Helping your spouse with a difficult career

When your spouse's career is taking a toll on his psyche, use these five tips to lighten the load.

Helping your spouse with a difficult career

When your spouse's career is taking a toll on his psyche, use these five tips to lighten the load.
  • Work is called work for a reason: it's hard. However, some jobs come with their own unique set of challenges. Some of our greatest heroes deal with the greatest amounts of stress at work. Military personnel, law enforcement workers, healthcare professionals, and emergency responders dedicate their lives to bettering others, often at the expense of their own well-being.

  • As the spouse of a high-stress worker, you have the power to lighten their load substantially. Check out these five tips to help your spouse thrive in his chosen field.

  • Identify your spouse's stressors

  • Every stressful job is tense in its own way, so you'll need to do some digging to determine what exactly makes your spouse's job so demanding. Professionals in time-intensive careers, such as doctors, financial professionals, and business managers may struggle with balancing home and work obligations. Some careers, such as law enforcement, social services, and therapeutic professionals create an emotional drain that can spill over into home life. Also, anyone working shifts is susceptible to burnout and health problems. You can't know how to help your spouse if you don't know what she is dealing with.

  • Give him time to decompress

  • When your spouse returns from a stressful day at work, don't immediately inundate him with issues. You can work out home problems as a couple, but give your spouse time after work to settle down at the end of the day before launching into a laundry list of problems. Some husbands or wives need time to transition from their work mentality into their home mentality. Don't take it too personally if your spouse walks in the door and is irritable, quiet or wants time to herself.

  • Be a sounding board, but don't force the issue

  • Often, people in high stress jobs see or hear things that are disturbing on an emotional level. Doctors, medical professionals, law enforcement professionals, firefighters, and military personnel face death throughout their careers. These same people may also be subjected to traumatic situations. If your spouse wants to talk about her job, be a willing sounding board. Don't feel like you have to give advice or offer guidance. However, your spouse may also need to handle things in her own way. Your husband or wife may not want to talk about a painful event, and he does not need you forcing a discussion he can't emotionally handle.

  • Encourage healthy outlets for stress

  • Cultivating a home life that is calm, orderly, and predictable can ease your spouse's stress. After a hectic day at work, stressed out spouses need to come home to a safe environment. Also, encourage participation in activities that reduce stress. Whether it's exercise, church attendance, or spending time with friends healthy outlets for stress can prevent burnout and serious emotional problems.

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  • Diligently watch for signs of mental illness

  • If you suspect your spouse is suffering from depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), encourage him to seek help immediately. You can find common signs and symptoms of depression, PTSD, and anxiety at Help Guide. Your spouse should seek help from a physician or mental health professional if she suspects she is suffering from work-related mental illness.

  • As you create a safe haven for your spouse, you'll be ensuring the health of your entire family unit. Supporting a spouse in a difficult career field is challenging and takes resourcefulness. However, your spouse will be forever grateful for your love and dedication.

Heather Hale is a fourth-generation Montanan and mom to three crazy boys.


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