My husband's thesis has put him under a great deal of stress recently. As a result, he's become fairly grumpy, and has admitted that he often gets angry with me for no reason. He has also told me that he is uncomfortable with this reaction and wants to fix it. How can we get over this hurdle?
Writing a thesis is stressful -- believe me. Having completed one myself, I can vouch for what a difficult process this is for your husband -- and your marriage. Students often become extremely anxious and depressed due to the lack of structure and academic support that comes with working on a thesis. It’s not a surprise that unresolved personal issues often surface during those long hours alone. And it’s probably one of the reasons many people never finish their theses!
But life (and love) must go on despite the academic demands. I am so happy to hear that your husband is taking responsibility for his negative reaction (and, let’s face it, downright grumpy behavior) and wants to fix it. I have some suggestions that will go a long way in helping you both through a stressful time. First, daily exercise will reduce some of his stress. A good physical workout will help him sit still so he can concentrate and focus on his writing without so much frustration. Second, unless you’re a fellow student, he probably needs more support than you can give him. Scheduling meetings with one or two other thesis students would be helpful for him. They can compare notes and nudge each other along. If he needs more support, working with a professional writing coach to facilitate his progress can also be of tremendous value.
Being snapped at and ignored will definitely cause you to pull back, so both of you need to take responsibility to turn this around. Of course, you can support each other, but only to a certain point. It is important for you and your husband to acknowledge that even though you are married, you each need to be responsible for managing your own stress.
Nestpert: Dr. Ingrid Schweiger is the author of the upcoming book, PARTNERS FOR A LIFETIME: SEVEN STEPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL MARRIAGE, to be released in January 2009.
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