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He's your husband, not your business partner. But according to a new study from researchers at the University of Illinois, if you want the best for your relationship, don't leave your work mentality at the office.
In fact, in their study, they found that many couples bring their best effort to their workdays, but often don't put in the same effort at home. Bringing the "hallmarks of professionalism" (listening, punctuality, empathy, teamwork, planning, and communicating) to your marriage, not just your work environment, may lead to a stronger bond between you and your husband, the researchers say.
"The problem is people only have a finite amount of energy and effort at their disposal," the study's lead author, Jill R. Bowers, a researcher in the university's Department of Human and Community Development, said in a statement. And, after a long day, it "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."
But if we treated businesses that way, they'd fail. Marriages, too, says Bowers. The solution, she says, is making relationship maintenance "intentional not incidental." Some examples of this:
*Tackling problems head on, and not ignoring them (i.e., if you're upset that he never takes out the trash, don't let it fester, discuss it with him.)
*Keeping a shared calendar and checking in about important dates and events (including date night!)
*Planning ahead for the future challenges in the relationship (is your mother-in-law coming into town? Does she have a tendency to put you on edge? Talk about it first, and pre-plan a way for the two of you to be in sync.)
"You may not feel like you have the time or assume that everything's okay because your partner isn't complaining," Bowers said. "But over time the consequences of shortchanging your relationship could mean serious relationship issues, and that has real implications for your mental and physical health. That's why we advise taking your relationship work ethic seriously and making time for your partner intentional."