Got a vacation planned for Labor Day? What a fun and timely idea! Your husband, however, may need a break a little sooner than that. Here are a few indicators that he needs a breather now - instead of later.

If you recognize a few of these situations, read on for some timely tips.

  • Your husband's secretary answers the phone and says, "I know you think you want to speak to him, but you don't. Let me help you instead."

  • Your daughter wants to present daddy with her report card and you quickly wave her off, saying, "Now's not a good time, honey. He's watching his show."

  • Your husband wakes up from a bad dream yelling, "I told you the demographics are all wrong!"

  • Someone placed an orange warning cone in front of his office door.

  • Salesmen question you about what kind of mood your husband is in before they decide if they want to speak to him.

  • An acquaintance you hadn't seen for several months greeted your husband, and your husband spoke for twelve minutes on tax reform ... Nobody asks him how he's doing anymore.

Sound familiar? Men sometimes get themselves in so deep that they forget there are other ways to act and react.

He may not know it, but your husband might need your help lowering his blood pressure. Helping your man make an adjustment in his competitive or self-critical behaviors might just give him a few more years to live and enjoy.

The good news is, you don't necessarily need extra days off to give your husband a breather or reduce his stress. Try a few of these:

Have a smooch-fest

Impromptu smooching relieves pressure like no other - and get the kids in on it too. Designate Friday as "Smooching Day" when everyone gets hugs and kisses. After the kids have been put to bed, you can show your husband how it's really done.

Put yourself on vacation mode

If you are relaxed about the kids or the yard or the neighbors (or whatever else might be stressing your husband out), odds are hubby's load will lighten significantly. Other synonyms for this: lighthearted, easygoing, casual, playful, buoyant, breezy - all describe an attitude that is infectious. So infect him!

Give him a little alone time when he comes home

This might include garage tinkering time, newspaper reading or iPad time. Let him put on his favorite music (or have it playing when he gets home). Let the kids know that dad needs a little time to acclimate before they jump on him.

Tell him you appreciate everything he does

List some of the things you've noticed lately - the sacrifices he's made as a husband and a father. He may be trying to prove to you how hard he works, and a little affirmation might help loosen him up.

Take joy in simple things - like backyard picnics

The family doesn't have to go to the beach to have a relaxing day in their swimsuits. Set the sprinklers on low, and remember that a few popsicles make the world a better place.

Go for a walk and take him along

While you're walking, have him talk about his workday. Five minutes replaying the day to you might mean that, for the rest of the evening, he can let work go and enjoy the family. Make sure both of you stretch and breath deeply.


The physiological responses from tai chi, meditation and simple breathing exercises can effectively toss stress out the window. No special clothing or DVD's needed. Keep it simple.

Try a little pampering

Men enjoy a nice bath or shower. Sometimes a little something that doesn't smell like the mechanic shop or the office copy room does wonders. Try putting a drop of essential oil in a silk plant or something similar to defuse a pleasant aroma.

Lose the perfectionism

Things don't have to be exactly so. Let hubby know that your expectations are low for a bit, that he does not have to be He-man for the next day or so.

Above all, tell him you love him, that you couldn't go on without him, and that you'd bet money he still fits into his high school jeans. A little humor goes a long way.

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