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At some point in every marriage, we all struggle with stress and the effects it has on our marriages and our communication. But as wives, it’s hard watching our husbands struggle, especially when we feel powerless to help or make them happy. We often take it personally.
Having experienced work-related stress myself has helped me to understand my own husband and his negative emotions when stress, anxiety, or even depression weigh him down.
So I’m just going to list a few practical things that have helped our own relationship and hopefully, you can find something(s) to try. These are things my husband has admitted really helped him deal with stressful times over the years. These are fairly easy to implement, but can really make a big impact.
I suggest starting with a few of these and if you feel you need marriage counseling or even a family therapist, by all means, do what is best for your family.
Encouraging Ways to Help Husband Decompress From Work Stress:
1. Allow him to settle in a bit before bringing up things that need addressing.
There are going to be things you need to discuss when you meet back up at the end of the day, but just after your husband walks through the door after work is not the time to do this. I have even held off kissing my husband until after he’s had time to put his things down and change out of his uniform.
By then, he’s shed his “weights” and is much more open for affection. He needs time to “shift gears”. Some husbands do this on their way home but my husband has to take calls so he rarely gets that time to decompress until after he’s already walking in the door.
If I meet him at the door, it’s to take his lunch pail and make sure his path is clear so he’s not frustrated the moment he walks in the door. Some men want to be greeted at the door with hugs and kisses from the family and others need a moment to catch their breath before they’re ready. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
2. Set the mood for decompression.
Something I remember about working on a farm as a teenager was coming home exhausted and seeing that mom had dinner all ready for me. That was an amazing feeling, especially when I knew I was too tired to make it myself. I felt loved and cared for. I try to remember that when I think of my husband coming home, knowing he’s had a stressed day at work.
Even though I work, too, I get to do it from home so I make dinner. I love how loved it makes my family feel when they come home to a favorite meal. My husband loves my tea, so I try to make sure he has some of that, too. Sometimes it’s the little things that really make a difference.
Food is a great way to help your husband unwind, but so can lighting a candle, having a clean house, etc. Things that you would find relaxing you should try to have in place for your husband. He may not even notice the effort, but it will do him a world of good.
Then, let him talk. Not all men enjoy telling their spouse about their day and not all men are permitted to share that information, depending on what they do for a living. But if he can and wants to, let him talk. Some encouragement may be needed.
There have been countless times my husband has come home distracted and nearly despondent but by the time he’s finally relaxed and starts talking, that stress just melts away. On those nights, I usually let him do all the talking. Us wives can usually tell when our men just need to get things off their chest and it really shows we care when we take an interest in what they’re saying.
3. Keep the house relatively clean.
I used to be a packrat until after my fourth move. That was when I started adopting a minimalist mindset and got rid of everything we didn’t use. When we removed half of our belongings from our home, I was amazed at how much stress went with it.
My husband deals with some of the worst homes out there, I’m talking homes that belong on Extreme Hoarders. I can’t tell you how many times he has thanked me for keeping our home clutter-free, an oasis to come home to at the end of a busy day.
I do not have a perfect home and it isn’t spotless, but I have worked hard at keeping our main living areas easy to clean so that it takes minimal effort to look nice. And this effort has benefitted our entire family’s well-being.
If cleaning isn’t your strong suit or you and your husband both work, hire a cleaner once a week. If you have kids at home, make sure they are helping out with the household chores. This planner has helped many people keep this area of their lives organized.
4. Work at keeping a peaceful home.
If you have ever experienced stress, then you will know just how debilitating it can be. There was about a six-month period where I struggled so much with prolonged stress that my mental health started declining. It was probably the scariest time in my life.
It compounded so much that stressful situations brought throbbing pain in my head and I started to fear I was losing it. I couldn’t deal with day-to-day activities and I knew that if I didn’t change some things, it would only get worse.
The first thing I started working on was creating a peaceful home environment. I started here not because it was the easiest change but because I knew it would benefit more than just myself.
I started first with small tweaks like less technology before dinner, quick cleaning of the house before bed, and prepping for dinner while everyone was at work/school. These were small shifts but very effective. I noticed my stress lessening and in turn, my husband was gleaning off my peacefulness.
