Is Job Stress Impacting Your Marriage?

It’s June, and I can nearly hear all those wedding bells ringing. Couples are marrying at a slightly older age these days (around 28), meaning many are established in their careers by the time they are married.

Perhaps they have given their jobs their priority for some time, and now they’ve decided to marry and share their lives with a partner. “A failure to give marriage top priority is a major cause of the breakdown of marriages in our country,” says Larry Birnbach, psychotherapist and author. He adds, “Fun and romance have gotten lost between job stress, family stress and money problems.”

This is true for many long-time marrieds and newlyweds alike. A recent Chicago Tribune article gives tips on how to avoid the work-related stress that can undermine your wedded bliss. I’ve added some of my thoughts on the topics as well.

Two worlds—Couples who are living in two different work worlds (this includes a working parent and a stay-at-home parent or two working adults) may have difficulty communicating, particularly when one or both is dissatisfied or resentful. Communicate your feelings using “I language” without using judgmental words or connotations. Continue to share a view of your work world and let your spouse feel included in that world.

Unemployment or work setbacks—Today’s economy means no spouse can expect lifelong job security or that their partner will always support them. This lack of security can cause resentment and even feel like a broken promise when you thought you married a certain someone with a high job profile. Support one another through the ups and downs and consider alternate employment by both partners when needed.

Labor division—It’s fairly common for two adults to work all day and for one spouse to carry most of the burden of chores within the home. Yes, the labor should be shared, but avoid the temptation to divide everything 50-50. No one will ever feel like they are getting their fair share. Keep expectations in check, and divide jobs according to what you are best at, what you dislike the least (It’s hard to “enjoy” chores but what can you stand doing?), and what you are fastest at accomplishing. Also, consider what jobs are most important to you to be done. If you can’t stand seeing a pile of dirty laundry, you might make laundry your primary domain.

Adjust priorities—I’ve shared many surveys about the lack of time for the marriage. recently completed a national survey that said 64 percent of working parents reported being too stressed from managing their jobs and families to have sex with their spouse. If you feel you are part of that large group, assess your lifestyle very seriously. Look for ways to cut extraneous activities, change to a job closer to home, consider every option open to you to make changes. Hire help for chores if you can, or assign more chores to the kids. Have a heart to heart with your partner about how you miss being with them and want to work on reconnecting and having regular time together. Block that time on your calendar before other obligations come.

Resolve conflict effectively—Fighting in the first year of marriage is not a predictor of divorce. However, the style of fighting can indeed cause a split. The most dangerous pattern is one partner who analyzes a disagreement while the other withdraws.

Avoid bringing work stress home—Yes, you can share details about your job, but constant complaining about your job while at home is not constructive. Your spouse may feel that your heart is not at home; it’s back at the office. That partner may also begin to view you as a source of stress not comfort. “The ideal scenario for marriage is compartmentalizing,” says management consultant and author Beverly Hyman. “When you are at work, work owns you. When you walk out, leave it behind.”

How do your jobs impact your marriage? What advice do you have for keeping your marriage a higher priority than your job, even though you understand your livelihood may depend on your work performance?

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One response to “Is Job Stress Impacting Your Marriage?

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