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Occupational Hazard

Do you know someone who brings home their work persona, carrying their work stress home with them and displacing it onto others? Some jobs require a take charge attitude and controlling mindset, yet those characteristics don't bode well for a marriage. Many workers are expected to be problem solvers and fixers which can sometimes annoy a partner and not be what they're looking for at all. Often the objective at work is to remain rational, logical, and nonemotional which, at home, can come across as not caring, insensitive, and cold. We spend a lot of time at work but our role, expectations, and responsibilities there are very different from those in our personal life. Some people have a very difficult time separating their "work persona" from their "home persona." They may feel that they are better at their work role and feel more comfortable with that persona. Perhaps they receive more accolades for their position at work than at home. Or maybe their work persona feels safer and requires less vulnerability and loss of control.

Work environments often require us to be solution-oriented and fix problems. We receive positive kudos for taking charge of difficult situations and providing quick and effective resolutions. Sometimes there is little time to process or reflect on the possible solutions, and an answer is required immediately. Unfortunately, our personal relationships benefit from the opposite approach. Often our spouse or family want to talk at length about a situation and are not looking for an instant answer, but just a sounding board. Another difference is that our job description and responsibilities are usually very clear and specific at work, but not so clear at home. The boundaries are blurred at home and expectations are not always clearly communicated. This may lead us to feel more confident and secure in the workplace and less comfortable in our personal and intimate relationships. When we attempt to control situations where we feel insecure and unsure of ourselves at home, we risk alienating the people closest to us.

Leaving our work persona at the office definitely requires intentionality. We have to make a conscious effort to transition smoothly to an environment of shared decision-making and ownership. Sometimes developing a routine such as changing into casual clothes and catching your breath before engaging into family mode may be helpful. We need to remind ourselves that quick solutions are not always welcomed at home like they are at work. Listen first before seeking to solve. Often asking questions rather than assuming that the other person wants answers is a better option. Sometimes awareness alone can be enough to prompt a person to take a different tact. Remember one size doesn't fit all and we need to adjust to different circumstances and people. Lastly, let go of your need for control and become a team player in your home rather than an individual player.

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