We all know how unnerving it can be to spend time with people who are always overwhelmed. If I wanted my spouse to feel less stressed than I needed to be, too. And that had to start with our home.
5. Incorporate healthy habits.
I know trying to get your family to do anything healthy can feel impossible at times. But there is plenty of science to back up the claims that our lifestyles play a huge role in our stress levels. Our daily activity (or lack thereof) can either encourage chronic stress or help combat it.
Physical activity is a huge stress reducer. You might not be able to convince your husband to exercise but maybe you could suggest a walk after dinner. Or taking up a sport he enjoys. And we all know sex is a great way to relieve stress!
Making sure your spouse has proper nutrients is also vitally important. My husband cannot take vitamins so I have to make sure he gets them in his food. If your husband balks at green things like some of my kids do, there are ways to replace unhealthy foods with nutrient-rich ones without anyone realizing they’re eating healthy foods.
I throw spinach in my food processor all the time and my kids never know I’ve added it to dinner. Fruit smoothies with added spinach and chia seeds are a favorite in our home. All it takes is some creativity and the internet is full of healthy recipes that are incredibly tasty.
Even if all you can do is take a moment for some deep breathing together, it’s a start. Also, check out this stuff, it’s pure magic. Everyone in our home uses it and has done more to help us manage stress and anxiety than anything else has. (Use code KimberlyM10 for 10% off!)
6. Don’t press for things to get done around the house.
The best thing for our marriage was when my husband invested in a dry-erase board. It was a small thing that ended up having a big impact on our relationship. Instead of me “nagging” about the things I can’t do myself and adding to the stress he already felt, he added the projects to his board and I knew he would get to them as soon as he could.
We also have a large dry-erase monthly calendar so everyone can keep track of everyone’s schedule and this all but eliminated confusion and stress over trying to keep track of where everyone needed to be and when. It was a small investment that is still paying dividends.
7. Encourage healthy relationships and hobbies
We all need time to unwind away from our daily norms and husbands are no exception, especially during difficult times. But sometimes our men feel they’re neglecting their loved ones when they take that time away. So we need to make sure and encourage this.
You can even solicit help from his buddies, the ones who won’t add to the stress but will help lift him up and encourage him. Have them take him out for an afternoon of fishing or whatever it is your husband enjoys doing.
My husband loves woodworking and is very talented with his creations but it took time for him to find a hobby he loves that also helps him destress after a long day at work. So I encourage him in that pursuit as much as I can, often helping him in a project or just chatting with him while he’s working in the garage.
8. Help take things off his plate.
When I can tell my husband is getting overwhelmed, I try to tackle some of his to-do lists. A lot of the things on his list he prefers doing himself but I will take the opportunity to mow when I can or run some of his errands, things like that.
Another option is to set aside time to tackle projects together. Whether it’s remodeling a room, raking the yard, or helping at work, an extra pair of hands can be a big help. Some of our favorite memories together are when I would take the train downtown to my husband’s office to help him tackle big projects.
Helping where I can have been such a help to my husband’s stress levels that I truly enjoy looking for ways to make things easier for him, even though I’m incredibly busy, too. And he likes to “return the favor” which always makes him happy. Just being there for each other makes you feel you’re not alone, which can sometimes be a stress response.
9. Strengthen your romantic relationship.
When stress compounds in a man’s life, physical intimacy can really go a long way toward combating the negative feelings that weigh him down. Encouraging words, showing you care, affection, and respect also helps to build a man up, especially when he might feel deflated.
This can be hard to do when your man is feeling distant. But just knowing his woman is in his corner can do more for his stress than probably anything else can. Healthy communication between a husband and wife is key to a lasting relationship and this is all the more important when work stress is putting a strain on your relationship.
Love is a powerful emotion, a very healing one. If you need some practical ideas in this area, read How to be More Affectionate to Your Husband for some tips that really help.
And if you are struggling to show love because you aren’t feeling loved in return, there are ways to encourage your husband to be more affectionate.
We may not be able to eliminate the sources of our husband’s stress, as much as we’d like to, but there certainly are ways to encourage our husbands when work is stressful. I hope even one of these tips are helpful to you and your husband, I know they really made a difference in our life.
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