It's a common belief that working longer hours can only cause problems in your relationship. However new research has shown that there is no link between working long hours and an unhappy relationship, and in fact even the opposite might be true.
A team of researchers from studied 285 couples in which both partners were pursuing their careers to look at a possible negative effect of long working hours on their relationships. The majority of the participants worked as academics at a university, with the remaining participants working in academic professions such as teaching or law or in managerial or technical positions such as IT consultant or engineer.
"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 relationship. Our study attempts to help answer the question of whether dual-career couples ... should be hesitant to devote many hours to their work when they fear negative relationship consequences."
To answer their questions the researchers looked at the hours participants worked, their satisfaction with their relationship, and their level of self-disclosure in their relationship, which measured their ability to express a need, wish, or want to their partner.
Participants answered three online questionnaires in total, answering two questionnaires to start and then the third six months later.
Instead of finding that working longer hours had a negative effect on the couple's relationship satisfaction, the team found that couples actually made extra effort with each other after work to make up for time lost with their partners through working long hours, leading the researchers to suggest that longer working hours could in some cases even be beneficial for a relationship.
The study was published by SAGE in the journal Human Relations in partnership with The Tavistock Insistute in the UK. It will be free to access on SAGE for a limited time.