The husbands of workaholics are significantly less healthy than other married men, according to new research by the University of Chicago. On the other hand, long hours put in by husbands appear to have no effect on their wives.
The survey is based on data from nearly 3,000 adults collected in 1986 and then compared with information collected from the same people three years later.
Participants were asked to assess their overall health on a scale from excellent to poor. Self-ratings of this type tend to be fairly accurate, the surveyors said.
The research confirmed that “marriage is healthy.” Both married men and women were significantly more likely to report that they were in good health than their single counterparts.
Working long hours had no significant effect on women or men. In fact, longer working hours for men actually improved their health.
The surprising information was that when the wife worked more than 40 hours a week, the husband reported, in 50 per cent of cases, that his health deteriorated.
The sociologist who conducted the study says the reason for this is because women are still largely responsible for the health of the family.
They are also the ones who arrange most of the family’s social contact, and social contact tends to be a stress reliever. Women who work longer hours have less time to take make nutritious meals, make social arrangements and remind their husbands to take their medication.
So should women stay home and look after their families? No, says the researcher. Men should start paying more attention to their own well-being instead of looking to their wives to do it.