Ever think about how being in a couple might impact your work? If you’re partnered, key relationship elements that are important for work and life might not be on your radar. Not currently in a coupled relationship? You might have an interest in learning how to find one that will support your work goals. Read below for some insights on your current or future relationships.
How Does Being in a Couple Affect My Work?
Being in a satisfying relationship can have positive benefits on your life and your work overall. However, being in a couple also impacts how you manage boundaries between work and life. Individuals do boundary work when they decide to segment or integrate their work and life. However, recent research has demonstrated that close relationships can also impact how boundaries are managed across life and work domains.
For example, you might decide on your own that you’d like to separate work and life more. However, you might relate to your partner by spending a lot of time talking about work together. In this case, your individual behaviors might demonstrate a separation between work and life. But, the pattern that has emerged with your partner contradicts that separation. So, when you’re with your partner, you’ll struggle more with segmentation than when you’re alone. This is why it’s important to pay attention to patterns in couples when thinking about work and life.
Cohesion: The First Couple Characteristic to Look Out For
So, patterns that emerge in couples are important for determining work and life outcomes. That means it’s important to know which ones to look out for. The research we mentioned above calls out two key characteristics that you need to pay attention to. The first is cohesion. Cohesion is how coordinated you are in your actions versus how independently you each operate. While it might sound like having really high levels of cohesion would be best, being too interdependent can be bad. When members of a couple can’t do anything on their own, they may be compromising too much in their work lives.
For example, if you are too cohesive, your partner may expect that you would leave a job that takes time away from them. If you like your job role, despite the time spent away, that could be a problem. On the flip side, if you have too little cohesion, you and your partner might make decisions about your work roles that are inconsiderate. This can cause interpersonal problems down the line. Overall, a moderate level of cohesion is best for couples.
Predictability is Also Key for Couples
Second, you should pay attention to how predictable you are as a couple. In other words, are your actions and behaviors pretty set in stone or are you more erratic? Again, while it may seem best to be as predictable as possible in a couple, there are downsides to being too routinized. While being spontaneous may also seem exciting, there are also downsides to having no predictability at all.
For example, if you have extremely predictable, stubborn patterns, you can’t change them to adjust to new situations. So, when something throws a couple for a loop, highly predictable couples have trouble accommodating. However, if you have no predictability, you become too spontaneous and erratic to create a shared approach to challenges. For example, if you sometimes approach a challenge by doing research on how to solve it and sometimes by sitting and crying together, it can be hard to get on the same page quickly. Similar to cohesion, a moderate level of predictability is ideal for couples.
What Do These Characteristics Impact?
Cohesion and predictability are important in couples for determining how boundaries between work and life are managed. But, how specifically does that play out? First, couples that are moderately cohesive and predictable tend to be better able to weather the storm during challenges. Their relationships are more likely to make it through tough times and they are able to bounce back from challenges. This is because they are able to solve some issues on their own, but know when to work together to solve problems as well. They take each others’ views into account, but don’t expect that their opinions or solutions always have to align. Plus, they are able to adjust to challenges appropriately, but also come to a consensus about how to handle them more quickly. Overall, couples are more resilient when they have the right amounts of cohesion and predictability.
Couples who are moderately cohesive and predictable also tend to be more committed to their jobs. They are able to take serious concerns from their partner into account but also think twice before making decisions that would compromise their dreams for the sake of the couple. They are also more likely to respond effectively to job challenges. Couples who are overly predictable might choose to abandon career paths that are more uncertain or ambiguous. Couples who are too erratic might respond in ways that cause misunderstanding when job roles become challenging. When you are able to adjust to career challenges, but aren’t creating new relationship challenges in their wake, you are more likely to want to stick with your career in the long term.
So, do you have a relationship that is too cohesive? Not cohesive enough? Do you have too much or too little predictability? Thinking about these dimensions can help you to find ways to support staying a couple and sticking with your career goals in the long term. Healthy relationships are really important!