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Unger, Dana; Sonnentag, Sabine; Kuonath, Angela (2015): The longer your work hours, the worse your relationship? The role of selective optimization with compensation in the associations of working time with relationship satisfaction and self-disclosure in dual-career couples. In: Human Relations, Vol. 68, No. 12: pp. 1889-1912
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Abstract

This two-wave panel study investigates the associations between working time, selective optimization with compensation in private life and relationship outcomes (i.e. relationship satisfaction and self-disclosure) in dual-career couples. We propose that one partner’s selective optimization with compensation in private life either mediates or moderates the association of this partner’s working time and relationship outcomes (i.e. relationship satisfaction and self-disclosure). Moreover, we postulate the crossover (i.e. transmission) of relationship satisfaction and self-disclosure within the couple. To test these hypotheses, we conducted an online study with a time lag of six months, in which 285 dual-career couples took part. We found evidence for selective optimization with compensation in private life as a mediator: working time spent by partners in dual-career couples was associated with selective optimization with compensation in their private life that, in turn, predicted relationship satisfaction and self-disclosure. Results did not support the assumption that one partner’s selective optimization with compensation in private life moderates the association between working time and relationship satisfaction and self-disclosure. Relationship satisfaction, but not self-disclosure, crossed over within the couples. The results challenge the assumption that longer work hours have negative consequences for romantic relationships.