Marriage-Friendly and Marriage-Testing Occupations

Family Swimming Together The separation of Al and Tipper Gore yesterday after 40 years of marriage got me thinking about the role certain vocations play in the testing or support of marriage. Politics has to be one of the toughest careers on marriages.

People must work to make a living, and all work presents some challenges to family life. However, it seems to me that some occupations are particularly straining on marriage. Politics is undoubtedly one of them. I hope you'll take the time to sound off on this. I've taken a run at listing the five most marriage-testing vocations and the five most marriage friendly vocations. I've included ministry in both categories. Tell me what you think of that and what you'd add or take away from the lists. This obviously doesn't mean that these vocations guarantee or doom any marriage.


Military – long stretches away from family, risk of life, lots of moving.

Politics – Many, many temptations. Lots of travel and time away from family. Often intense stretches of high stress.

Ministry – High scrutiny and "fish bowl" effect on marriage and family, pay is often mediocre, high emotional toll, always on call, often many moves.

Police Officers – high stress, risk of life, lots of graphic experiences, pay is often tepid—particularly early in career.

Attorney – Many temptations, high stakes, long hours, propensity to argue at home as well as in the courtroom.



Teaching – Lots of time off and off when children are. Job is generally secure, barring a great recession 🙂

Ministry – Often flexible, intersection of family and church, church supportive of strong marriage, usually not a ton of travel.

Doctor – Pay high, usually number of shifts can be flexible. ER doctors may be exempt from this list due to stress.

Author – Flexibility, low stress, but hard to make a living unless you're really good.

Entrepreneur (Business Owner) – Flexibility, potentially lucrative, but can face challenging economic times.

There's my shot at it… what's yours?


Dr. Tim Spivey is Lead Planter of New Vintage Church in San Diego, California. He is the author of numerous articles and one book, "Jesus: The Powerful Servant." A sought after speaker for events, Tim also serves as Adjunct Professor of Religion at Pepperdine University. Tim serves as a church consultant, and his writings are featured on, Church Executive magazine, Faith Village, Sermon Central, and Giving Rocket.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Share Your Thoughts

3 thoughts on “Marriage-Friendly and Marriage-Testing Occupations

  1. Marriage testing occupation: College athletic coach. Over the last couple years we’ve become keenly aware of the family pressures of being a college athletic coach (football and basketball specifically). They are lucky if they get to stay in one place for a few years, husband is gone almost all the time between away games and recruiting, rigorous schedules, and almost no family time. Truthfully, finding a solid marriage among these tireless families can be a diamond in the rough. Brian now says he would never in a thousand years take that occupation.

  2. well, i can definitely agree with putting attorney on the bad list. more than anything, it’s the time involved. the work just never stops. while young people still have flexibility in choosing careers, the older generation needs to be more transparent about just how much time certain careers involve. this would include some of the ones on your good list: physician, entrepeneur, etc. i might add federal bureaucrat to the good list: regular hours, job security, pretty good pay, outstanding benefits (health insurance is like cash in-kind these days.)

  3. I’d add professional athlete or entertainer to the “challenging” category — weeks/months away from family, excessive ego-boosting on the road, temptations of drugs/adultery/anything else money can buy. I’ll have to chew on the idea of ministry in a marriage-friendly category … I suppose in a supportive congregation, it could be.