High-Work-Stress Impact on Relationships

“Work stress is the most common cause of relationship unhappiness, with 35% of partners reporting it as their top couples issue…”

There you have it, and therefore what? My high-work-stress client tells me he is doing the bare minimum to get by with his health. I ask where else he is doing that, and he tells me he is doing the bare minimum in his marriage and his business too.

When he adds that he is “lazy,” I feel compelled to interfere with that kind of self-talk. One big thing I remember from business school is that people are rational. And, if they seem irrational to you, it is only because you don’t understand their rationale or strategy yet, and maybe they don’t either.

He is building a start-up, so I offer, “You have a lot on your plate and may be trying to conserve energy; unfortunately, that solution would create the problem that you are trying to solve, because your approach to everything is so blah it depletes your energy instead.”

He agrees that is what’s happening, so I ask him what he thinks of his strategy. He paused for a moment, then said he thinks it is “stupid,” and we both broke out laughing. ‘Dawn broke over Marble Head’ as they say, and we are off and running.

Half-heartedness in any part of our lives tends to deplete rather than energize that part of our lives and every other part too.

2 Techniques for High-Work-Stress Couples 

Happier couples make happier families, make happier children, make happier work. Everything is connected to everything else.  So here you go. Try these.

1. Strategic Planning for High-Work-Stress Couples Worksheet

➢ What has been your best experience as a couple so far?
➢ What does your marriage mean to you? (“who do we want to be?”)
➢ What strengths do you bring to this marriage?
➢ What makes this marriage successful? the core factor that breathes life into it?
➢ What three wishes would you make to heighten the vitality of your marriage?
➢ What one change, over the next three months, would make the biggest difference?

What Would You Therefore Like To…




Adapted from Erickson International, The Art and Science of Coaching

2. Communication Guidelines for High-Work-Stress Couples

“If two people agree on everything, one of them is unnecessary.”  ~ Winston Churchill or William Wrigley, Jr. or Henry Ford or…

➢  Conflict helps us to learn more about each other and enrich our relationships.

➢  Conflict done well can become a welcome visitor, rather than something to avoid or dread.

➢  Conflict helps us get out in front of our problems, and opens the way to positive change.

What are some features of constructive conflict communication?

➢  Spirit of speech is True, Kind, Necessary, Beneficial.

➢  Timing of conflict conversation is when both can attend well to it. Is this a good time?”

➢  Open conversation with calming technique of your choosing to put the ‘higher brain’ rather than the ‘pain body’ at the table: Polyvagal breathing, expression of gratitude, hand holding…

➢ One person opens, the other listens actively, involving eye contact without distraction. If there is distraction reschedule to a better time.

➢ When the speaker has paused, repeat what has been heard to check for accuracy.

➢ The speaker may say “When _____happened, I felt _____ and, unless you have a better idea, and I’m open to hearing that from you, I believe it would help if______.”

➢ The listener validates the emotion, e.g., “I can see how you would be feeling X.”

➢  The listener thanks the speaker for the vulnerability in sharing and may inquire whether feedback would be appreciated, or has need been met.

➢  The speaker thanks the listener for their attention, and responds that the issue has been addressed, or that more conversation would be helpful at this or another time to be arranged.

So many people just don’t know they already have everything they need to live happier, healthier, prosperous, and productive lives. Try out the guidelines above, and let us know what you find. And, for help with this or something else, contact me at https://madelaineweiss.com/

Warm Wishes,


Photo by Pexels Jasmine Carter

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About the Author: Madelaine Weiss
Madelaine Claire Weiss (LICSW, MBA, BCC) is a Licensed Psychotherapist, a Board Certified Executive-Career-Life Coach, and bestselling author of “Getting to G.R.E.A.T. 5-Step Strategy for Work and Life.” sfas

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