A new study highlights the importance of having a supportive spouse for coping with work related stress. According to a Florida State University investigation, when both partners work, it can derail both your marriage and your career.
Wayne Hochwarter, the Jim Moran Professor of Business Administration in the Florida State University College of Business, examined the role of stress in the household when both spouses work.
Hochwarter said in a media release, the study is important because lack of spousal support can lead to both divorce and career derailment.
Findings from the study that included 400 couples working in blue and white collar occupations showed positive outcomes for stressed out employees with good spousal support, which included 50% higher satisfaction with marriage, better relationships with co-workers and improved ability to concentrate at work.
Spousal support was also linked to 20% higher views that employee careers were headed in a positive direction and work satisfaction.
Adding good support from a spouse was also associated with 25% lower fatigue after work, 30% less likelihood of experiencing guilt over not spending enough time with family and a 30% lower chance of being critical toward family at home.
Hochwarter says going to work agitated from lack of support at home is especially distressing.
“When you’re still angry or upset from yesterday’s stress, your workday will likely go in only one direction — down.”
But he also warns some types of support can backfire.
Examples include trying to ‘one-up’ your spouse about who had a more stressful work day and forcing support.
Hochwarter also says it’s important not to lash out at family about work stress – something that is likely to distance your spouse and cause them to act out. He also says it’s important to continue to work at not being complacent.
“Most important, though, was the ability for a spouse to offer support on days when he or she needs it just as much,” Hochwarter said. “In many cases, both return home from work stressed. Generating the mental and emotional resources needed to help when your own tank is empty is often difficult. Successful couples almost always kept a steady supply of support resources on reserve to be tapped on particularly demanding days.”
From his study, he discovered women benefit most from having a break from household activities. Women need to feel ‘wanted’. Warmth and affection don’t hurt either.
Men want to feel appreciated and needed for their efforts and benefit from help with errands.
Open communication is the key to supporting your spouse when you’re both working.
“What also became obvious was the critical role of communication and trust among spouses; without them, you have a foundation best described as crumbling, even in the best of circumstances.”
One woman in the study, when asked how work stress affects a relationship, said, “Ask my ex-husband”.
The finding highlights the negative impact work stress can have on a relationship. Support from your spouse can keep your marriage intact and has positive benefits for life at home, compared to couples studied who lack needed support.
“In Sickness and in Health: Study Documents the Importance of Supportive Spouses in Coping with Work-Related Stress”
February 16, 2012