Völker, J., Casper, A., Koch, T. J., & Sonnentag, S. (2023). It’sa match: The relevance of matching chronotypes for dual-earner couples’ daily recovery from work. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology.

Cohabiting dual-earner couples are increasingly common. However, previous recovery research mainly focused on employees independently of others, thereby overlooking an essential part of their life. Therefore, we take a closer look at dual-earner couples’ recovery processes and link this research to a circadian perspective. We assumed that unfinished tasks impede engagement in time with the partner (absorption in joint activities, directing attention toward the partner) as well as recovery experiences (detachment, relaxation), whereas engagement in time with the partner should boost recovery experiences. Integrating a circadian perspective, we proposed that employees from couples with matching circadian preferences (chronotype) benefit more from engagement in time with their partner (i.e., stronger relationships with recovery experiences). Additionally, we explored whether a match between partners’ chronotypes buffers the negative relationship between unfinished tasks and engagement in joint time. We conducted a daily diary study with 143 employees from 79 dual-earner couples, providing data on 1,052 days. A three-level path model showed that unfinished tasks were negatively related to absorption in joint activities and detachment, whereas absorption positively predicted recovery experiences. Furthermore, the couples’chronotype match mattered in the interplay with engagement in joint time: for couples with higher (vs. lower) chronotype match, experiencing detachment depended on absorption while for couples with lower (vs. higher) chronotype match, attention was even harmful for experiencing relaxation. Thus, it is crucial to consider employees’ partners when investigating their recovery processes because employees cannot act independently if they also need to take their partner’s circadian rhythms into account.