Is Stress At Work Affecting Your Relationships?

It’s a common story: Your other half comes home from work irritable, tired and grumpy. The result is often a fight or argument, usually over something trivial, leading to bad feeling and resentment. The lack of a sensible work-life balance can have a hugely destructive effect on relationships, leaving partners feeling lonely, neglected and disillusioned.

In the past, we were told that, in the future, we’d be working less and spending more time with family and loved ones, but, in reality, the opposite has happened. In recent years, there has been more pressure on individuals to work longer hours with higher expectations of effort and input for lower levels of reward including job satisfaction, pay and job security. People find themselves overworked with pressure from unrealistic deadlines that make them doubt their ability, as well as pressure from home to spend more time with family.

Modern life & skewed work-life equation

It’s an imbalance in the work-life equation that has contributed to unhappiness, both at a personal level and in relationship problems which, in turn, affects work, impacting on concentration, productivity and attendance.

Workplace bullying is on the increase, leading to emotional distress, exhaustion, sleep problems, anxiety and depression, all of which affect home life. Even witnessing bullying can lead to fear and anxiety about a worker’s own security and in a digital age, more workers are taking work home with them, checking emails during free time and vacation, so they never really get any time to disconnect completely from work. Bringing work home further devalues their personal life and leads to relationship conflict and disharmony.

In response, some people develop maladaptive behaviours to cope with stress. These include aggressive behaviour, substance abuse, eating disorders, or a pornography addiction. These behaviours, in turn, lead to multiple issues within a relationship, including communication issues, lack of equality when it comes to household chores and a lack of emotional and physical intimacy.

One place stress and fatigue is felt most is in the bedroom. For overworked women, desire for sex wanes, while stressed, anxious men are increasingly affected by impotence and erectile problems, sometimes turning to porn for a quick sexual fix in an attempt to alleviate stress.

It’s a difficult problem. Work is vital in order to meet the bills and look after our families, yet that very same work creates problems within the family unit. However, there are a few things you can do to limit the damage:

Maintaining a happy balance

  • To begin with, always be mindful of the importance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Be aware of what you stand to lose. A person rarely looks back with regret at not spending more time in the office, but will regret neglecting their partners and children.
  • Do what you can to separate work and home. Leave work issues in the office and be selective about what work-related issues you discuss with your partner. That said, let them know if you’re unhappy about something in the workplace. Sharing concerns is much better that bottling them up. They may be able to help by reminding you that “It’s only work.”
  • Switch off before coming home. If you commute, use the journey home to quieten the mind, calm down and relax. Mindful breathing can help. It can be tempting to check emails or do ‘research’ work on the Internet, but when it comes to time off and holidays, make sure you disconnect completely to gain any real benefit.
  • Learn to manage stress. You can’t remove all stress from life, but you can learn to control and reduce it. Identify the source of the stress at work and ask yourself what you can do to improve the situation. That might mean asking for help. Practice self-care too. Try some relaxation techniques, exercise regularly, make sure you have a good diet, get enough sleep and take up a hobby.
  • If you absolutely have to work at home, limit it to a home office or work area. Disconnect electronically in your living and bedroom space.
  • Make time for your most important relationship. Text or call regularly when you’re at work to stay connected. At home take time to relax together, to listen and engage emotionally. Sharing chores together, even shopping together, can be enjoyable. Organise date nights and stick to them. Develop a shared interest.
  • Don’t forget your sex life. Sexual intimacy starts outside of the bedroom so be mindful of creating a romantic space to connect emotionally.

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