The wife standing at the door tapping her foot and waiting angrily for her husband to return from another long day at the office is a familiar stereotype, but researchers in Texas say a man working long hours actually leads to a healthier wife.
"Wives whose husbands were working particularly long hours were actually in better health, due to the income those husbands brought into the household," Dr. Sybil Kleiner, a post doctoral research associate at the University of Texas at Dallas told 1200 WOAI news.
Kleiner and researchers at Indiana University studied data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, which was collected over thirty years. The study is published in the on line journal 'Social Forces.'
Kleiner says the extra income that husbands bring in from working extra or overtime hours amounts to a 'small, yet statistically significant difference' in improving their wives' health.
But, interestingly, she says the opposite is not true.
"We also found that certain levels of overtime work among wives was actually linked to poorer health of their husbands," she said.
"We were expecting that women's long hours of work might positively affect their husband's health, and we were surprised when we found that they do not."
The best thing for a husband's health is a wife who works 40 hours a week and no more. She says the reason for the gender differences is that women generally make less than men, so a hard working woman will bring less extra pay into the home than a hard working man, and the extra hours will frequently require a man, especially if he has a family, to exercise less and eat less healthy food.
She says if gender pay inequities were ended, men too would feel the health benefits of having a hard working spouse.