Ann-Christine Andersson Arntén is a psychology doctoral student from the University of Gothenburg. She conducted a five-year-long study on the effects of partner relations on work stress. Andersson Arntén said that people's home lives can either help alleviate stress at work or push people over the edge.
“Either you come home to something that gives you a possibility to rewind and recover or you have a relationship that makes you more troubled,” she told The Local.
“If that's the case than you cannot recover, and your whole system physically and mentally will become unbalanced. It will start to become more and more unhealthy and could end up in depression, anxiety, or sleeping problems.”
About 900 male and female participants completed surveys in which they were asked to categorize their relationship in one of three categories: good, average, and bad.
They were then asked to rate whether their relationship had a positive or negative effect on their work life. The results for women were as expected. Women in good relationships had less stress at work, and ones in bad relationships had more work stress. However, the surprise finding was in the men's group.
“With men we found the average group experienced the most stress-related problems at work,” Andersson Arntén explained.
“When we talked to the men, they said that when it's in-between, you have to put more effort into it. You keep doing that until the relationship either becomes better or hopeless. When you get to that point, it doesn't really affect your health anymore.”
The study also found that men were often more interested in the frequency of sex than women, who were more inclined to value the quality of sexual relations.
Andersson Arntén said the survey results also dismiss the myth that men completely separate work life and private life. She said that men are not the only ones who can benefit from the results of the study.
“People should look at the whole picture,” she said. “For employees, there is an interaction between work and family. If the family life is bad, you pay the consequences. You cannot separate the two.”
She also had a few words of advice for people who are struggling in their relationships.
“Sometimes you need a nutmeg of passion, an extra thing to spice things up in the relationship.”
Andersson Arntén will present her dissertation about this study on Friday at the University of Gothenburg. She will also conduct another study in late August to get a better picture of why this study had the unexpected results.