Why the secret to your success is who you marry


We've often heard this saying: "Behind every successful man is a good woman." The expression also holds true for successful women.

In fact, people with supportive spouses are "more likely to give themselves the chance to succeed," according to a study published by Carnegie Mellon University.

Researchers studied 163 married couples and discovered that people with supportive spouses were more likely to take on potentially rewarding challenges. Those who accepted challenges experienced more personal growth, happiness and psychological well-being just a few months later.

"We found support for the idea that the choices people make at these specific decision points, such as pursuing a work opportunity...matter a lot for their long-term well-being," Brooke Feeney, lead author of the study and professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon, says in a statement.

Many successful people have discussed the importance of having their spouse by their side. Former president Barack Obama attributes his political success to his wife.

"Obviously I couldn't have done anything that I've done without Michelle," Obama tells Oprah Winfrey in 2011. "You were asking earlier what keeps me sane, what keeps me balanced, what allows me to deal with the pressure. It is this young lady right here... Not only has she been a great first lady, she is just my rock. I count on her in so many ways every single day."

Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg at the White House on September 25, 2015.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg noted the vital role his wife Priscilla Chan plays in his life in a 2017 Harvard commencement speech. The tech guru says Chan inspired him to volunteer his time and take on social work.

"Priscilla's the most important person in my life so you can say, it's the most important thing I built in my time here," he says in the speech.

Of course, it's not just women supporting their husbands. In a 2013 interview with Winfrey, Beyoncé says that her husband, rapper and mogul Jay-Z, is extremely supportive and helps her "on so many levels."

"I would not be the woman I am if I did not go home to that man," says the Grammy winning artist. "It just gives me such a foundation."

Beyonce and Jay Z perform during 'The Formation World Tour' at MetLife Stadium on October 7, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Larry Busacca | WireImage | Getty Images

So what can one do to push their spouse to embrace new work opportunities? Express enthusiasm about an opportunity, reassure your partner and discuss the benefits of taking on a new role or challenge, says the study.

"Significant others can help you thrive through embracing life opportunities," says Feeney. "Or they can hinder your ability to thrive by making it less likely that you'll pursue opportunities for growth."

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