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Helping your partner cope with work

Knowing how to help your partner cope with work-related stress is a valuable skill that can be learned, but only if couples are willing to work at it.

"There's no doubt that working people face enormous stress in the workplace today," says Rosalind C. Barnett, Ph.D., a senior scientist in women's studies at Brandeis University.

Dr. Barnett has found that the willingness of partners to help each other overcome job stress is the single most important factor in helping them deal with the fallout from work.

Here are some steps you can take to help your partner, your family and yourself:

  • Partners should schedule time each week, as little as 30 minutes, for face-to-face, uninterrupted dialogue.
  • Partners should talk in advance about how they're going to relieve each other when things get tough on the job.
  • Partners should schedule breathers during the work week. On Monday, for example, Bob watches the kids and makes dinner while Susan plays tennis; on Friday, they trade places.
  • Partners should work to create a relationship that will allow them to admit when they're feeling hurt by a bad day at work.
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