The grind at work can put a grind on your marriage.
Regarding stress from work, like that caused by an overbearing, abusive employer, Dawn Carlson, a professor of management and the H.R. Gibson Chair of Organizational Development at the Hankamer School of Business at Baylor University says, “It spills over and affects our families.” She continues, “It translates into tensions with your spouse. And that leads to poor family functioning.” She recently led a study about this very issue. (Read the story at http://lifeinc.today.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/12/02/9173368-your-boss-may-be-ruining-your-marriage).
We talk to many husband and wives who express strong desire to speak lovingly, respond respectfully, and engage with energy when they are at home together. When they have prayed about it, determined what it would look like in their home, and set their minds to accomplishing it, they fail. They end up being short with each other, disrespectful, and empty of energy when they are together. They spend 5 hours a day with each other and those hours are characterized by cold silence, bickering, and isolation. What happens between the commitment and the collapse? For many, it’s work.
Whether it’s an abusive employer, crummy co-workers, overloaded responsibility, the night shift, or simply a job one hates, the stress and unhappiness from that job often greatly impacts the holiness of a home. Is this happening to you? Many people see themselves in this Proverb at the end of the work day:
An angry person stirs up conflict,
and a hot-tempered person commits many sins. (Proverbs 29:22)
To get a truthful answer, to really find out if this is happening to you, don’t simply ask yourself. In our pride, we like to think that we cover up effectively. We like to imagine that we are over comers. Our spouse and our children often know the truth, however: Our masks are more transparent than we think and our grouchiness sets the mood more than we realize – and more than we are likely to admit to ourselves. Do you really want to know? Then ask your wife. Ask your husband. Before, you ask, though, pray that God will shut your mouth if any defensiveness arises. Ask and then listen. And then listen. And then listen. And then say, “Thanks for your honesty.” And say nothing more.
Pay more careful attention to your behavior when you get home. Don’t let down your guard when you walk through the garage door – pick it up. Perhaps you could do something different between work and home to shift your mindset from grouchy to godly. The prayers of righteous people are powerful and effective. Good music can help, too. You might consider developing a codeword with your wife so that she can let you know when your are spiraling downward. These kinds of things often have an impact for change, but sometimes the difficulties at work lead to crummy evenings at home even with these attempts.
To change this, you’re likely to have to make some bold moves. Do you need to change your shift? It’s very possible you get paid more for the night shift, but sacrificing your relationships isn’t worth it no matter how much you are paid. Even if you have to keep the shift for a period of time to get some debt knocked out, plan now to change it ASAP. Do you need to ask for a transfer? Do you need to discipline someone that you supervise? Do you need to practice saying “No” to requests for extra work? Do you need to leave work to go home instead of staying for the overtime pay?
Then there’s the big one. Do you need to get another job? If you have an abusive employer who isn’t likely to be replaced, you might have to leave. Do your best to get another job first if your family needs the income, but don’t goof around with this. Make it a priority.
Your answer to those questions may scare you. Again, to change things you might have to make some courageous moves. Remember that you work to live. You shouldn’t live to work, so don’t let your employment control your life and wreck your relationships. Your marriage and family are more important that your current circumstance at work. Do something great for your family!