Lately, my husband has been frustrated at work. His team members aren't carrying their weight and he feels like he is at the office much later than he should be. For the last week, he's been coming home in an awful mood.
As a spouse, one of the big challenges in a relationship is letting your partner blow off steam and slowing down long enough to listen. I am tempted to jump right in with an opinion or let my mind wander off to think about the 10 things I need to get done instead of focusing on what he is saying. Sometimes I want to shout: "Enough work talk already!"
Yet, I have noticed that how I react when he wants to vent can be crucial to our relationship and to the harmony of our household. Most of us have seen how household dynamics shift with each member's mood. For my husband, knowing he can offload without being attacked or dismissed helps him return to his office in a better frame of mind and improves our household harmony.
I've heard people say, "I never bring my work problems home." I think that it is unhealthy to completely compartmentalize. Physically we may spend the day in two places, but in our minds we don't. We think of work at home and personal issues at work. It's just how we balance our lives today. So it's natural to want to talk through workplace aggravation with someone who loves you and has your best interest at heart.
By listening, really listening, I can gauge what my husband needs from me, or even ask him directly. When I do, I often help him come up with ideas for how a problem at work can be resolved, or get him see the situation in a different light, or just offer empathy. When I have a problem at work, I want the same support from my husband. Even though he doesn't work in the same field, he understands workplace dynamics and worker behavior and has offered me some great advice over the years -- or sometimes, he just listens. Just yesterday, I was at an event in which a CEO told the audience he relies on his wife to help him navigate his workplace conflicts and it's the reason he has been able to survive in the top position at his company.
The trick is learning how to support our significant other while setting some boundaries that limit how much we allow workplace aggravation to permeate our home life. At some point, switching off is important, too. I think it's okay to point that out to your partner.
What are your thoughts on bringing work stress home? Do you find allowing your spouse to discuss work problems at home is a good thing for your home life or does it lead to arguments and stress on the family? How important is it for you to be able to vent to your significant other?