U of I study: Couples, Pay Attention to Your Relationship Work Ethic
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 19, 2014
– Is a date with your partner as important to you as a meeting at work? A
University of Illinois study recommends that couples develop a relationship
work ethic that rivals—or at least equals—their professional work ethic.
enter the workplace, they make an effort to arrive on time, be productive
throughout the day, listen attentively to co-workers and supervisors, try to
get along with others, and dress and groom themselves to make a good
impression," said Jill R. Bowers, a researcher in the U of I's Department of
Human and Community Development.
should be at least as invested in their relationship work ethic, prioritizing
their partner and putting the same kind of energy into active listening,
planning time together, finding a workable solution for sharing household
tasks, and handling personal stress so that it doesn't spill over into the
relationship, the researcher said.
"But that can
be hard to do when you get home and you're tired and emotionally drained, and
the second shift begins, with its cooking, cleaning, laundry, and the demands
associated with children that compete for communication and quality time with
your partner," she added.
effort at work is driven by pay, a person's career often consumes most of his
or her attention. "The job gets all your energy, and there's little left over
for what comes after. That's why you have to be intentional about working on
your romantic partnership," Bowers noted.
researcher is the lead author of a study that evaluated Intentional Harmony,
a curriculum on work-life balance for dual-earner married couples developed by
U of I professor Angela R. Wiley, Kathryn R. Branscomb, and U of I Extension
family life educators.
evaluation measured the impact of attending an Intentional Harmony workshop on
work-partner balance skills and strategies as well as relationship satisfaction
in 47 heterosexual couples. All couples took a pre- and post-test. Half of the
couples attended the workshop before the training; the others did not attend
the training until after their relationship skills were assessed.
attended the workshop improved significantly in their ability to manage
work-partner role conflict and other relevant skills compared to the other
group, and they also reported a greater reduction in physical and emotional
stress. The evaluation also found that the study was most effective for women.
organizational and time management skills can help couples balance work and
family commitments, but "it's complicated," Bowers conceded.
household tasks continues to be a big concern for couples. Flexible work
schedules are often advocated as a way to balance work and family commitments,
but these arrangements can blur the lines between work and family time.
Establishing those boundaries is difficult enough, and not having those limits
can make life even more stressful," she said.
"You may not
feel like you have the time or assume that everything's okay because your
partner isn't complaining, but over time the consequences of shortchanging your
relationship could mean serious relationship issues, and that has real
implications for your mental and physical health. That's why we advise taking
your relationship work ethic seriously and making time for your partner intentional,"
Dual-Earner Couples Manage Work-Partner Interferences: A Program Evaluation" is
available online at http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01494929.2013.851054
in Marriage and Family Review, volume 50, issue 1. Bowers, Angela R.
Wiley, and Brian G. Ogolsky, all of the U of I; Blake L. Jones of Purdue
University; and Branscomb of Applied Survey Research in San Jose, Calif., are
co-authors of the study, which was funded by The Pampered Chef Ltd. and the U
of I's Family Resiliency Center (FRC). Wiley is a faculty affiliate of the FRC.
Jill Bowers, 217-244-0455, email@example.com