"Husbands now have three things they have to be: workers, husbands and parents. If you don't have kids, working hard is totally consistent with being a good husband. If you have kids, working hard takes away from something you're supposed to be doing: helping to raise your kid," Karney said.
Once a baby is on board, researchers found that the harder the men worked, the less satisfied both partners were with their marriage. Oddly enough, the opposite held true for women: The more hours new moms worked at their job, the happier both spouses were with the marriage.
While the authors postulate that this marital satisfaction stems from dads being forced to pitch in more frequently, there are likely other factors at play here, says Dave Greenfield, psychologist and founder of the Healing Center, LLC in West Hartford, Conn.
The study looked at women who were more likely to be career-oriented in the first place, so allowing the mother to continue working would contribute to her sense of identity, self worth and stimulation, he says. She wouldn't have to completely reinvent herself as a stay-at-home mom.
Elyse Bender-Segall, 32, of Livingston N.J., said work was too integral a part of who she is to give up. She owns a public replations firm, PR Revolution, and was back in the office six days after her now 10-month-old son Madden was born.
"I wouldn't have been happy staying at home," she said. "I feel like if I took a poll of women I know, the ones who are happily married are the ones where the women work."
Because her husband also works full time, the couple has a live-in nanny, but Bender-Seagall says the time spent at their respective occupations allows the couple to really devote themselves to their family life in the evenings.
This concept of guarding each partner's distinct life within a marriage may also be at play in Karney's findings, Greenfield said.
"Couples with distinct identities have potentially happier marriages because they are not revolving their lives solely around each other. Dual careers are great for that because they're required to have that separation" -- as long as you can juggle those two careers along with other demands, like kids, he said.