Couples who compete with each other over who has had the worse day or bombard the family with their workplace problems may be on the road to divorce, experts have warned.
According to researchers, with both husbands and wives working outside the home, coping with daily office stress can take its toll on the marriage unless the couple is willing to support each other. A study conducted by the Florida State University College of Business, examined the role of support in households where daily stress is common to both spouses.
Wayne Hochwarter, the lead author, studied 400 working couples and asked them about their relationship and stress levels. "Given that 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," the Telegraph quoted Hochwarter as saying.
Couples with the highest levels of support at home were more satisfied with their marriage, were more likely to say that they had a good relationship with their colleagues and concentrated better at work. They were also less likely to say they were tired after work, be guilty about neglecting their family and were less critical of their spouse and children.
"When you're still angry or upset from yesterday's stress, your workday will likely go in only one direction down," Hochwarter said. Common elements of the most supportive relationships were that each spouse was aware of the daily work demands on the other, they felt they could talk any time, did not try to distance themselves, did not bombard the family with minor work irritations and did not try to compete with who had had the worse day.
"Most important, though, was the ability for a spouse to offer support on days when he or she needs it just as much. "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.
"When stress enters any relationship, it has the potential to either bind people together or break them apart. "Findings strongly confirm this with respect to job tension. 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," he added.