Balancing Work And Home
Work-life balance can be tricky for a number of reasons.
It can be that you love your job or business, and so spend way more time working than you do focusing on your family and your wellbeing.
You might have a boss that is always expecting too much of you.
You might have a newborn or young children who are taking up a lot of your focus and energy at home.
Or maybe you’re trying to block out things that are making you unhappy and so you’re overloading yourself with excessive work at home or at the office.
So if you have a spouse/partner, and perhaps also children, how do the two different responsibilities, responsibilities at work and at home, affect you and your partner? Researchers set out to uncover the answers.
Research Into Spillover And Crossover Effects Of Work-Family Conflict
Researchers studied Wave 8 (2015-2016) of the German Family Panel (started in 2008-2009), looking at data taken from married and cohabiting couples where both spouses/partners were employed (1,043 married and 323 cohabiting couples). 
They looked at work-to-family conflict, where a person’s work role can hinder a person’s role in the family domain for example, working extra hours to meet a deadline and so missing an important family occasion; and family-to-work conflict, whereby a person’s family role can hinder their work role, for example, being considerably sleep-deprived due to caring for a newborn baby and so underperforming in a work meeting.
Here are some of their key study findings:
- Looking at both married and cohabiting couples, only work-to-family conflict (e.g. working extra hours to meet a deadline and so missing an important family occasion) negatively impacted work-related outcomes, e.g. job satisfaction.
- Again for both married and cohabiting couples, only family-to-work conflict (e.g. being considerably sleep-deprived due to caring for a newborn baby and so underperforming in a work meeting) negatively impacted family-related outcomes, e.g. relationship satisfaction.
- For the 1,043 married participants, those who had higher levels of work-to-famiy conflict (e.g. having to work late to meet a work deadline and so missing an important family occasion), had lower job satisfaction, relationship satisfaction, and worse mental health.
- The spouses of the married participants who had work-to-family and family-to-work conflict, were also negatively impacted in their job satisfaction and relationship satisfaction, respectively, too.
- The spouses of married participants who had family-to-work conflict also experienced a negative impact on their mental health too.
- Married men’s mental health was greater affected by their own work-to-family conflict than married women’s mental health was about their own work-to-family conflict.
Results suggest that the very domains that have an imbalance become the domains of discontent: too much strain from work commitments affected individuals job satisfaction whilst too much strain from home commitments affected individuals relationship satisfaction. The same domains bear the brunt of the negative feelings that ensue as a result.
There was a strong crossover of negative effects for spouses but not cohabiters. Highlighting the more interdependent existence spouses have and the longer-term focus that comes more readily with being married. Perhaps the cohabiters in this sample have a more short-term mindset about their relationship and so experience less empathy-driven effects and perhaps less of an impact on their more independent existence within their home. The cohabiters may also have been together for reasons of convenience, e.g. saving money on their individual bills and having some help with responsibilities, than for a life long commitment to each other (with shared bills and shared responsibilities).
So whether you need to achieve a work-life balance just for yourself, or for yourself and your partner’s sake, let’s look at 5 tips to help you to improve your relationship satisfaction and mental health.
5 Tips For A Work-Life Balance That Improves Relationship & Mental Health
1. Replace Pressure With Appreciation
Take the pressure off your spouse allowing them to excel at work guilt-free so that they feel satisfied in their job, more effortlessly earn an income for your family of 2 or more, happy, and are mentally healthy. Make your partner feel appreciated for the effort they put into caring for your family unit and they’ll do it with care and love and strive for a good work-life balance, themselves.
2. Balance Responsibilities With Joint Solutions
Take the pressure off your spouse at home by helping out more if you can or by getting help from others – e.g. splitting household chores, asking a parent to babysit occasionally, or hiring a cleaner – so that they feel satisfied with their home life and performance at work, and feel satisfied in your relationship as a result.
3. Integrate Me-Time Into The Mix
Make sure you both carve out time for self-care especially some me-time each and support each other in that. And if you think you don’t have time for me-time, then you definitely need me-time. The thing is, if you have me-time, it will be as though you do have more time as you will work more efficiently, quickly and happily. Use me-time for rest, speed and feeling more resilient.
4. Enjoy The Present Moment
Be fully present and enjoy the moment. When you’re having family time, make it purely about family time. When you’re at work, make it purely about work. It will make you calmer, happier, more focused, more productive, and then when you switch to the other aspect of your life, e.g. you’ve come home after being productive at work, you can truly enjoy that time because you’re not worrying about what you didn’t get done at work because you (hopefully) completed your work to-do list with focus. Similarly, when you go to work you can feel content in the knowledge that you thoroughly enjoyed your family time and can spend the time at work feeling motivated to achieve your work goals so that you can have more family time, and do it bigger and better if you want to, more date nights, more holidays, more children, more everything.
5. Create A Balance Between You
Distribute your mutual commitments fairly. If one works much harder in their job than the other, either in terms of hours of work or the nature of the work being more mentally/physically intensive, then the other partner can take on a greater proportion of the household duties, which again are divided based on time and effort level required. But also incorporate another factor into how you split your mutual commitments: play to your strengths. That might mean things that you’re naturally better at. That might also mean things that you enjoy much more than your partner enjoys or find way more easy than they do.
Balance For You, Balance For Them, Balance For Your Relationships
Sit and discuss the above 5 tips with your partner and decide together how you can improve your balance accordingly to benefit both of you simultaneously.
Strive for balance and fairness in all areas and you’ll easily and appreciatively slot everything into place and feel (more) satisfied with your work, your relationship and your mental health.
1. Yucel, D., & Latshaw, B. A. (2020). Spillover and Crossover Effects of Work-Family Conflict among Married and Cohabiting Couples. Society and Mental Health, 10(1), 35-60. https://doi.org/10.1177/2156869318813006