more to the pile. 

As deputy chief justice John Faulks observed at the time: "Frequently, the financial result of a contribution (whether by physical or intellectual labour or imagination, foresight and perspicacity) will be influenced by external factors beyond the control of the party contributing." 

The research adds further weight to the argument for equal distribution, given that one of the external factors is the effect of a conscientious spouse.

As I wrote in the earlier post: "A dutiful spouse is likely to earn you more promotions worth thousands of dollars per year for three main reasons: they handle a lot of the household chores allowing partners to concentrate on their jobs or to recharge; they make their partners feel more satisfied in their marriages, which results in more energy for work and they set a good example to their partner to be diligent themselves."


About the editor, Jill Wright

Jill Wright (MAPS, AAFT, AICD) is the Director and Principal Psychologist at Psychology Melbourne. Jill was twice elected General Director of the Australian Psychological Society and established the APS Victorian branch Study Group Network. Find out more about Jill Wright.