Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Time for Each Other: Work and Family Constraints among Couples

Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Time for Each Other: Work and Family Constraints among Couples

Article excerpt

There is evidence that couples try to coordinate their schedules (e.g., Hamermesh, 2002; Sullivan, 1996), that shared time is important for marital well-being (e.g., Daly, 2001; Gager & Sanchez, 2003; Milkie & Peltola, 1999), and that the quality of marital relationships is associated with the quality of parent-child relationships (e.g., Jekielek, 1998; Malinen et al., 2010). Yet the focus of most research on time spent with others has focused on parent-child time (e.g., Bianchi, 2000; Sayer, Bianchi, & Robinson, 2004); the examination of the time spouses spend together has been scarce. In this study, we addressed two specific questions: (a) How are thecompetingdemandsofworkandfamilyassociated with couples' shared time and (b) how is couples' shared time tied to well-being-that is, happiness, meaning, and stress?

Although couples' joint engagement in daily activities is positively associated with marital well-being (Amato, Booth, Johnson, & Rogers, 2007; Booth, Johnson, White, & Edwards, 1985, 1986; Crawford, Houts, Huston, & George, 2002; Gager & Sanchez, 2003; Hill, 1988; White, 1983; Zuo, 1992), work and family demands, as well as the competing devotions they require (Blair-Loy, 2003), constrain the time couples can spend together. Indeed, studies suggest that time with a spouse may be sacrificed to manage work and parenting demands (Bianchi, Robinson, & Milkie, 2006; Claxton & Perry-Jenkins, 2008; White 1983; Wight, Raley, & Bianchi, 2008). Paid workers have reported that time with a spouse is limited, which affects their marital relationships (Bianchi et al., 2006; Nomaguchi, Milkie, & Bianchi, 2005; Roxburgh, 2006). Women's time with children, on the other hand, has remained stable over the past 50 years despite women's greater participation and hours spent in the labor market (Bianchi, 2000; Bianchi & Milkie, 2010; Sayer et al., 2004), yet parents' marital satisfaction is lower than that of nonparents (e.g., Dew & Wilcox, 2011; Twenge et al., 2003). Therefore, a better understanding of couples' shared time and how they feel about it is of great importance for the well-being of many Americans.

Despite the challenges contemporary couples face in finding time for one another, scholars have devoted only limited attention to the systematic analysis of couples' shared time. The majority of the research on marital interaction is based on responses to stylized questions in which an individual reports how often or how long he or she did something with a spouse during a given reference period, typically a week, month, or year. Evidence suggests that time diary data are a better mechanism for capturing information on time spent with a spouse (Hamermesh, 2002, 2005), yet only a limited body of research has used this type of data to examine marital interaction. Previous research on couples' shared time using time diary data has investigated leisure activities (Barnet-Verzat, Pailhé, & Solaz, 2010; Voorpostel, van der Lippe, & Gershuny, 2009), time spent alone with a spouse in any kind of activity (Dew, 2009), and total shared time as well as shared time in different types of activities (Kingston & Nock, 1987; Mansour & McKinnish, 2014). On the basis of our review of the literature, only two studies-Wight et al. (2008) and Bianchi et al. (2006)-have investigated both total time spent with a spouse and time alone with a spouse. Wight and colleagues did so in the context of nonstandard work arrangements, and Bianchi and colleagues conducted bivariate analyses of differences in shared time among working parents between 1975 and 2000.

In this study, we investigated the time couples spend together and associations with work and family demands, thereby contributing a thorough investigation to a sparse literature on an important topic. We build on a somewhat dated (Kingston & Nock, 1987) and limited set of knowledge about couples' shared time (Barnet-Verzat et al. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.