New U.K. research dispels the long-held belief that long work hours make it harder to maintain a romantic relationship.
Investigators discovered dual-career couples can maintain a romantic relationship if each partner is aware that their long work hours will inevitably cause sacrifices and if they make the most of their time after work.
In a study that focused on 285 couples, investigators from the Tavistock Institute discovered long work hours do not impede relationship satisfaction. Their findings have been published in the journal Human Relations.
For the study, researchers assessed the effect of working hours on the couple’s relationship. 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.
Investigators sought to determine if a partner’s working hours influenced a couple’s private life and happiness. They found that couples compensated for the time lost with their partners by making the most of time they have after work.
Knowing and accepting that one cannot do it all is an important consideration.
For example, the researchers explained 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.
According to the researchers, “[…] 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.”