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Is it all just a myth -- does working too much actually affect your relationship?

January 06, 2016

London, UK (06 January, 2015). Traditionally we have been told that the longer you work, the harder it is to maintain romantic relations. However, a new study from the journal Human Relations, published by SAGE in partnership with The Tavistock Institute, has found the opposite: that there is in fact no negative association between the hours worked and relationship satisfaction.

In the study 285 couples took part to determine the effect of working hours on relationships. As the researchers explain:

"Conventional wisdom and research seem to suggest that partners in dual career-couples have to decide whether they would rather risk their careers or their romantic relationship [...] Our research questions the assumption that working longer hours is hazardous for all romantic relationships."

"Our study attempts to help answer the question of whether dual-career couples [relationships where both partners pursue their careers] should be hesitant to devote many hours to their work when they fear negative relationship consequences", the researchers continue.

By examining the associations between participants working time, private lives and happiness in their respective relationships, the researchers found that couples compensated for the time lost with their partners by making the most of time they have after work.

The researchers explain how career driven people who are investing long hours into work, crucial in the pursuit of their career goals, are also aware that they can't have everything in their private lives.

As the researchers conclude:

"[...] there was no negative association between working time and relationship satisfaction [...] Our results challenge the common-sense assumption about a negative association between working time and relationship outcomes."
-end-
The article "The longer your work hours, the worse your relationship? The role of selective optimization with compensation in the associations of working time with relationship satisfaction and self-disclosure in dual-career couples" by Dana Unger, Sabine Sonnentag, Cornelia Niessen Friedrich-Alexander and Angela Kuonath Ludwig Maximilian, published in Human Relations, will be free to access for a limited time and can be read here.

Sara Miller McCune founded SAGE Publishing in 1965 to support the dissemination of usable knowledge and educate a global community. SAGE is a leading international provider of innovative, high-quality content publishing more than 900 journals and over 800 new books each year, spanning a wide range of subject areas. A growing selection of library products includes archives, data, case studies and video. SAGE remains majority owned by our founder and after her lifetime will become owned by a charitable trust that secures the company's continued independence. Principal offices are located in Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore, Washington DC and Melbourne. http://www.sagepublishing.com

The Tavistock Institute of Human Relations (TIHR) applies social science to contemporary issues and problems. It was established as a not for profit organization with charitable purpose in 1947, and that same year founded Human Relations with the Research Center for Group Dynamics at MIT. The Institute is engaged with evaluation and action research, organisational development and change consultancy, executive coaching and professional development, all in service of supporting sustainable change and ongoing learning. http://www.tavinstitute.org/

Human Relations is an international peer reviewed journal, which publishes the highest quality original research to advance our understanding of social relationships at and around work. Human Relations encourages strong empirical contributions that develop and extend theory as well as more conceptual papers that integrate, critique and expand existing theory. Human Relations also welcomes critical reviews that genuinely advance our understanding of the connections between management, organizations and interdisciplinary social sciences and critical essays that address contemporary scholarly issues and debates within the journal's scope. http://hum.sagepub.com/

SAGE

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