February 19, 2012

Stressed at Work? Support Your Spouse

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Chris Galloway, M.D. By:

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Stress due to work reduced by mutual spousal support

(dailyRx News) Everyone knows that it is unhealthy to be stressed out. More and more relationships involve couples who are both working full-time. How can you deal with your own work stress and support your spouse?

There are very real positive benefits of a mutually supportive relationship, like greater marriage satisfaction, greater satisfaction at work, and less negative criticism of family members and co-workers.

Couples can learn the difference between favorable and unfavorable support for their spouse to help strengthen their relationship.

"Hire a therapist to help you strengthen personal relationships."

Wayne Hochwarter, who has a doctorate in Organizational Behavior and is a professor at Florida State University, notes the importance of this research in both home and work environments. “A lack of support from one's spouse represents a major cause of both divorce and career derailment, this research is needed to address issues that affect both home and work,” he says.

The study looked at 400 working couples in both blue and white collar positions. Those who had positive support from a spouse had 50% greater marriage satisfaction and 33% chance of having better relationships with co-workers.

Additionally they showed higher job satisfaction and a lower likelihood of negatively criticizing others.

Hochwarter found that returning to work while still agitated from a previous day’s stress was particularly detrimental to home and family life. "When you're still angry or upset from yesterday's stress, your workday will likely go in only one direction — down," he adds.

It is important for couples to understand that there is a difference between favorable and unfavorable support. Shannon Kolakowski, Psy.D., a psychologist specializing in family dynamics, offers the following advice:

“When offering support to your spouse after a hard day at work, the most important part is to be on their side. Ask questions to find out what happened. Show your are on their side with comments such as, ‘It sounds like you did just the right thing in that situation.’

While it may feel supportive to offer suggestions, hold back unless your spouse asks you directly for an opinion. Advising your spouse about how to handle a situation can make them feel criticized.”

She continues, “And remember, too much talking about work is not healthy for anyone. After sharing your experiences, move on. Having fun together is a great cure for a bad day at work.”

The information in this study should be considered preliminary until it is published in a peer-reviewed journal. The study was funded by Florida State University.

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Reviewed by: 
Chris Galloway, M.D.
Review Date: 
February 17, 2012

Last Updated:
July 17, 2012