For decades, family research has predominantly focused on life course events, such as entering partnerships, marriage, giving birth to a child, and divorce. Compared with that, the everyday life of partners and their routines have been largely omitted, particularly from quantitative empirical research and longitudinal studies on partnerships and families. However, partners’ day-to-day life has an important meaning and impact, for example on the perceived satisfaction with their relationship and on relationship stability. The German time use survey of the German Federal Statistical Office offers a unique opportunity to analyze the daily routines of couples in detail, but has hardly been used for this purpose.
This research project examines the daily life of partners using the German time use survey, which contains data on the time use of approximately 5,000 households and 2,983 couples. The project thus uses an existing large data set to analyze open questions in family research, and additionally contributes to the field of lifestyle research.
The research project has three major goals: first, it aims to describe the everyday life of partners and their routines, second, it analyzes differences between social groups, and third, it compares the actual day-to-day life with the couples’ wishes and expectations.
To describe the everyday life of partners, several aspects of couples’ time use will be considered: total time spend with the partner, exclusive time with the partner, family time, time both partners spend with friends and relatives, quality time, and mere copresence. Furthermore, the activities the partners do or do not do together as part of their total amount of disposable time will also be considered. With regard to social differences, we will test hypotheses about whether the partners’ time use depends on cultural factors and on time restrictions and time opportunities that vary between social groups. In terms of couples wishes and expectations, the project examines how satisfaction with the time spend together is related to actual time use and which aspects of couples’ time are crucial to satisfaction. In addition, the project also examines whether or not there are differences in satisfaction with the partners’ time use between social groups and whether such differences can be explained by differences in the actual time use of couples.