Wedding vows all tend to have a variation of the phrase "...for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health," to verbally solidify the life-long commitment of matrimony. Marriage can not only significantly affect the health and the lifespan of a spouse, but it can also influence whether or not spouses climb up the corporate ladder. According to a recent study forthcoming in the journal Psychological Science, when it comes to pay raises, promotions, and other measures of career success, it’s the husband or wife at home who exerts influence on the other’s workplace productivity.

As social beings, we have the tendency to naturally imitate things that are a part of our everyday environment. A spouse’s personality can affect many facets in your life. You may begin to pick up your partner’s catchphrases, participate in their hobbies, and have the same outlook on life.

Previously, a study from the University of Chicago found marrying someone with a positive outlook on life will make your experiences positive as well, but the effect only extends to women. Positive personality traits among men include open-mindedness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and anxiety. Moreover, the overwhelming desire to be seen by others in a positive light was a quality measured as “positivity.” Wives whose husbands showed higher levels of positivity reported less conflict.

Now, a team of researchers at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., Joshua Jackson, an assistant professor of psychology in Arts & Sciences, and Brittany Soloman, co-author and graduate student in psychology, believe a spouse’s positivity and overall personality can trickle down to their partner’s workplace balance. In an effort to gauge whether spousal personality traits such as openness, extraversion, agreeableness, neuroticism, and conscientiousness, could seep into their partner’s career success, they tracked on-the-job performance of working spouses.

The five-year study consisted of nearly 5,000 married people ranging in age from 19 to 89, with 75 percent of both spouses working. Annual surveys were given to the participants to measure occupational success — self-reported opinions on job satisfaction, salary increases, and the likelihood of being promoted.

The findings revealed workers who scored highest on measures of occupational success tended to have a spouse with a personality that scored high for conscientiousness. This held true whether or not both spouses worked, and regardless of whether the working spouse was male or female. This suggests the personality traits of the spouse we choose may play a role in determining our career success, which can, ultimately, make us richer or poorer.

“The experiences responsible for this association are not likely isolated events where the spouse convinces you to ask for a raise or promotion,” said Jackson, in the news release. “Instead, a spouse’s personality influences many daily factors that sum up and accumulate across time to afford one the many actions necessary to receive a promotion or a raise.”

Jackson and Soloman have developed several theories to determine how exactly conscientiousness may influence their partner’s workplace performance. They believe a conscientious spouse contributes to career success in three ways. Through outsourcing, the working spouse may begin to rely on his or her partner to handle more of the day-to-day household chores.

Workers are also likely to naturally imitate some of the good habits of their conscientious spouses, such as diligence and reliability, and bring this to face their own workplace challenges. Lastly, a spouse that can help keep your personal life at bay can help reduce stress, therefore making it easy to maintain a work-life balance.

“What is unique to this study is that your spouse’s personality has an influence on such important life experiences,” Jackson said. This poses the belief there are unexpected implications in how we go about choosing our partners. A happy marriage is now found to be essential for both good health and a successful career.

Sources: Jackson J, Soloman B. Spouse’s personality influences career success, study finds. Forthcoming Psychological Science. 2014.

Iveniuk J, Laumann E, McClintock MK. Marital Conflict in Older Couples: Positivity, Personality, and Health. Journal of Marriage and Family. 2014.