Are your behaviors at work healthy for your marriage?
Sustainability programs focus on doing what is right for the environment, generating profit and doing what is right for our people. One of the biggest issues facing our people is stress caused by problems in their marriages. Divorce is a productivity disruption and cost adder in the workplace. The CDC’s National Vital Statistics System reports the divorce rate in 2016 to be 36.8%.¹ That’s more than one out of every three marriages. 45% of all working days lost are due to ill health fueled by stress from a divorce.² Absent employees delay work. Stressed employees perform poorly at their jobs resulting in quality problems and interpersonal problems within the company and with customers and vendors. Marriage problems lead to fiscal problems for the company. Divorce rates vary by education level and by occupation. Professions such as flight attendants and manufacturing operators have a higher divorce rate around 50%. Scientists and engineers are lower around 18-21 %.³ That means that in every kind of company divorce is leading to varying degrees of costly losses in productivity.
What can companies do to help employees sustain marriages and reduce costly losses to productivity? Companies can help individuals by creating and supporting a culture of family-first. Many are offering their employees opportunities for child care, job sharing and the ability to work from home. Their management supports a work-life balance and those companies have experienced savings in productivity and increases in revenue from such programs. These companies also have counseling options for employees suffering from a personal crisis. However, sustaining a healthy marriage still falls on the shoulders of the individual to behave and work in a manner that will help protect their marriage. Having a successful marriage starts with trust. Trust is the foundation of any healthy relationship and even more important between husband and wife.
Here are some tips and strategies that both men and women can incorporate into their work life to help build and maintain trust with each other that will help protect their marriages.
- Communication – Share your work stories. Discuss what's causing you stress and grief. Talk about your projects, and your ongoing objectives and goals with your spouse. Make it a team effort. Keep each other in the loop, don’t let there be any surprises. Don’t try to fix each other’s work problems, just listen, unless they ask you specifically for help. Never interfere with your spouse’s business by communicating to their bosses or coworkers something you many not like or understand. Discuss issues together and share ideas and suggestions to help each other with their work situations. Oftentimes, just by sharing what is bothering you will help alleviate the stress you are feeling.
- Schedules - Coordinate calendars and schedules and do your best to plan business trips in advance. If both of you work, create a shared cloud calendar and keep it up to date so you can minimize times when you would both be out of town. Sharing a calendar helps build trust by knowing where each other is physically located.
- Financial – Money is a big factor in causing stress between husbands and wives. Often husbands and wives hide money from each other. This is a sure way to distinguish trust. Couples should be aware of the money coming into the household and both should make plans on how the money is used. Spending behaviors vary from person-to-person and controlling spending should be a priority for each. Create a budget that includes giving and saving. Never live beyond your means. Save for the rainy day when one or both of you lose your jobs. Save for your kids’ education and for your large purchases and vacations. If you must live in a smaller house to save do so. If you must drive a cheaper car to save, do so. Don’t keep up with the Jones' because the Jones' won’t make you happy nor do they care about you or your marriage.
- Decorum – Business is for business. Dress and behave in a business manner while at work. Dress in a manner that draws attention to your brain-power and aptitude rather than to your body. This shows respect to your spouse and helps your co-workers remain respectful as well. Avoid lewd behavior and language. Be honorable and trustworthy. Your personal life, your beliefs and lifestyles are for your wife, your family and your friends outside of work. Adhere to company policies and apply yourself to the work you are assigned. Avoid conversations about any topic outside of what will help you do your job or help others do their job. Be kind, respectful and cooperative while working together to complete the job at hand.
- Physical Boundaries – Most marriages break up because of infidelity at the workplace. Working in close quarters with the opposite gender can lead to growing affection toward one another. Affection can begin to percolate between people when personal stories are shared with each other. Telling a member of the opposite sex personal stuff about your relationship with your spouse is dishonorable to your spouse. Discuss these matters with your spouse or close family member or friend outside of work. Many successful couples adhere to boundaries to prevent situations where these conversations could occur.
- 1. Avoid one-on-one time with opposite gender: Couples agree not to travel, meet or eat alone with a member of the opposite sex. This can be challenging at times particularly if your boss or customer is the opposite gender. Whenever possible include a third party in all meetings or meals with a member of the opposite sex. When it isn’t possible, call your spouse and tell them the situation.
- 2. Travel and Entertainment: When you are on the road or out with clients always behave as though you are with your spouse. Honor your spouse when not in their presence. Be careful with alcohol. Entertainment should center around the principles of good decorum. While on extended travel, maintain frequent contact with your spouse and kids. If out to dinner with clients try to be back to your room no later than 9 PM. What good ever happens in the late evening hours?
- Work Boundaries – While at work, work smartly and productively. Know how to assess the time duration of required tasks and have pathways for delegation for those tasks that can be done by someone at a lower pay grade than you. Communicate openly with your boss about the workload to ensure it can be done in the time required with the level of quality required. If not, figure out what added resources are required to get it done. Do this to ensure balance between your time at home and at work. Avoid bringing work home and don’t work after hours and during weekends. This is time for you to spend with your spouse and children. Take your allotted amount of vacation time to spend with your family.
These are just a few suggestions that have been proven to help couples maintain trust with each other with respect to their workplaces. It is also important to work for a company whose management respects and supports helping their employees' families be successful.
Are there other suggestions out there base on past experiences or observations that could also help us sustain our marriages?