Marriage and the Workplace

Studies have shown that healthy marriages result in statistically significant benefits to both men and women, as well as their children. Logically, these benefits translate to the workplace.  So, the question becomes, “What can a company do to support healthy marriages?”

Accordingly to the US Department of Health and Human Services, women in healthy marriages are physically and emotionally healthier, wealthier, and less likely to commit or be a victim of crime. Men in healthy marriages live longer, are physically healthier, maintain more stable employment, and earn better wages. And, the children of healthy marriages are more likely to go to college, remain drug free, stay out of trouble, and contribute to their communities.

Consider the damage of divorce, and these benefits seem logical. People I know who have gone through divorce have struggled with negative feelings, including anger, resentment, jealousy, and loneliness. They have spent countless hours consoling and reassuring their children and working through custody arrangements. They have endured a gauntlet of meetings with attorneys and mediators, followed by court proceedings and more legal wrangling. One or both of the spouses have had to find a new home, move, and re-establish their lives. And at the end of it all, the financial toll can reverse years, even decades, of saving.

With the benefits of healthy marriages and consequences of divorce, it isn’t a stretch to think that employers would benefit from healthy marriages in their workplace. So why don’t they make this a priority?

Fear of offending single or divorced employees, perhaps? Concern over labor practices? Maybe they don’t know how to help? Or, perhaps they are simply a lot more focused on short term financial results. Pity.

Well, here is some good news. Employers can be pro-marriage without being anti-anything else, and they can encourage healthy marriages without it costing them a dime and without offending anyone.

They can start by embracing the position that healthy, happy employees are better equipped to handle the stresses of peak performance. In the pursuit of such health and happiness, they can encourage employees to consider the handful of things that matter most in their lives. (Married people will automatically know that marriage is one of them.) They can challenge their employees to develop a few “do goals” or “be goals” that reflect these priorities. And, they can offer to hold their employees accountable for investing in these goals through weekly actions (insert irunurun).

Now, if an employee asks how he can make his marriage part of his weekly key actions, just ask him in response “How do you honor and cherish your wife?” …keep your commitments, praise her, speak highly of her to others, put her first, talk to her, listen to her, speak her love language…do something.  Voila, you are now a more marriage-friendly employer.

What else have you seen or done in the workplace to encourage employees to build a healthy marriage?