Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to contribute to a growing body of literature on the role of family in managers’ career decision making. Specifically, the authors offer an empirical elaboration on a recently proposed concept of the “family-relatedness of work decisions” (FRWD) by illuminating the role of the spouse in managers’ career sensemaking. Design/methodology/approach – In total, 88 managers who were in the final stage of their EMBA program took part in the study. The data were gathered through a personal career inventory. Findings – The findings revealed that next to family-career salience and parent role identification, spouses also play an important role in shaping managers’ family-related career sensemaking. Research limitations/implications – Future research should examine the supportive role of spouses in contexts other than that of an international EMBA. Moreover, researchers should examine the role of managers’ boundary management styles in shaping the degree of their family-related career sensemaking. Practical implications – The paper suggests that when designing and implementing developmental initiatives, organizations should consider that managers’ decisions about their next career steps may be guided by family-related concerns, and the spouse may play a specific role. Originality/value – This paper offers the first empirical exploration and a refinement of the nascent theory of the “FRWD.” It also introduces a new construct into the theory – spousal career support – that opens new avenues for future research.