Is After Work Crankiness Threatening Your Relationship?

We live in troubled times. We're fighting wars everywhere, Wall Street has been occupied, people are still adding -gate to the end of scandal names even though it doesn't make any sense. And to make matters worse, we're becoming increasingly incapable of not acting like complete assfaces toward our spouses and partners after we get home from work. How in heaven's gentle name will we address this growing concern?

The Wall Street Journal reports on an increasingly common phenomenon that threatens to destroy the very fabric of marriage. Stress and and negativity levels on social media sites builds all day until it has whipped us into a collective froth by late afternoon. Hard working couples return from work frazzled and out of sorts, ready to take all of the day's stress out on each other, and since we're often tied to our offices via technology we can never escape, we're increasingly in need of a period of time during which we mentally separate ourselves from what goes on at work. Some experts refer to this period of after work crankiness as "The Witching Hour" or "stress spillover," but you probably know it as that hour or so when all you want to do is take a giant dump in peace and then maybe watch two episodes of The Simpsons on your local Fox affiliate in silence.

When another person's in the picture, complications arise, as people have different needs during this time of testiness. According to the WSJ,

Each partner in a couple comes home with expectations of how the other should behave. Some people want their partner to listen; others want to be left alone. Women tend to manage stress and other feelings with the help of their relationships-they like to come home and talk to their partners about details of their day, experts say. Men typically prefer to deal with worry or anxiety by themselves.

Those women! Always talking!

These gender-stereotype-based after work snafus (which I think might make a good plot for an upcoming episode of Whitney) can only be addressed by the Department of Obvious Ways to Not Act Like A Dick. Surprisingly, none of the expert stress-battling suggestions insist that you immediately take your pants off upon crossing the threshold of your abode, or mention the fact that turning the heat way up, wrapping yourself up like a burrito in an afghan, and taking a secret nap in the back of the closet is awesome. Instead, the experts all recommend couples — surprise — be considerate of each other and give the other person the space they need to adjust. Maybe don't be around each other if you insist on fighting. Or try this crazy new trend the kids call "listening!"

Scott Wetzler, psychologist and vice chairman of behavioral health at Montefiore Medical Center, in Bronx, N.Y., recommends the "speaker-listener technique": One person speaks, and the other listens without interrupting, then paraphrases what the first one said and replies. Then the partners switch.

"It teaches listening, which in my opinion is harder than talking," Dr. Wetzler says.

So, there you have it. You're not the only one who's insufferable after work, and the threat your bad mood poses to your relationship can be alleviated by just gritting your teeth and trying to nice. Stay tuned for next week, when the Wall Street Journal will give us all some quick tips on how to walk and chew gum at the same time.

Putting the 'Honey' back in 'Honey, I'm Home' [WSJ]

Image via iofoto/Shutterstock.