Skills Help Couples Balance Work and Family

Not long ago, Barack and Michelle Obama were both working full-time outside the home while raising two young daughters. The President spoke this week about the struggles millions of Americans face balancing work and family life.

“While we have made great strides as a nation to adopt more flexible policies in the workplace, there’s more we can do.  Millions of Americans continue to struggle day-in and day-out to balance work and family life – to juggle their job responsibilities with caring for a child, an elderly relative, or a loved one with a disability.”

The President said implementing practices like telework, paid leave, and alternative work schedules are creating greater workplace flexibility.  “At the end of the day, attracting and retaining employees who are more productive and engaged through flexible workplace policies is not just good for business or for our economy – it’s good for our families and our future,” he said.

While family-friendly work practices are important, decisions made by couples themselves are key.

A recent study looked at the impact of a nine-hour evidence-based relationship skills training program on 168 participants who reported combined annual household income below $48,000. Eighty percent of participants were between the ages of 31 and 60. Ninety four percent were married.

Follow-up interviews showed significant gains six to 12 months later:

  • 77% showed greater relationship cohesion and stability;
  • 95% improved communication in their relationship;
  • 93% improved conflict resolution;
  • 88% improved physical intimacy;
  • 89% improved emotional intimacy;
  • 93% improved overall relationship satisfaction;
  • 99% indicated they would recommend the classes to others.

The study makes a strong case for the benefits of brief skills training approaches to help workers strengthen their lives at home and better contribute at work. While workers may not always be able to influence company policies, improving communication skills, emotional understanding, and the ability to work through typical marital conflicts helps them stay on the same team, contributing to the bottom-line for their families and employers.

Additional Resources:

National Healthy Marriage Resource Center

California Healthy Marriages Coalition

PAIRS Foundation