By Amanda Idleman, Crosswalk.com
Adulting can be hard sometimes! As much as we may try not to let our work life get in the way of us enjoying our home life, it is impossible to completely separate the two, especially when we face exceptionally trying circumstances. When you've had an awful day at the office or even at home with the kids, it can be nearly impossible to turn that frustration off when you see your spouse again at the end of the day. None of us want to let the stress that is pushed on us due to work problems be a catalyst for additional problems at home; we need the support of our partners to help us put aside the stress from the day.
While we can't ignore the fact that a bad day at work comes home with you most times, we can be intentional about being a safe space for our spouses to decompress. Just five minutes of intentional listening, encouragement, supportive words, and maybe even a quick prayer together can help alleviate the tension that would like to invade your home.
Here are a few great ways to encourage your spouse after they have endured a bad day at work:
1. Offer a Listening Ear
When your spouse makes it home, it can be hard to resist the temptation to dive straight into the dinnertime routine, but one of the greatest gifts we can offer our partner is an intentional pause for you to give them your undivided attention. When they are trying to express what happened from the day that might be stressing them out, it can be very frustrating if you are only half-listening. We are all guilty of getting the dishes done while catching up on the events of the day, but when spouses are carrying a lot of emotional weight, what they require is a safe and uninterrupted space to vent. Be sure to pause together, don't interrupt while they share what is on their heart, and don't offer advice right away. First, let them get it all off their chest before trying to help them solve it.
2. Offer Support
When we listen to our partners, we must use encouraging language when responding to their concerns. Make sure you take time to show them empathy. It is not the time to take the opportunity to compare notes on "who has it harder." Truly put yourself in their shoes. Stress endurance is not a competition! But the struggle to not compare notes in a marriage is real. My husband has often come home stressed from his workload, and my automatic thought is, "at least he got to leave the house without four kids in tow." These kinds of thoughts make it impossible for me to be a supportive person for my husband. If I negate his every complaint because, in my mind, I have it worse, he will eventually stop feeling safe to confide in me.
Suppose you truly are too stressed to be able to offer sympathy or empathy for your spouse. In that case, it's best to just express to them that you need to have this conversation later when you feel more capable of offering the emotional support that they need.
3. Offer Advice and Ask Helpful Questions
After taking the time to truly hear your partner's concerns, now offer some helpful advice and ask probing questions. As the person who knows your spouse best, you can provide some good insight into better navigating work stressors. Take time to reflect together on how to manage the situation better.
Some helpful questions to consider are: What makes you think that is the case? Would a different response be beneficial in this situation? How does this situation make you feel? Are others affected by this dynamic? How are they responding? Can I offer a suggestion for going forward? If you ask before offering your advice, they are more likely to be willing to hear what you have to say.
4. Encourage Them to Recharge Outside of Work
You are not your spouse's only place to receive support and advice. If they face a difficult work situation that can't be changed overnight, help them utilize additional resources to find support and destress. Encourage them to confide in a friend, counselor, or mentor.
Think of some self-care strategies to employ during the workday and outside the workday. Some ways to help better manage stress include regular exercise, better eating habits, daily time spent in prayer and meditation, regular breaks to stretch/rest during the workday, or regular time connecting with friends during the month. Choose something that will help you find pockets of rest that will help you to recharge during the week.
5. Make Your Home an Oasis
Your home should be your oasis from the stresses of the world. Not to say your home needs to be perfect--everyone endures occasional arguments or miscommunications, and our homes always take time and effort to keep up. Still, overall, your home should be the place that you are best able to relax. Find ways to decompress at the end of a hard day together!
For my husband and I, this can look like spending an hour at the end of the day, once our kids are in bed, snuggled up on the couch together watching our favorite comedies. An evening walk or bike ride can be a great way to connect and decompress when the weather is nice. Spending some time playing a game together as a family can help melt away the day's stress. Being intentional about creating space for fun and relaxation in your home as a couple is so important in managing all the weight the world would like to place on our shoulders.
Philippians 4:6 states," Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." When we face anxiety, distressing circumstances, and difficulties, one of the most powerful things we can do is bring our circumstances to the Lord in prayer. Alongside these wonderful practical ways to help support your partner, we must also take time to bring God into the equation. He knows our exact circumstances and has the power to work on our behalf mercifully.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/fizkes
Amanda Idleman is a writer whose passion is to encourage others to live joyfully. She writes devotions for My Daily Bible Verse Devotional and Podcast, Crosswalk Couples Devotional, the Daily Devotional App, she has work published with Her View from Home, on the MOPS Blog, and is a regular contributor for Crosswalk.com. You can find out more about Amanda on her Facebook Page or follow her on Instagram.