Confirming what you likely knew, research shows that people with relatively prudent and reliable partners tend to perform better at work: They feel more satisfied with their work, earn more promotions, and make more money. 

What scientists call "partner conscientiousness" can predict future job satisfaction, income, and likelihood of promotion.

In short, whom you marry matters.

Except fewer people than ever are actually getting married. The marriage rate in the U.S. is the lowest it has been for over 150 years, and the total number of marriages per year has dropped from a high of 2.5 million in the early '80s to 2.2 million in 2018.

Just over half of adults say they live with a spouse, the lowest on record. (And just over half of Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 say they do not have a steady romantic partner.)

Why? One just-released study theorizes that unmarried women currently face "demographic shortages of marital partners in the U.S. marriage market."

To draw that conclusion, researchers compared the "socio-demographic characteristics of unmarried women's potential (or synthetic) spouses who resemble the husbands of otherwise comparable married women."

Or in non researcher-speak, they compared the education, employment status, and incomes of married men to unmarried men.

And found the unmarried men to be lacking.

The "synthetic husbands" had a 58 percent higher average income than the unmarried men available. They were 19 percent more likely to have a college degree. They were 30 percent more likely to have a job.

All of which the researchers say results in a shortage of "economically attractive" men, which they define as "partners with either a bachelor's degree or incomes of more than $40,000 a year."

If you believe their conclusion -- and frankly I'm a little skeptical -- that's certainly not the only reason the marriage rate has declined. More people live together without getting married. More people live with their parents well into adulthood. 

And while pay disparity (sadly) still exists, the gap has closed... and for the first time, more women in the workforce have college degrees than men -- which leads the researchers to point to a shortage of "economically attractive" men. 

But what is indisputable is the importance of marrying the right person. The person who supports you. Who listens to you. Who is patient, loving, and kind.

Who nudges without pushing. Who gives without expectation of return. Who finds happiness in your success. Who embraces a shared sense of purpose.

Because a marriage is ultimately a team -- and being a team means embracing a shared sense of purpose, at least in a broad sense.

Maybe that's the problem.

If accomplishing goals is important to you, how much another person earns won't matter nearly as much as whether they also love to accomplish goals. If you're a lifelong learner, whether another person graduated college isn't nearly as important as whether they also love to learn new things.

As the "partner conscientiousness" researchers say, "... the dispositional characteristics of the person one marries influence important aspects of one's professional life."

Or in simple terms, a good partner helps you to be an even better you. And wants you to help them become a better version of themselves. Regardless of how much they make. Or whether they went to college.

If, as Jim Rohn says, we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with... then that's particularly true where our significant others are concerned.

You want to associate with people who are the kind of person you'd like to be. You'll move in that direction. And the most important person by far in that respect is your spouse. I can't overemphasize how important that is.

Marry the right person. I'm serious about that. It will make more difference in your life.

Which could be another the marriage rate has dropped.

Maybe fewer women and men are willing to settle for anything less than a partner they will not only love for the rest of their lives... but with whom they can also feel like a genuine team for the rest of their lives.