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Marriage research: Working outside of home does not affect sex life

The Zachariahs say although they both work outside of the home, their marriage is strong  
December 12, 1998
Web posted at: 10:58 a.m. EST (1558 GMT)

From Medical Correspondent Dan Rutz

(CNN) -- There's encouraging news for dual-career couples concerned that their jobs may hurt their marriages. Research from the University of Wisconsin shows intimacy is not adversely affected just because both partners have outside jobs.

It's a finding that runs contrary to what many family counselors have believed.

Dawn Zachariah has sold commercial time for radio for 16 years. Her husband Allan is also in a high profile career as a partner in a major accounting firm.

When they met as teenagers, both knew about each other's commitments to career and marriage.

"You know your relationship is not something you just put on the shelf and let it sit there," Allen Zachariah said.

"I would not want to have to work really, really hard all day and then come home and have to really work hard on marriage," Dawn Zachariah said.

This family helps psychologists prove their point: neither climbing the career ladder, nor staying at home makes or breaks a marriage.

"I think we've had this kind of myth -- this rosy view of homemakers that they kind of sit around and relax all day when in fact, they're working very hard, and they experience sex problems in their marriage," said researcher Janet Hyde of the University of Wisconsin. "They experience fatigue and so do women who are employed full-time."

Hyde and her husband, researcher John DeLamater, have found that sexual desire and frequency are about the same regardless of where couples work.

The research isn't just about sex. The scientists said their work is helping to prove that problems with intimacy often runs a lot deeper than many couples are willing to admit.

"I think a lot of people do ignore their relationships," said DeLamater. "I think a lot of people have fallen into a pattern of taking their relationship for granted."

The study shows couples who blame too much on work are wrong.

"Society tells us that dual-earner couples are just to busy to have time for each other," Hyde said.

Tell that to the Zachariahs.

"We've been fortunate in that we've always kept the relationship in focus and kept nurturing it -- kept working on it," Allan said.

"I think the biggest thing that I find with our marriage and why it's been successful is that we both respect each others' jobs," Dawn said.

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