Can Being a Workaholic Improve Your Relationship?

Trying to coordinate, manage and delegate work schedules between partners can be a challenge. Find out what latest studies show about the connection between work and happiness at home.

Trying to coordinate, manage and delegate work schedules between partners can be a challenge. This is especially true when one partner has a heavier load than the other. Working women often feel extremely overburdened, trying to juggle both work schedules and chores in the home. In fact, we typically see working women in movies and television portrayed as snappy, moody, exhausted figures who are constantly fighting with their spouses. But, new research is finding that this stereotype doesn’t actually apply to real life.

A recent study published in the Journal of Family Psychology concluded that working women tend to be happier with their marriages when they are shouldering heavy workloads on the job. The study observed 169 couples over the course of four years. Could it really be that the busier a woman is, the happier her marriage? This comes as a surprise to many busy women who feel overwhelmed by their hectic work and personal lives. In fact, many feel that when they’re busier with work, their marital level of happiness decreases!

However, when researchers from the study looked at four years’ worth of data from the 169 newlywed couples, they measured changes in workload and marital satisfaction. They also took into account how much each spouse enjoyed their work and if they had children or not. The results showed that as a woman’s workload increased, so did the couple’s marital happiness.

This study says a lot about women and their relationships to work and their spouses. Here are some possible explanations for why women who are busier at work have a greater level of marital satisfaction:


  1. A successful career is a solid source for self-confidence. Women who are busier at work feel better about themselves, and therefore better about their marriage. It is possible that as women get busy and take on more responsibility in their career, their self-esteem increases, which then makes them feel better about their marriage.

  3. Spouses stepped up at home and showed their dependability. The researchers in charge of the study also suggested that when women are busier at work, husbands tend to help out more at home. This shows women that their husbands are dependable, even when it comes to domestic matters.

  5. An even level of busy-ness balances out the power dynamic. When women are busy at work, and their spouses are also busy at work, it makes the power dynamic in the relationship feel more equal. Inequality in relationships is a major source of unhappiness. If both spouses are busy, there is a level of equality in the relationship.

  7. The daily separation brings a couple together. Spouses have more quality time even though they might not have quantity time. The old phrase, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” definitely applies here. When a wife is busier at work and sees her husband less, she appreciates him more when she does see him. The same goes vice versa, and therefore leads to more and better quality time.

It is important for couples — especially entrepreneurial ones — to think about this study and evaluate how workload effects their own marital satisfaction. Do you think this applies in your marriage or relationship? Why or why not?

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