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Study documents the importance of supportive spouses in coping with work-related stress
Date:2/16/2012

erday's stress, your workday will likely go in only one direction down," he said.

Further, Hochwarter identified key factors distinguishing favorable from unfavorable support.

"Some attempts to support your stressed-out spouse can backfire, actually making the situation much worse," he said.

Support that had a deep and far-reaching impact had several common characteristics, which included:

  • Awareness of one's spouse's daily work demands (i.e., time pressures, lack of resources, deadlines, and supervisors).
  • Not "forcing support."
  • Understanding that communication lines are open regardless of the circumstances.
  • Recognizing that distancing oneself from the family or lashing out is not a practical way to foster help. In fact, it tends to bring out the worst in others and even causes the supporting spouse to become distant and act out as well.
  • Being able to bring one's spouse back to the middle up when down in the dumps and down when overly agitated.
  • Not bombarding the family with complaints about minor workplace irritants.
  • Not trying to "one-up" one's spouse in terms of who has had the worse day.
  • Not being complacent continuing to work at it.
  • Remaining rational and not automatically casting the spouse as the "bad guy."
  • Not keeping a running tab on who is giving and who is getting.

"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."

According to one 47-year-old sales manager interviewed for the study, "I had a horrible day, and all I wanted was a home-cooked meal and some time to myself. I
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Contact: Wayne Hochwarter
whochwarter@cob.fsu.edu
850-644-7849
Florida State University
Source:Eurekalert

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