Survival Tips, Part 1

I’ve been reading a book I picked up in our MOPS library.  (I read a lot, and I read this one so fast it didn’t even make it onto my list at the right!)  Anyways, it’s “What’s a Smart Woman Like You Doing in a Place Like This” by Dr. Mary Ann Froehlich.  I’d highly recommend it to any woman who once considered herself a “career woman” and now finds herself as a stay-at-home-mom. 

One chapter really caught my attention – it was titled Avoiding the Stressaholic Syndrome.  She defines a stressaholic as someone who is addicted to stress, who cannot stop, who feels a constant need to be productive, and pushes him/herself far beyond what what any human being should be expected to accomplish.  It talked about both avoiding it in yourself, and how to deal with it in your spouse. 

I am married to a stressaholic (Dave, if you’re reading this, sorry to break it to you this way!).  He works.  A lot.  Even at home, after having spent 12 or more hours at work already.  I have struggled with this quite a bit. 

This book has some really great survival tips for living with an overstressed spouse.  Here they are (any italics you see are mine that I’ve added for emphasis):

  1. You must be committed 100 percent to the relationship (50/50 may be fair but it’s not biblical).
  2. You cannot change your spouse.  Do not add to his pressures by trying.  Accept him unconditionally.
  3. Do not spend what little time you have together arguing about the time you don’t have with him.
  4. Plan family tradition times he won’t want to miss.  If he can’t come home, take the party to him.  For example, take a picnic to his office or meet him for dinner.
  5. Eliminate chores and other stresses around the house for him so that he can spend time at home with the children.
  6. Consistently remind your children of their good memories of their dad when he is out of town or working late at night.  Communicate to them how much he loves them.  Keep him part of the family when he’s absent.  Expressing your frustrations to your children will only hurt your children.
  7. To fight your loneliness, develop an informal support group of wives in the same situation.  Meet for dinner with your children.
  8. Communicate openly (not critically) about your feelings.  Being the “silent martyr” can make for peace on the homefront, but it has disastrous results on a relationship.
  9. Continue your relationship by sending your husband cards or other surprises.  Initiate planning times to spend as a couple.  Work at being a part of his life despite his schedule.
  10. Develop your own professional specialization to constructively fill up lonely hours and not depend on or pressure your husband to meet all your human self-esteem needs.
  11. Be involved in your husband’s activities when possible, but do not fall into the same stressaholic patterns.  Encourage his interests which can include the whole family.

Yikes – several of these tips really challenge me.  However, I do think they’ll be helpful to me, and maybe to you as well.  The first one – about the idea of 50/50 not being biblical is huge.  I think if I could remember and really take this one to heart, the rest would be simple.

Come back soon to read part 2 of this post!

Are either you or your spouse a stressaholic?  How do you deal with it in your own life?

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