We bring our work home with us, but what happens at home extends to the office, too, especially 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 the spillover effect doesn’t just apply to bad outcomes, according to new research by Leavitt, Barnes, Watkins, and Wagner (2019). This group 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 team's primary goal was to see if sexual activity at home was related to positive outcomes in the workplace.
What They Found
After nights when participants reported having sex with their spouses, they were in a more positive mood at work the next day. 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.
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 the study also found that work-related stress makes sex less likely. When participants reported coming home from work feeling too frazzled and stressed by pressures at work to participate in family responsibilities or do other things they enjoy, they were also less likely to have sex that night.
These findings paint a picture of a close and complicated relationship between our home and work lives. Sex may be a mood booster that can have lasting effects the next day, but if work is stressing you it, it might also be preventing you from taking advantage of one of the best ways to feel less stressed the next day, since you’re unlikely to have a session of mood-boosting sex.
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Leavitt, K., Barnes, C. M., Watkins, T., & Wagner, D. T. (2019). From the bedroom to the office: Workplace spillover effects of sexual activity at home. Journal of Management, 45(3), 1173-1192.