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Job hunting for a happy marriage


Andrea Black

Husband material? ... his job says a lot about how loyal he's likely to be in marriage.

Husband material? ... his job says a lot about how loyal he's likely to be in marriage.

Looking for a happy-ever-after partner, one that is willing to put in the hard yards for the long haul? Forget searching in bars or online, you should head to your local dental surgery, podiatrist or optometrist instead.

According to research that correlated occupations with divorce and separation rates published in the Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology, optometrists were found to be amongst the most loyal of spouses with just four per cent separating or divorcing, which is only a little less than the marital breakdown rate for podiatrists (6.8 per cent) and dentists (7.75 per cent). But the most reliable relationships were those with agricultural engineers, for whom break-ups are exceedingly rare with less than 2 per cent of their marriages failing. In contrast, dancers, choreographers and bartenders have around a 40 per cent chance of going through a separation or divorce.

Dr Michael Aamodt, the study's co-author, invented a formula to work out the likelihood of success of a marriage based on the occupation of one of the partners using US census information across 449 occupations. The reason for the research was to dispel the myth that police officers are highly likely to divorce, with findings indicating that the divorce rate for law enforcement personnel (14.5 per cent) is lower than that of the general population (16.35 per cent). If these numbers seem low it may be because the study didn't look at all divorced people but just people who were divorced at the time of the 2000 census. People who had divorced and remarried were counted as married for the purposes of the study.

"The Internet is rife with statements regarding occupations with high divorce and suicide rates," Aamodt has said, "but most of these statements are not based on research." Until now.

We dedicate a large amount of our time and energy to our job so it does make sense that our working lives affect our home lives. Clinical Psychologist Jo Lamble believes that when it comes to infidelity, the two issues linked to profession are opportunity and stress.

"Dancers, choreographers, bartenders and massage therapists have plenty of opportunity to not only meet people, but to get up close and personal with the people they meet," says Lamble.

"The nature of their jobs allows them to have a more [physically] intimate relationship with people in the case of the dancers, choreographers and masseuses. The bartenders have plenty of opportunity because they work in such a social setting and entertainers, performers and sports stars [also high in the infidelity stakes] can attract those who might be after their fame and fortune."

Stressful professions that experience high rates of relationship breakdown include nursing and psychiatry - jobs that require a large amount of nurturing.

"When people are stressed and depressed, they can sometimes seek comfort in the wrong places," says Lamble.

"The nurses and psychiatric workers would be dealing with a lot of stress and they also have more intimate relationships with people. Dentists get up close and personal, but people dread seeing them – not sexy!"

Kylie Dunjey, a counsellor and branch manager at Relationships Australia agrees that work stress in the nurturing professions can take its toll on a relationship.

"We don't have an endless capacity to care or to be there for others and if in our job we do that to a very high degree, I think its reasonable to expect that by the end of the day, when we go back to our partner, we may be quite depleted and not have a lot to give to a relationship and relationships need that," she says.

Dr Aamodt's data does not reveal whether it's the nature of the jobs that lead to divorce, or if people prone to unstable relationships are drawn to certain professions.

But Kylie Dunjey believes that jobs attract certain types of people which may in turn reflect the way they conduct their relationships. A dentist, or optometrist for that matter, may be less likely to engage in impulsive acts (hurling television sets out of hotel windows, having affairs) than an entertainer.

"Some jobs have fine detail, analytical, critical work and a personality leaning toward that sort of job and those people create a certain type of relationship," she says.

"Other jobs call for spontaneity and flexibility, if you insert some of those qualities into a relationship, for them it could almost sound like a death sentence to say 'my life partner' they don't want to plan beyond next week, they just want to go with the flow."

Percentage chance of a divorce

1. Dancers and choreographers 43.05

2. Bartenders 38.43

3. Massage therapists 38.22

4. Nursing, psychiatric, and home health workers 28.95

5. Entertainers and performers, sports and related workers 28.49

6. Baggage porters and concierges 28.43

7. Telemarketers 28.10

8. Waiters/waitresses 27.12

9. Maids and housekeeping cleaners 26.38

10. Chefs/head cooks 20.10


  • I'm surprised Pilots didn't make this list. I've heard about the so called AIDS (Aviation induced divorce syndrome).

    Date and time
    May 30, 2012, 11:27AM
    • @Jay,

      Yes but they seem to take their Avian flu far far away from infecting the home base so perhaps that's the reason why it doesn't hit home as badly.

      Green Tea
      Date and time
      May 30, 2012, 12:48PM
  • AH HA! Very interesting "is it the chicken or egg?" questions. I suspect it is the egg. Regarding the high divorce stats for psychiatric workers, I have observed university psychology departments resemble the script for "Days of our Lives" ie lots of partner pinching; relationship breakdowns and student sexual harassment complaints. Very fickle and flirty bunch. Possibly they identify with the the Freudian claim that human behaviour is primarily sexually motivated. This philosophical principle is purported in first year courses usually. This could have drawn them to further study.

    Dr Christine
    Date and time
    May 30, 2012, 11:43AM
    • There's only one word you need to understand this: hypergamy.

      Date and time
      May 30, 2012, 12:02PM
      • But if the overall divorce rate in the West is around 47% shouldn't there be occupations with a higher rate than 43%?

        This study appears to ignore the more relevant factors such as religion and cultural influences.

        Date and time
        May 30, 2012, 12:45PM
        • You must have missed the bit where it said "the study didn't look at all divorced people but just people who were divorced at the time of the 2000 census. People who had divorced and remarried were counted as married for the purposes of the study."

          Joolia Goolia
          Date and time
          May 30, 2012, 2:04PM
      • I picked the girl with the pretty ankles. 15yrs so far ..

        Date and time
        May 30, 2012, 1:06PM
        • Hmm, no divorce stats for strippers or prostitutes?

          That's either because they're just too empowered to bother with the archaic institution of marriage or, they have a divorce rate of 100%.

          Q- 'How was work today honey?'
          A- 'Oh, the boss made me do a whole rugby team...'

          Mmm, nice.

          Date and time
          May 30, 2012, 1:22PM
          • Sorry to ruin your joke Alex, but bosses can't force sex workers to "do" anything or anyone, it's against the law and they'd be reported/thrown in jail for even attempting it. Not to mention that a whole rugby team would be more work that one woman would want to take on, one night of money and unable to work for weeks afterwards? No thanks! We'd share the rugger team with our colleagues and everyone would have a good time.
            Back to the topic of the article - the biggest issue for the partners/spouses of sex workers is being unable to separate the act of sex as a job, from the act of sex as an expression of intimacy and love. It's a hard ask for a lot of people and jealousy is an issue. From my personal experience I have observed a very high amount of dysfunctional relationships, breakups are very common.

            Date and time
            May 30, 2012, 3:19PM
          • SexWorkerLocationVictoriaDate and timeMay 30, 2012, 1:19PM

            VERY good point SexWorker. But how often have you heard of the person who was jealous or guilty in that relationship being the working girl herself?
            T'was my case in point, she couldn't get past her feelings of guilt during her work. At least, that's what she said.

            Date and time
            May 30, 2012, 6:06PM

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