Photo Hugues Siegenthaler

For women, to stop working has an impact on the couple relationship

A LIVES doctoral student presents in Milan the findings of a study on the link between the decrease of professional activity and the decrease of feeling in love after childbirth.

From 13 to 15 September 2012 is taking place in Milan the congress "Families, care and work facing the challenges of a globalized world: Policies, practices and services." It is organized by the Research Network 13 of the European Sociological Association (ESA): "Sociology of family and intimate relationships."

On the occasion of the session on "The evolution of the meaning of care and work in the families experience," LIVES PhD student Manuela Schicka presents an article written with Professor Eric Widmer, Head of LIVES IP8, entitled: "If I had known our couple turned that way, I would not have stopped working: A biographical account of labour force participation and conjugal love", originating from a study conducted in collaboration with René Levy, Jean-Marie Le Goff and Michele Ernst Stähli.

The paper is about the changing of conjugal love after the transition to parenthood: feeling of being in love, satisfaction with relationship, separation. The data comes from the first two waves of the study "Social Stratification, Cohesion and Conflict in Contemporary Families". The first wave was conducted in 1998 and the second one in 2004. From the second wave the team only took the variable of couples who separated between the waves.

The researchers investigated whether the changing of occupational careers after the transition to parenthood - interrupting, reducing, stop working without restart - have an impact on conjugal love and also what impact the evaluation of the changing career due to the transition has. The basic results are that women are more touched by the transition as their feelings of love decrease when they reduce their labour force. When they felt that reducing or interrupting their labour force was a sacrifice they have a higher risk of being dissatisfied with their relationship. Interestingly, men are not touched by the changing of labour force participation of women and by the negative evaluation of their partners.