Work-family spillover revisited: Is there hope for marital happiness in the dual-earner family?


Dual-Earner Family
Husband-Wife Relationship
Marital Quality
Work-Family Spillover


In the past few decades social scientists have increasingly become aware of the dynamic qualities of gender and marital roles in the family. The changes taking place in terms of both the role contents and role behaviour of especially dual-earner couples have been identified as aspects affecting family life to a large extent. The increasing interface between the work and family spheres, based on the so-called work-family spillover model, has led to the conventional thesis that the non-traditional role behaviour of dualearner spouses and marital dissolution are causally related. The strenuous lifestyle associated with the dual-earner family may therefore have a detrimental effect on marital and familial relationships.

This article gives, in the first place, an overview of the dilemmas the dualearner family may be confronted with. In the second place, possible intervening or mediating variables that may come into play in the process of facilitating a work-family fit in the dual-earner family are discussed. Recent research suggests that these intervening variables may not only help dualearner families to cope successfully with strenuous dilemmas, but may even contribute to the experience of higher levels of marital integration and happiness.

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