Nearly a third of working married people are cagey when it comes to telling their partner about how much they earn, a survey has found. It also discovered that the greatest work-related strains on marriage are long working hours and layoffs, in that order. The survey, by the Christian Family Service Centre's Vital Employee Service Consultancy, interviewed 510 working spouses. It found that 21 per cent were not candid with their partners about their income, while 7 per cent actually lied about it, citing a smaller amount than they were paid. Asked why they did this, 43 per cent of this group said they saw no need to be open about their income. About 30 per cent said it was because their spouses had not asked them about their incomes. About 11 per cent said they hid money from their spouses because they wanted to build up their own savings. Eight per cent said they were reticent because they feared they would be asked for more housekeeping money. Among those who were honest with their spouses, 19 per cent said living together made it impossible to hide the information. Suen Lap-man, a management consultant with Vital Employee Service Consultancy, said relationships might not be hurt by this sort of secrecy. But he advised people who did not want to disclose their income to explain the reason to their partners to prevent them from becoming paranoid. The poll also found that among all work-related stresses in a marriage, 41 per cent of respondents rated long working hours the worst. That was followed by pay cuts and layoffs, at 22.5 per cent, then the need to often work overseas or on the mainland, at 10 per cent. When a couple's relationship was affected by setbacks at work, 35 per cent said they would do nothing about it or ignore the problem, while only 0.8 per cent would seek help from professionals. Almost half said they seldom or never told their partners about what happened at work; men were more likely to keep things to themselves. Forty-seven per cent said their spouse either did not quite, or totally didn't, understand their feelings when discussing problems and difficulties encountered at work. Seventeen per cent of men, compared to 9 per cent women, said their partners failed to show empathy. More than 20 per cent of women expressed worries about their spouses having extramarital affairs at work, while only 2.8 per cent of men were worried about it. Respondents said the sweetest thing a partner could tell them was, 'I support whatever you do'. The most painful thing to be told was, 'It's hard to get along with you'. Suen said the family service centre dealt with 73 marriages in crisis in the first half of his year, more than twice as many as the 31 cases in the same period last year. He did not give a reason for the sharp increase in such cases. Sweet and sour The sweetest things to hear: I support whatever you do. I'm sorry to hear that you are having a hard time. You are great. I will take care of you for the rest of your life. You are still as beautiful as before. The most hurtful things to hear: It's hard to get along with you. Lets' stay apart for some time. Do something about your looks. I want to die when I see you. Other people earn so much more than you do.