New research published this week tells us something that we probably have known all along. Problems at home can lead to arguments at work that then result in more disputes at home. Researchers at the University of Madrid examined the relationship between struggles at home and attitudes at work.[i]
What they found was not surprising. "The difficulty of focusing on work when distracted by family worries made employees irritable. This led to them reacting negatively towards colleagues instead of using more adaptive strategies…This negativity is transferred to the home in the form of increased conflict with their partners,” said Dr Sanz Vergel.[ii]
In English, when we struggle at home and take those struggles with us to work, we will have problems at work. And, if we fail to deal with them in a biblical manner we will take them home. Then the cycle just starts over in a worsening spiral of home and work struggles.
Paul told us this would be the case two thousand years ago in his letter to the Ephesian church. He warned them as follows. “Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity. Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear…Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
(Eph 4:26-29, 31-32 NASB)
There are several important things Paul tells us that can break up the cycle of work home problems. First, do not let problems go past sundown! Reconcile your disputes before bedtime and start the next day with a clean slate. Second, choose your words in careful kind godly way. Everything we say impacts someone who hears it. We ought to choose our words to glorify God and help others. And third, we should forgive one another in the same way God forgives us.
These are simple solutions Paul gives but they are profoundly useful if we don’t want to spend our lives carrying problems from home to work and back.
[i] Ana Isabel Sanz-Vergel, Alfredo Rodríguez-Muñoz, Karina Nielsen. The thin line between work and home: the spillover and crossover of daily conflicts. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 2014; DOI: 10.1111/joop.12075
[ii] British Psychological Society (BPS). "Family worries can cause conflict at work." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 June 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140630094654.htm>.