Gender, Accuracy About Partners’ Work–Family Conflict, and Relationship Quality

  • Kei Nomaguchi
  • Melissa A. Milkie


How accurately do U.S. couples assess the level of work-family conflict that their partner experiences? With much research on work-family conflict focused on individuals, couple-level analysis is underdeveloped. In this chapter, we examine how couples perceive each other’s work-family conflict, how these perceptions are gendered, and how inaccurate perceptions are related to relationship quality. We develop a theoretical framework and assess our predictions using a national sample of dual-earner heterosexual couples from The Married and Cohabiting Couples 2010 Study (N = 545). Findings indicate that over half of partners overestimate or underestimate each other’s work-family conflict. Perhaps reflecting beliefs about how women “should” feel, men are more likely to overestimate than underestimate, their partners’ work-family conflict. Men’s overestimating their partners’ work-family conflict is related to their perceptions of better relationship quality. Women’s underestimating their partners’ conflict, perhaps in accordance to beliefs about how men “should” feel, relates to both their own and their partners’ perceptions of poorer relationship quality. The chapter discusses complexities for dual-earner couples today, with changing gendered expectations surrounding work and family responsibilities.


Culture Couples Spouse Gender Relationship quality Work–family 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyBowling Green State UniversityBowling GreenUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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