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Could one of the secrets to a happy marriage be applying the same type of work ethic into a relationship as you might with your profession?
That’s the belief behind a new study, with the authors encouraging people to apply the same sense of devotion and care as they would at work, if not more.
“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,” said Jill R. Bowers, a researcher in the University of Illinois’ Department of Human and Community Development.
This is the same level of attention more people should invest in their own relationships, Bowers suggests.
Bowers led the study based on a curriculum developed by colleagues at the university. Her research was designed to measure how well some 47 couples would respond to a workshop on the concept.
Half of the couples took the workshop only after having their relationship assessed by the research team. The others took it with only a brief questionnaire beforehand.
“A partner should be as invested in a
relationship as they would a job.”
In each group, participating couples showed significant improvement in their ability to handle conflict and a reduction in the emotional and physical stress they experience in the relationship.
The study recommends a partner should at least be as invested in a relationship as they would with a job. This includes prioritizing the partner where appropriate and devoting the same level of energy and concern to them.
This can include behaviors like sharing the household tasks, putting time aside for each other or looking for better ways to help manage stress together.
“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,” Bowers said. “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.”
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