How did couples (whether married or cohabiting) allocate their time? Did they engage in activities jointly, or were they co-located but engaged in different activities? To what extent did they act independently? Did couples schedule their activities to enable time together (or to avoid it)? How did couples distribute various work tasks among themselves, and how did they share leisure?
The answers to these questions throw light on important issues of gender equity and of men's and women's comparative life-chances, as well as decisions or choices about the timing and total quantity of various sorts of work and leisure time for both sexes. The questions were best be answered by diary-derived time use information, the main tool of CTUR.
Some of the studies in the MTUS contained diaries from spouse-pairs, often covering the same days. The Harmonised European Time-Use Study (HETUS) recommended a sample design that produces spouse-pairs of records of diary days. The UK in particular, in addition to its 2000/1 HETUS study, had a number of national samples (from 1974/5, 1984 and 1987, and 1999-2001) which provided spouse-pairs of 7-day diaries. Whole-week diaries provided a better basis for comparing couples' behaviour than the more conventional single-day diaries, since both work and leisure activities generally are organised on a weekly rather than a daily basis. The UK's historical sequence of such studies therefore constituted a uniquely valuable resource. CTUR used these materials to explore change and continuity in UK couples' time-use over 30 years.