Being ambitious is one thing, but doing overtime night after night in an attempt to reach career supremacy can sometimes leave the people you love most in the lurch.
While you’ve been kicking more work goals than Dan Carter, you still end up losing… well, your partner, that is. All of those extra hours spent perfecting sales pitches, rewriting financial reports and sending after-hours emails have sky-rocketed your career, but in turn, has sent your personal life plummeting. It’s official: you’re a bona fide workaholic.
Noticing the signs
Working hard isn’t a bad thing; hey, if anything, it’s admirable. However, when the scale starts to tip in favour of your job over the person you love, the solid foundations that are holding up your relationship may slowly erode. “Work can definitely interfere with your relationship and, in severe cases, it can ruin it,” says clinical psychologist Jo Lamble (jolamble.com). “This is because for some workaholics, their whole self-worth is tied up in their jobs.”
Despite this, loved-up couples can generally deal with short-term stressors – although, it’s the chronic problems arising over a period of time that can cause damage. “People can usually support their partner if they’re having a busy time at work, but if their job is always a higher priority than the relationship, it’s harder to be patient and supportive,” says Lamble.
While many people strive to have it all, the thing is, something’s gotta give. “It’s too hard to give everything to both your job and relationship. It’s a balancing act,” says Lamble. So, to prevent your relationship from ploughing straight into rocky terrain, here’s how to navigate your way to the place where your life, love and work meet harmoniously:
Ask these questions
Assess the importance of each task and whether you really need to be working so many hours to complete them. Founder of careers consultancy Max Coaching Jane Lowder (maxcoaching.com.au) urges you to ask yourself some questions like, ‘Can I finish on time and hand this in tomorrow?’ and ‘Do I need to stay late to finish this if it isn’t due for a few days?’ Although, as we all know, sometimes there are things on your to-do list that require more time than your 9-5 hours allow. In those situations, Lowder suggests bringing your partner up to speed on what’s going on. “Explain the task and why it’s important so that they feel part of it,” she says.
Another key part of ensuring that your work and personal life don’t collide is to fix boundaries between the two. Even though there are work matters more pressing than others, make it your mission to stick to your personal commitments. “Make plans with your partner (or friends and family, too) as a part of your day as attending a big presentation and don’t give them up,” says Lowder. “While last-minute crises might pop up, they should be the exception rather than the rule.”
Try to be present
This may seem like a no-brainer, but Lowder says ditching all things digital as you walk out of the office will pay off in the long run. If you struggle to do this, Lowder says to at least make a point of not checking your work emails in bed or first thing in the morning. “Your partner wants you to always be present with them and that won’t happen if you are constantly scrolling down your inbox.”
It’s time to own up!
According to Relationships Australia’s Rob Tiller (relationships.org.au), for a partnership to go the distance, both people in the relationship need to offer ongoing positive investments to maintain, repair and renovate the relationship, as required, over time.
Have you recently:
- Put everything down to make out with your partner?
- Stopped scrolling through work emails on your phone to fall into a long hug together on the couch?
- Sat down and given them your full attention without trying to fix or solve their problems?
- Had sex so good you thought about it every day for the next three weeks?
- Done something helpful or kind for them without being asked?
- Admitted a mistake and offered a genuine, heartfelt apology?
So, when you get home from work tonight, ask yourself these questions. If you answer no to two or more of them, you need to focus more on your relationship – starting right now.