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   Home  > Tips

Does your or your spouse's job dominate your home life?

One of the things many of us find difficult is balancing the pressures of our job with the needs of family life. Couples often find the demands of work encroaching on their time together and sapping the emotional energy they have. If one is at home caring for the children, he or she can become resentful and frustrated with the amount of time and energy their partner is giving to work. The one experiencing work pressures can feel trapped, undervalued, or torn between family and career.

One example where a job can dominate home life is in the teaching profession. Peter of COSST (Concerned Spouses of Suffering and Stressed Teachers) writes "School today dominates teachers' homes. In many cases, for a teacher who has already worked for as much as 10 hours with no proper break, school work continues when they arrive home, and often goes on until well after midnight. The job carries on at weekends and into the so-called "School holidays". It is not surprising that this puts a huge strain on their family life as they try to fulfil work commitments and also care for their spouse and children at the same time. Family often takes second place."

"Schools have endeavoured to encourage a family atmosphere and teachers become involved in their pupil's physical, mental and spiritual welfare." Teachers find themselves spending considerable portions of their day sorting out children's emotional or behavioural problems, which are preventing them from concentrating, participating or learning. Teachers find themselves approached by parents with their problems as well as those of their children.

"Conscientious members of staff find themselves working no matter what their state of health and beyond the stage that any other worker would go "off sick". They know the work is piling up in their absence and don't want to let their pupils or their colleagues down." New tests, OFSTED inspections, league tables, teachers appraisals and parental expectations all add to the stress.

Peter says: "In many cases this leads to a number of disastrous outcomes for teachers and their families, including divorce, and serious illness, Concerned (and often very worried) spouses feel absolutely powerless to help their loved ones and can only lend a listening ear to their spouse's daily doubts, fears, headaches and growing desperation."

Peter believes that, unless things change, more and more married and experienced teachers' skills will be wasted and lost for ever, as these teachers are forced for the sake of their health and their marriages and families to give up their hard-earned positions of responsibility to seek lower paid, less demanding jobs in education or elsewhere. The teaching profession will become more and more predominated by the young, very fit and unattached, and the education system will lose the wisdom and "family" skills which the maturer, married teacher can bring.

Many teachers and their spouses who previously have been afraid to speak to anyone about their experiences have been relieved to find an outlet for their woes. After several years as a listening ear for teachers, their spouses and others from all sorts of areas around the country, Peter has come to the conclusion that there is no easy solution. For many the only answer is a clear choice between their job and their marriage, family and health.

If you are facing stress in your teaching post or married to someone who is, and you would like to talk, you can contact COSST.

Whatever your profession, if you are finding the pressure encroaching on your family life, you might consider taking some precious time away with your spouse. A marriage enrichment weekend offers you time together and some input on how you can strengthen your communication and love, and face life's challenges together. More information about these can be found in our Services for Married Couples section.

Tip by Liz Percival


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