We bring our work home with us, and what happens at home extends to the office, particularly when we are stressed. Who hasn’t been grumpy at home after a stressful day at the office, or distracted at work after a fight with a spouse? But spillover doesn’t have to be all bad, according to researchers Leavitt, Barnes, Watkins, and Wagner (2019). This group of researchers tracked 159 employed, married adults for two weeks. The participants answered questions about their experiences at home and at work morning, noon, and night. The main goal of this research was to see if sexual activity at home was related to positive outcomes in the workplace.
What did they find? On nights when participants reported having sex with their spouses, the next day they were in a more positive mood at work. Participants also reported being more satisfied with their jobs if they’d had sex the night before, and this was largely due to their increased positive mood. Their increased positive mood was also associated with being more engaged at work. And this wasn’t just a case of a happy marriage, happy life. The potential benefits of sex persisted even when accounting for how satisfied participants were in their marriages.
But work-related stress makes sex less likely. When participants reported coming home from work feeling too frazzled and stress by the pressures at work to participate in family responsibilities or do the things they enjoy, they were less likely to have sex that night.
These findings paint a picture of the close and complicated nature of the relationship between our home and work lives. Sex may be a mood booster that can have lasting effects the next day such as making work more enjoyable. But if you are stressed or tired from work, you’re unlikely to have that mood-boosting sex in the first place.
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