Working Too Much Doesn't Ruin Your Relationship, New Study Says, But These Things Can

To anyone who’s ever dated someone who’s given the excuse that they’re too busy with work to maintain an actual relationship, science says, that’s total BS. In fact, as a new study published in the journal Human Relations found, there is no negative association between the hours one works and relationship satisfaction.

Dana Unger of ETH Zurich, Switzerland and her team of researchers from several universities in Germany, studied 285 couples to determine the effect working hours had on romantic relationships. As they noted in their study, “conventional wisdom and research” has suggested that partners who both work must decide whether to place more importance on their careers or relationships. The assumption is, one must suffer in order for the other to thrive.

But when researchers studied the associations between the participants’ working time, private lives and overall happiness in their relationships, it was found that couples actually compensated for lost relationship time at work by making the most out of the time spent with their partners after work. As it is, career-driven people who invest long hours into work and actively pursue their career goals are very aware that they can’t have everything in their private lives. Because of this, their “relationship goals” tend to be much lower. When their relationship goals are lower and achievable, relationship satisfaction is higher. Neither partner feels like they are failing the other.

As this study has found, working too much doesn’t actually affect your relationship unless you let it. But here are five everyday things that could:

1. Your Commute

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A 2011 study conducted by researchers from Umea University in Sweden found that a 45-minute commute each way increases the likelihood that a couple will break up by about 40 percent. Researchers studied two million couples over a span of 10 years and found that the relationship costs of traveling for work may actually outweigh the monetary gains. As the study pointed out, if one partner commutes further for work, the other might get stuck with household duties, putting the equality of household and familial responsibilities out of balance.

2. Your In-Laws

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If you’re not BFFs with your partner’s mom, then don’t worry. That might actually be a good thing. According to a 2012 study conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research, hetero couples were found to have a 20 percent higher chance of breaking up when a woman was close with her partner's parents. However, when a man reported to being close with his wife’s parents, the divorce risk actually decreased by 20 percent. According to the study, women tend to like it when men can fully integrate themselves into their families. But some men may see it as a manipulative move on their partner’s end to try and change him.

3. Your Meds

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Certain medications can have side effects that can alter your mood and behavior. As a 2014 University of California, San Diego study found, two common types of antidepressants were found to negatively effect some users’ love lives. In a study of 192 depression patients, the use of antidepressants seemed to influence the love people had for their partners, causing losses of sex drive and romantic feelings.

4. Being Hangry

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Leave no lunch behind! According to a 2014 study by the The Ohio State University of 107 married couples, being hangry (hungry + angry) is linked to marital arguments, confrontations and even domestic violence.

5. Your Smartphone

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It’s no secret that many people believe technology is a relationship killer. As a 2012 University of Essex study found, couples who tried to have conversations with their partners while their cell phones were close by, felt less trust and empathy from their partners.

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