Background: Perceptual congruence has been defined as the level of agreement between partners on various aspects of their shared lives, including perceived engagement in individual and jointly performed activities. While the level of adjustment made by partners to such activities is thought to contribute to a couple’s sense of mutuality, perceptions of time use concerning activity engagement has yet to be considered. As such, this study will determine the level of perceptual congruence between partners with respect to perceived time use in their respective and shared activities.
Objective: The primary objective of the IP-COUPLES study is to determine the similarities and differences between partners in terms of their perceptual congruence with respect to independent and jointly performed activities. This study will also examine the association between independent and joint activities in terms of perceptual congruence of time use and the strength of this association.
Methods: This descriptive observational study includes 100 couples from Western Switzerland who are recruited using snowball sampling methods. The Life Balance Inventory (LBI), a self-report questionnaire that captures activity configuration congruence, will measure independent and joint perceptions of both time use allocated to daily activities and corresponding satisfaction. Due to COVID-19, the protocol can be administered virtually by the primary investigator. The mean scores of perceptual congruence variables will be used for analysis, namely perceived congruence of time use in terms of independent and jointly performed activities. For the first objective, an independent t test will be used for each variable to compare the mean score between activities on the LBI. For the second objective, the correlations between the mean scores for these activities will be calculated for each variable using the Pearson correlation.
Results: The IP-COUPLES study protocol was developed in 2019 and 2020. Enrollment began in June 2020. Data collection will continue until October 2021 to account for time needed for recruitment due to the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. Analysis and presentation of results are expected in 2022.
Conclusions: This study is exploratory, as it is the first to our knowledge to investigate how perceived time-use patterns with respect to independent or jointly performed activities are similar or different among romantic couples. By investigating the interpersonal perception of time-use patterns among couples, the IP-COUPLES study is an important first step to understanding how romantic partners’ daily activities are contributing to the level of satisfaction as a partner and as a couple and to the sense of mutuality between partners in a romantic relationship.