Successful wives 'damage men's health'

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Early starts, late nights and endless meetings may be good for the bank balance, but professional women beware. You could be making your husband sick.

Early starts, late nights and endless meetings may be good for the bank balance, but professional women beware. You could be making your husband sick.

Research will this week say that the more committed and successful a woman is at work, the worse her partner feels. The findings blame a syndrome called "unfulfilled husband hypothesis" for making men feel inadequate when women stray too far beyond their traditional roles. The man of the house, it seems, is still not cut out for domesticity.

Men's physical and mental health is "significantly poorer when their wives work full-time", say the authors of the study. The conclusion will exasperate groups such as the Equal Opportunities Commission and the Fawcett Society, which argue that women's ambitions are thwarted by a lack of support at home. Overwhelmingly, women still do the lion's share of the housework.

According to the EOC, a growing number of men are complaining about Britain's long-hours culture. But the latest research, published in the journal Patient Education and Counselling, claims that the longer men work, the happier they are. The researchers also found that the number of hours a wife works is significantly associated with the state of health of her partner.

In short, men are still geared to a traditional life as the breadwinner. "We found that the more the man works, the better his wellbeing," the authors say.

The researchers, who also found that men felt better and healthier when they earned more than their wives, say the challenge is for men to find new ways of defining themselves. There are plenty of examples to follow: the husbands of Paula Radcliffe and Dame Marjorie Scardino, chief executive of Pearson, have weathered their wives' success. In contrast, the marriage of the City financier Nicola Horlick appears to have been troubled.

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