Monday, February 21, 2011

Is An Unemployed Spouse Hurting Your Productivity?

Is your spouse unemployed? Is it stressing you out, making you feel guilty for working, or even affecting your ability to do your own job?

If so, you're not alone.

A new study explored the day-to-day stresses of married couples in China where one partner is unemployed and the other is still working. One of the major findings? We humans are very good at complaining instead of consoling:
"One of the key findings in this study is that couples are better at sharing their burden than helping alleviate it," [Associate Professor Maw-Der Foo of CU-Boulder's Leeds School of Business] said. "If you feel bad at home there is going to be spillover at work where you will also feel lousy. Going into the study we thought that marital support might help alleviate the stress of unemployment on the family unit, but it didn't turn out to be the case."

It's really not surprising the unemployed are offering up a little whine with dinner. It's tough out there, and the unemployed need to vent and to buck up their morale on a daily basis. The person who promised "for better or for worse" is the most reliable shoulder to lean on, and unemployment is definitely one of life's top ten "for worse" moments. It's important to keep in mind, however, the impact all the complaining can have on a spouse or significant other's ability to get his or her own work done.

The researchers also call on employers to be more "sensitive and supportive" to employees with an unemployed spouse.

The study was published in last month's edition of the Journal of Applied Psychology.

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