A new study by researchers at the University of Illinois urge couples to develop a relationship work ethic that rivals or at least equals their professional work ethic.
"When people enter the workplace, they make an effort to arrive on time, be productive throughout the day, listen attentively to co-workers and supervisors, try to get along with others, and dress and groom themselves to make a good impression," Jill R Bowers, a researcher in the U of I's Department of Human and Community Development, said.
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Couples should be at least as invested in their relationship work ethic, prioritizing their partner and putting the same kind of energy into active listening, planning time together, finding a workable solution for sharing household tasks, and handling personal stress so that it doesn't spill over into the relationship, the researcher said.
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"But that can be hard to do when you get home and you're tired and emotionally drained, and the second shift begins, with its cooking, cleaning, laundry, and the demands associated with children that compete for communication and quality time with your partner," she added.
Because effort at work is driven by pay, a person's career often consumes most of his or her attention.
"The job gets all your energy, and there's little left over for what comes after. That's why you have to be intentional about working on your romantic partnership," Bowers said.