How can I help my wife reduce her stress levels?
March 21, 2012 6:53 PM Subscribe
My wife is struggling with stress levels at work. How can I help her reduce them without patronising her, and at the same time stop being so selfish when dealing with her stress?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (8 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
How can I help reduce my wife's stress levels?
My wife is a high school teacher, and for various reasons her job has recently become a lot more stressful (ill discipline in school, colleagues taking maternity leave and senior management not supporting its staff the way it should). All this is making life very unpleasant for my wife right now, raising her already high stress levels to the point where I genuinely worry that she's going to burn out, hard.
My wife has traditionally not coped well with high levels of stress. She has quite a pessimistic outlook on life and has some anger management problems - a combination that manifests as a tendency to lash out verbally when under pressure, usually at me (because I'm the only person to whom she will show her stress levels).
She's well organised, most of the time, which reduces the problem somewhat, however she doesn't keep good track of the work she needs to do. When she makes the effort to use a todo list, she seems a lot more relaxed, but she always falls back to the same situation: working late into the night (though not always, to me, necessarily) and panicking that she's going to be found out as a poor teacher (which she isn't; I know that this is imposter syndrome writ large; she consistently gets excellent evaluations for her work).
Normally I deal reasonably well when she's stressed. I often help her work through complex problems with the teaching material (she teaches one of the more fiddly sciences), and will readily listen to her vent about her day since I know that there's no-one else to whom she can speak so frankly. She has very little self confidence, and I work hard to shore it up; she has body image issues and is convinced, despite a decade-and-a-half relationship during which I've been nothing but faithful, that I'm one day going to realise what a poor wife she is and leave her for someone else.
I try very hard to be patient with her, and to talk to her calmly when she's yelling. However, the yelling does occasionally wear on me, and I have started to walk away until she calms down, which I'm not wholly sure is helping (and feels more than a little bit selfish).
So, hive mind, how can I:
1: Help my wife reduce her stress levels.
2: When she's stressed, and shouting, deal with it in a less selfish manner.
3: Do 1 and 2 without seeming patronising or passive-aggressive.