Study: Women balance supporting their partners with demanding work better than men

Being present and supportive to your partner after a terrible, hard day at work is not easy for anyone, but a new study suggests that women may be better at stopping work demands from hurting their relationships with their partners. A new paper in the Journal of Applied Psychology found that women report less of a negative spillover effect from their work when they get home.

Women do not let work demands stop them from supporting partners, but men do

The researchers asked 26 heterosexual working couples who had been together an average of 17 years to answer questions about their workloads and emotional support to each other immediately after work and right before bedtime.

They found that “husbands’ work demands were negatively related to family relationship quality through reduced emotional support provided to their wives.” When men had more demanding work days, the men offered less emotional support to their wives and their partners corroborated this lack of support. But when women had hard days at work, there was no negative effect on their relationships at home.

And on good days at work, women were better able to carry that positive energy into their relationships. When women said they got support from their colleagues during the day, they said they supported their husbands more, and husbands agreed that the quality of the family relationship was higher on those days. “Wives’ work resources were positively related family relationship quality through enhanced emotional support provided to their husbands,” the study found.

The same was not found for men.

“The findings suggest that relative to men, women prevent role demands from reducing the support they provide in another role,” the researchers concluded.