How to Help Your Spouse When They’re Burned Out

Move forward and grow closer through this challenge, one step at a time.
By Gena Ellis
January 26, 2021

You may have noticed that your once ‘Energizer bunny’ spouse has no energy to do anything. Or they share they don’t feel right but can’t give any specific reasons. It seems like all at once, it ALL became too much. They have no motivation to work or deal with personal issues. They feel exhausted after sleeping all night. And they begin to question their capability to complete tasks from work or at home. Your loved one may be experiencing burnout. 

Yes, burnout is a real thing. According to WHO, burnout is caused by “chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” It affects people in all areas of their lives physically, emotionally, and mentally. 

If you believe your spouse is dealing with burnout, these strategies can help you as you help them.

Listen To Them

This may be one of the hardest things to do, especially if you think your spouse can accomplish anything they set their mind to do. Now, they’re questioning everything. You have to listen to them ask questions like:

  • Am I a good spouse? 
  • Is my child getting what they need?
  • Are my kids falling behind academically because I’m not a teacher?
  • Am I a good parent? 
  • Is this my fault?
  • Am I a good worker?
  • Can I do my job now that it’s different from what I was hired to do?
  • Am I giving time and effort to my relationship?
  • Why is this so hard for me right now?

It’s not the time to try to fix it for them or ask questions. Instead, this is the time to let them dump it all out and try your best to understand. (4 Communication Exercises for Married Couples may be useful!)

Help Out As Much As You Can

Taking things off your spouse’s plate may help relieve the stress. It could be as simple as dusting around the house or taking on homework time from virtual school. If you don’t know where to start, simply ask, “How can I make what you do easier?”

Rely On Your Friends and Family (Use Your Village) 

Remember—you don’t have to do everything on your own! Encouraging your spouse to spend some time with friends, family, or alone can lighten the load. Not only should your spouse spend time with friends and family—so should you. You don’t have to be the sole person to assist your spouse. In fact, if you aren’t careful about taking on too much, it may lead to your own sense of burnout. 

Take Care of Yourself

While being supportive and non-judgmental of your spouse, it’s vital to take care of yourself. Try to get rest, good food and exercise, too. Find things that help you recharge your own battery. 

Encourage Your Mate to Find or Rediscover Hobbies

Being creative can help their brain get out of the fight/flight cycle (more on that here). Be intentional about searching for new hobbies or finding enjoyment again in something they used to do. It could be anything from crocheting, hiking, or woodworking. You know better than anyone what they enjoy. (Read Why It’s Important to Care About Your Spouse’s Interests)

Reevaluate Your Family’s Schedule

Take some time to sit down and have a conversation about your family’s schedule. List everything for everyone, including work schedules, in-person or virtual school schedules, and other things to consider, like: 

  • When the kids need more hands-on help 
  • Mealtime
  • When the kids work independently
  • When you need to focus on your job (if working from home)
  • Family time

Looking at the schedule with clear eyes can help you see patterns. From these patterns, you can make conscious decisions together about how to spend your time and energy.

People are experiencing burnout at all-time high levels, and it’s a tough thing to deal with. Watching your spouse struggle with burnout can make you feel helpless, but you can get through this together. It’s an opportunity to grow closer and remind yourselves that you can’t pour from an empty glass. Make time for the things that fill you up. 

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

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