The peril of partners with similar jobs

New research shows that couples who do similar jobs are likely to experience more problems balancing their work and their home lives than those in different occupations, working longer hours and being more committed to their jobs.

These are the key findings of a study presented at the British Psychological Society Division of Occupational Psychology Annual Conference in Chester.

Professor Gail Kinman of the University of Bedfordshire examined the impact on work-life balance of having a partner with a similar job.

A total of 291 academic employees whose partners were also academics (i.e. work-linked) were compared with 350 academics whose partners did different work.  Levels of work-life conflict and the strength of the boundary between work and home were measured, together with average working hours, commitment to the job and organisational support for work-life balance.

Findings revealed that academics with a ‘work-linked’ partner tended to have more problems with work-life balance, work longer hours and be more committed to their job than those whose partners did different work.  This study was followed up with 32 on-line interviews with academics with work-linked partners. The findings highlighted the benefits as well as the risks of doing similar work to your partner.

Professor Kinman said:

“An increasing number of couples are employed in similar occupations - this is particularly common for people working in education.  The findings of these studies suggest that doing similar work to your partner means that work issues are more likely to spill over into home life and threaten work-life balance. However, evidence was also found that having a partner who does similar work can be beneficial as this can enhance mutual understanding of working conditions and increase support during stressful times.  Nonetheless, the findings suggest that work-linked couples may need more support to help them set boundaries between work and home.”