• time allocation;
  • diary study;
  • self-regulation;
  • relationship quality;
  • relationship hassles;
  • working time;
  • social support;
  • intimacy

This diary study investigates time allocation between work and private life of dual-earner couples. Addressing the association between positive and negative experiences in romantic relationships and time spent on work, we test propositions derived from a general control-theoretical approach. We also study the consequences of time allocation to work and private life for relationship-oriented needs and goals (i.e., intimacy and social support). A total of 152 persons (i.e., 76 couples), mainly working in academia, took part in our study. Using multilevel path analysis, we found support for the general control-theoretical approach. Relationship quality was positively and relationship hassles were negatively associated with time spent on work. We found evidence for a trade-off between time spent on work and relationship time. Relationship time in turn was positively associated with intimacy and social support. In our discussion, we stress the importance of time control in organizations in order to support employees in their daily trade-off between time spent on work and on the relationship.

Practitioner points

  • We examine daily time spent to work, a variable that is highly important for goal-pursuit at work and in the private life.
  • We shed light on resource allocation between work and private life as a self-regulatory strategy helpful for the simultaneous pursuit of concerns in both life domains.
  • The outcomes intimacy and social support have relevance for performance and dealing with stress in the work domain.
  • Valuing and engaging in face time at work is challenged.