Idaho Transportation

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Workplace stress, marriage closely related

From Business Psychology Associates*
When two people meet and fall in love, they often attribute the love and marital bond to chemistry. Imbalances between home, children, finances, work and marriage and the stress that ensues can change that chemistry.

While we do not keep track, nationally, of the reasons for divorce, there is evidence that job-related stress is a growing concern. Recent studies have indicated that as many as 25 percent of divorcing couples site work and job stress as a factor in their conflict. Managing work stress and sustaining a strong marriage are not only possible; both are quite simple. The object is to make the principles of both a habit and a discipline.

Many couples mistake the "worn-out" feeling they have when they get home as a condition of their relationship. That feeling may in fact be nothing more than an empty tank after a long day at work. Tanks get empty when people are not clear and fair about roles and expectations.

If your role is one of always solving problems, being the breadwinner as well as being the one everyone can count on to work overtime, you may be burning your candle at both ends and leaving little to nothing for your partner or spouse.

You may want to speak with an EAP (employee assistance program) counselor to re-evaluate your roles and expectations. You might also want to follow some of the following tips to ensure a long and rewarding marriage:

  1. Make your marriage your Number One priority. Doing this does not mean your work has to drop off. It means any stress you may be experiencing at work will not over-ride the quality of your interactions with your partner at home.
  2. Determine for yourself which aspects of your marriage are most important to you and have your spouse or partner do the same. For example: spending time in social circles, short trips, house work, cooking, exercising, long talks, or spending time with your children may be just the thing you enjoy and value most when you're together.
  3. Do not always try to "fix" every problem or challenge that comes up.
  4. Start by listening. Active listening means you can re-state what your partner said so accurately that they would know you heard them "correctly". We do not often have a sense that people not only heard what we said but that they also represent our intentions clearly and accurately.
  5. Share experiences. Take a few minutes to unpack your workday. Agree to talk openly and freely without either partner feeling a need to solve the others problems. Just talk. Just listen. Be careful to limit the time you devote to this venting.
  6. At work, there are goals to achieve. That is how businesses grow and thrive in a competitive industry. A marriage is not a competition. Relax when you are home with your spouse. Your dining room, family room and bedroom are not places to hold "brain-storming" or management meetings.
  7. Recognize in each other what makes you feel "loved". Do those things actively and together. It may mean compromising. One may agree to go to the theater while the other agrees to go fishing. Activities like these are expressions of our partners soul. Recognize and participate.
  8. Re-establish rituals that may have fallen away such as family dinner, church, reading, long walks.
  9. Remember to touch one another with kind words, special favors, treats and warm hugs.

Seeing your spouse and family as a source of stress can be an unconscious process. Stress is a response to the demands placed on us. Experts suggest that we learn to set limits or establish boundaries on the demands we expect ourselves to meet. The demands of work as well as the demands of a home and family are not likely to ever go away. What we do with them from one day to the next holds the solution.

Many people are learning to "delegate" stress. Turning work stress off with a prayer or affirmation as they leave the office. The idea is to learn to leave "work at work" much the same way we leave the concerns of "home at home" when we go to work.

Your family and your marriage should be your respite. Go home tonight and agree to try some of the suggestions above. Your most special partner in life is worth it as are you.

Your EAP is a safe, free and confidential source for help if you need it.

(For more information, visit the Business Psychology Associates, BPA, Web site at: )

*BPA is the Employee Assistance Program provider for State of Idaho employees.
















Published 3-24-06