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Build Your Career Work-Life Balance

Long Work Hours Don't Ruin Romantic Relationships

Long Work Hours Don't Ruin Romantic Relationships
Credit: PathDoc/Shutterstock

If you're worried that your long hours in the office are hurting your romantic relationships, fear not. New research finds that there is no negative connection between the hours someone works and how happy they are in their relationships when the other person also works.

The study, recently published in the journal Human Relations in partnership with the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations, challenges conventional wisdom and past research. Previous studies, and common sense, suggest that when both halves of a couple are working, they are often forced to put more effort into their jobs at the expense of their relationships.

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

For the study, researchers examined the relationships of 285 dual-career German couples over a six-month period. Specifically, the researchers looked at the associations among participants' working times, private lives and happiness in their respective relationships.

The researchers discovered that working longer hours wasn't hazardous for all romantic relationships, because in many cases the couples compensated for the time lost with their partners by making the most of time they had after work. The study's authors found that these couples understood that working longer hours meant they would need to maximize the time they spent with each other outside the office. [6 Business Ideas for Couples ]

"There appears to be no trade-off between time invested in one's work and relationship outcomes," the study's authors wrote. "Our results challenge the common-sense assumption about a negative association between working time and relationship outcomes."

The researchers do note, however, that career-driven people who are investing long hours into their jobs are also aware that they can't have everything in their private lives.

The study was co-authored by Dana Unger, a postdoctoral and researcher at ETH Zurich in Switzerland; Sabine Sonnentag, a professor at the University of Mannheim in Germany; Cornelia Niessen, a professor at Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nürnberg in Germany; and Angela Kuonath, head of projects at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich in Germany.

Chad  Brooks
Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.