When Stress at Work Creates Drama at Home

The Wall Street Journal Published an interesting article today about work stress in relationships, there are some coping tips which can help too. When couples live together and are under stress at work the most common situation is that both or one of the partners unload all their work stress on each other or the other partner. This phenomenon is common enough that it was coined the spillover effect by Sears. M et al.

There are different responses to which people default to when it comes to work stress, most men default to a fight-or-flight response, where they either start an argument or avoid the partner. Whereas most women cope with the tend-and-befriend response, taking care of offspring or talking to a third-party. Interestingly this causes more arguments in the relationship than the fight-or-flight response.

The article describes how different couples learned to cope with the spillover effect. At it’s core it’s important to have strong communication and the following DOs and DON’Ts:


  • Build a buffer between work and home for a calming activity, such as exercise.

  • Listen respectfully when your partner describes sources of stress.

  • Practice asking your partner for what you need to calm down.

  • Reframe job stress in a positive light, as a potential source of a raise or promotion.


  • Dump on your mate as soon as you come in the door.

  • Assume your partner decompresses in the same way you do.

  • Allow your evenings to be consumed by complaints about work.

  • Assume without asking that your spouse wants you to solve the problem or give advice.

Source: https://www.wsj.com/articles/when-stress-at-work-creates-drama-at-home-11563183015