7 Ways to Stop Work Stress from Ruining Your Marriage

There is no doubt that work stress has become an increasing factor in marital dissatisfaction. Today couples work on average a thousand more hours each year than people did thirty years ago. This number tends to increase further in expat cities as well as if you are an entrepreneur. All the extra work means that there is less time for talking, relaxing, eating and even sleeping. It is all too easy for stress to get the better of us and either withdraw or argue.

Not all couples get frustrated with work for interfering with their home life and responsibilities, quite often it can be the other way round. Some resent and blame their spouse and home life for interfering in their ability to perform at work. Clearly the stress either way is not healthy for individuals and their relationships.

This is what I call the stress cycle. Stress at work causes stress at home and then the stress of neglecting the home and our health, affects work performance, which in turn causes further stress at work. This can also lead bad habits to develop, habits which may relieve stress in the short-term but affect work, home and stress negatively long-term. What do I mean? Over drinking, eating, spending, sleeping all can impact the marriage.


1, Don’t Take Things Personally
If you or your spouse, come home with a dark cloud over your head and when asked “what’s wrong?” growl, shrug or reply “I don’t want to talk about it” don’t take it personally. You will be doing you and the relationship a huge favor if you are able to simply let this go. The last thing either of you need is hostility when you get in the door after a stressful day. Let them respond how they want to and don’t hold a grudge.

2, Get Perspective
If you are feeling suddenly outraged by something your spouse did or didn’t do, recognize that you may have blown things way out of proportion because you’re feeling tense. Ask yourself “is this really worth a battle over?” “Will bringing this up now benefit me or the relationship?”

3, Create an Unwinding Ritual

Some like to come home and go straight onto their lap top and start watching funny videos or reading news. Others like to unwind by chatting, having a drink or exercising as soon as they get in. Personally I like to sit in silence and write a list of what I need to do the next day, so it is out of my head, leaving me ready to engage in the evening.
Some couples unwind best when they do something together, whether that is a massage, cooking, cleaning or talking. Only once you both have had the time you need to unwind and feel composed, is it a good time to discuss the stress of the day.

4, Allow an Open Whining Session But Limit the Time

If your spouse has had a terrible day, let them share the catastrophes that occurred. ALWAYS be supportive, understanding and non-judgmental. Never say they shouldn’t feel the way they feel, that it doesn’t matter and NEVER side with their colleagues or boss. After a stressful day, all you and they really need is someone to listen and be on your side.
Make sure you fully listen to each other as well. There is nothing worse than opening up about a difficult day to find your other half, not paying attention or distracted by something on TV or their phone. It’s insulting and can ruin communication for the night.
Whilst it can be beneficial to share the stressors of the day, constantly talking about work can drive each other mad. Limiting the “whining session” to a 30 minute debrief will help you avoid spending the whole night complaining about work problems.

5, Only Give Advice if Asked for it

Many couples when discussing work problems get into arguments where one tells the other what to do in their attempt to fix the problem. Giving advice unless we are specifically asked for it doesn’t go down well. When someone starts telling us what to do, it can feel like they want us to shut up, they don’t understand or think we are incapable of resolving the situation. Sometimes we can get frustrated at their advice, because if it truly was that simple, we would have fixed the problem already ourselves. So I recommend you avoid giving advice, show interest and instead ask them, if they want you to help in anyway.

6, Balance Negative with Positive
Once you’ve got the stressful stuff out in the open. Help each other feel better by talking about non-stressful things or being affectionate. Laughing, joking, gossiping, planning your weekends and holidays -all create a good feeling inside. They also bring you closer together. Watching comedy or reminiscing over the good old days can be a great way to laugh off the stress of the day.

7, Disconnect from Electronic Devices for a Bit

It is truly amazing what technology can do these days and how this has transformed the way we communicate and live. Whilst some switch on their devices to de-stress after work others continue to work. If work is an area of stress in your life, by continuing to work in your home and around your spouse you run the risk of bringing in more tension.
Strategies that have helped couples I’ve worked with include; an hour break set aside for dinner and talking time or having a switch off point 9pm or 10pm. Others have agreed check times and then switch off.

I know that some employers and clients expect us to be contactable all the time, and we must do what we need to do to keep and excel in our jobs. But many share that they often cannot do anything about the email until the next day anyway, so why bother reading the emails twice and essentially doubling your working time

With the work day becoming increasingly longer and socializing out of work hours expected in some cultures, work stress if not managed effectively can undoubtedly come between a married couple if you let it. But you can also use it to bring you closer together through sharing and supporting one another. If work stress becomes chronic or has led to depression and marriage problems, I recommend you seek marriage support to help you reconnect and save your marriage, before it's too late.

From my heart to yours,


P.S If you found this article useful, you may also like my free e-book "7 Secrets to Saving Your Marriage"

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