Why Texting About Work at Home Makes Your Spouse Hate Their Job

Nothing quite kills the mood like a work email or text from a colleague, but new research suggests that the unhappiness spread by answering out-of-hour work messages may seep into your loved ones’ lives and adversely affect their work satisfaction and overall performance.

For the study, published online in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, researchers studied exactly how work life affects personal life when the two overlap. The team had 344 married couples, all of whom worked full time, complete a survey. The survey consisted of a variety of questions ranging from how much the volunteers used their mobile devices for work-related tasks inside the home to their overall job satisfaction.

Related: Sleeping Less Than Eight Hours Linked To Depression And Anxiety In New Study 

The survey identified a link between people who used their cell phones for work tasks while at home, and spouses who were less happy at work and also performed less well at work.

01_09_cellphone Answering that work text could be making your spouse unhappy both at home and in the office. MAURO PIMENTEL/AFP/Getty Images

"It's really no surprise that conflict was created when a spouse is using a mobile device at home," study author, Wayne Crawford, assistant professor of management in UTA's College of Business said in a statement. "They're sometimes engaging in work activities during family time. What that ultimately leads to, though, is trouble at work for both spouses.”

Related: World Mental Health Day: How Bad Sleep Can Literally Make You Go Crazy 

The research identified a link, but cannot claim that answering work texts at home directly causes spouses to perform worse in their job. Still, this is not the first research to suggest that bringing work into family time can have serious consequences. For example, a 1998 study looked at 232 full-time employed men and women to see how the man’s experiences at work affected the women's stress levels. The couples were interviewed three times over a two-year period. Results showed that there was a measurable crossover effect between a worker’s stress at the office and their spouse’s overall stress.

The researchers of the new study told Quartz that although cell phones are not the only way that people can bring work home, these devices may be the most demanding of our attention. In this way our phones cause the most dramatic effect on our spouse’s mental health.

The solution is not easy, as the majority of us need to work to live. However, giving your phone a break may work wonders to save not only your relationship, but your loved one’s job and happiness as well. In addition the study authors explained that employers can also take an active role in reducing the level that work intrudes upon their employees’ personal lives.

“So, whether companies care or don't care about employees being plugged in, those firms need to know that the relationship tension created by their interaction with their employees during non-work hours ultimately leads to work-life trouble," said Crawford in a statement.

Join the Discussion