A Bad Boss Can Ruin Your Marriage

Topic: Conflict, Stress, Work-Life Balance, Workplace Deviance
Publication: Personnel Psychology
Article: The Fallout from Abusive Supervision: An Examination of Subordinates and Their Partners
Authors: Carson, D. S., Ferguson, M., Perrewé, P. L., & Whitten, D.
Reviewed By: Katie Bachman

Maybe this can be filed in the “Well, Duh” folder, but new research has shown that bad bosses can mess up your relationships at home. “What?,” you say, “stress from work means that I’m not my best at home?!” Yeah. If you are one of the unfortunate people to have an emotionally abusive supervisor (one that gets mad at you for no reason, belittles you in front of people, etc.), you can end up taking that stress home with you in the form of work-family conflict. To make matters worse, that conflict that you’re experiencing affects your spouse or significant other and makes them tense. Then, the snowball gets a little speed from your partner’s tension by affecting important family outcomes (like staying together). Bottom line: an abusive supervisor isn’t just a pain at work for you – you end up taking that negativity home with you, which hurts your family.

Bad bosses exist, so is there anything we, the supervised, can do about it? The authors of this article say that organizations and human resource departments should do what they can to stamp out abusive supervision (easy-peasy, right?). Beyond that, on the front lines, I think the best you can do is try to keep work and home stress separated. There’s no quick fix for this problem, but maybe just knowing that bad supervision spills over into your family’s lives can help you keep from passing on the bad mojo.

Carson, D. S., Ferguson, M., Perrewé, P. L., & Whitten, D. (2011). The fallout from abusive supervision: An examination of subordinates and their partners. Personnel Psychology, 64, 937-961.

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