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  YourHealth > Health@Work  << Previous|Next >>

Wife's long hours affect husband
     If a married woman spends more than 40 hours a week at work, her husband's health suffers. In fact, his chance of being in good or excellent health drops by at least 25 percent in a three-year period.
     The new study from the University of Chicago found that married men don't look out for their own health. "Everyone should be responsible for his or her own health, but I think what this survey shows is how much more dependent husbands are on their wives, than wives are on their husbands on health issues," says study author Ross Stolzenberg, a sociology professor in the university's Alfred P. Sloan Center for Working Families and Children.
      Earlier studies have established that married people are more healthy than singles, but this research is among the first to look at how work hours affect spousal health. Data was drawn from a three-year study at the University of Michigan on how 2,867 husbands and wives handled health issues. Women were more likely than men to remind their spouses to get enough sleep, exercise or to take medications.
     "The health-care aspect of the traditional husband and wife roles appears to be fully institutionalized," says Stolzenberg. "From early ages, girls tend to be socialized and trained to perform the traditional wife's tasks, including health, emotional management and the organization of social contacts. ... In contrast, husbands tend to be socialized to not perform health and social-emotional monitoring and management for anyone at all, not even themselves."
       On the flip side, Stolzenberg says that a husband's long work hours have little impact on his wife's health -- or even his own health. If the husband is unemployed, however, there's a negative health impact on both spouses. The wife's unemployment has much less health influence on either spouse.

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