Sunday, July 5, 2009

Relationship Stress Goes to Work

From a story by Ken Potts in the Daily Herald:

Most company-sponsored health plans do not cover marital therapy. The assumption seems to be that marital issues do not really impact job performance and, thus, should not be part of job-related health insurance. There is also a concern that marriage therapy goes on forever and doesn't really accomplish much.

Though the second assumption as to the effectiveness of marital therapy has been debunked more than a few times, the first assumption has been stubbornly held on to for decades. Employees leave their home life at home, or at least they should. Work is for work!

Of course, we all know from our own experience that is not true, but somehow that hasn't change our minds. Or, at least, until recently.

Research completed at a major university concluded that troubled marriages cost the economy $2.9 billion a year. That's right - $2.9 billion.

The study suggested that stress is known to weaken the immune system. Any relational struggles, but marital conflict in particular, result in a significant increase in stress for the people involved. The research suggested that marital-related stress resulted in a significant increase in illness and in the use of sick days by employees.


FridaWrites said...

One way in is to get counseling appointments for one partner, if those are covered, and then have the other partner attend those appointments (with the counselor's approval). It's not ideal and creates an imbalance, but when health matters are already involved, counseling can also help with dealing with the changes or with caregiving.

wellspouse said...

I agree with FridaWrites, but as a former spousal caregiver who went through this, I found that not every therapist/counselor is able to handle relationship issues that are bound up in chronic illness/disability.

In fact, while the ill spouse very often has a disease group he/she they can attend, their well spouse often does not realize they need to talk over things about their own situation with a third person -- since doing it with one's spouse all too often ends up threatening one or both spouses, and is not good for the changes needed to be made in the relationship.

As President of the Well Spouse Association, I can also urge this group as one that offers peer support to spousal caregivers