We all know work can get in the way of a really great relationship—and family.
There are both sides to the coin.
“I would like my partner’s support.”
“I would like to feel like a priority.”
We’re stuck in a catch-22—within that feeling of disappointment. We don’t give a little because we don’t feel loved, and our partner doesn’t give a little because they don’t feel loved.
There are 5 vital steps to take to avoid work from destroying your marriage.
In fact, it might reconnect you in spite of it or because of it.
So, don’t let work be a homewrecker with these 5 steps:
1. Take the “what’s important?” test
First be clear with yourself about what is important and why it is important.
On a piece of paper write the answer to: Why do I want to work on the relationship?
For those that are passionate about their work, also write the answer for this question: Why is my job important to me?
Write an honest answer so you can be clear with yourself and of course be aware of why you do the things you do.
For example, If you currently want your partner to be supportive, then you need to be able to articulate why this business venture, career, investment, or project is important to you.
2. Don’t prioritize.
As in don’t prioritize the wrong things over what’s truly important, like exercise over Facebook. Wait! What? Gotcha!
I know your relationship is a priority, as important as your professional dedication.
Can they co-exist?
Of course. We tend to make time for things that are important to us, and sometimes, we put on the back burner what we take for granted—not because it’s not important.
We may not be able to set aside big chunks of time during tight deadlines, when caring for a sick relative, or just by being a parent, that is why we must show our partner they are still a priority.
Of course, we hope our partner will be understanding that we have commitments, but that doesn’t justify neglecting the relationship either.
It’s easier to be supportive when we aren’t taken for granted. And it’s easier to make our partner a priority when they are emotionally supportive.
So who goes first?
You! (don’t mean to point). Which one of us are you pointing to? Whoever is reading this. Why me and not my partner?
Look, I know tt does take two to tango, but someone speaks up first and says, “Let’s dance!”
To get to the both of you tangoing (if that’s a word), someone must start. We all have to start somewhere, and you can be the one to nudge.
This is of course if you aren’t in an unstable relationship where you fear your safety. This is counterproductive and will only put you in more danger, learn more here.
If you’re not in that situation, then it’s best to go first. Regardless of gender and whether you’re highly involved in your work or you feel left out, start off by saying, “I want you to know that you are a priority in my life. What is something I can do that would prove it to you?”
It may be something really simple that doesn’t take much from you.
If you’ve been spending more time on your work, let your partner know you want to make some changes and reprioritize.
If you feel like your partner’s work is getting in the way of your relationship, let them know what you support (because you obviously don’t support it all, it’s a time suck away from you) and let them know what you need.
Both of your needs are important, it’s about meeting those needs, so be clear on what your needs are to begin with, bringing us to step 3.
3. Normalize your self-confidence and self-respect (not your ego)
Some ambitious entrepreneurs don’t share as much when it comes to their business because of fear of criticism or losing support from their partner.
And some partners aren’t as vocal about their needs when they feel forgotten because they don’t feel like a priority (as we just covered in step 2).
You’ll be more respected for standing up for yourself. The squeaky wheel does gets more oil.
Being supportive doesn’t mean you ignore your needs or are in any way complacent.
You’re an active member in their life, thus their “most trusted advisor,” as one spouse put it. You feel with them the ups and downs, and give your emotional support, without giving up your needs and your integrity. Fine balance, I know. You might as well walk on a tightrope while eating popcorn (wait, I’m thinking Batman & Robin).
Now denying that work interferes with your love life might help momentarily, but if your partner is saying they need more time to reconnect with you, there’s no more time to argue, they’re already feeling disconnected.
If you feel you’ve been supported of their goals and haven’t felt their support in return, don’t shy away from standing up for yourself.
Bottom line. Your needs are just as important.
As long as it is done with respect.
If you fear bringing up an complaint, please learn more here. If you don’t fear sharing your true feelings, you just know your partner will ignore it or argue about it, we have a free challenge to take you step by step to be able to talk about it without losing your integrity, learn more here.
4. Sweat the small stuff
Really! Don’t just get annoyed. Get ticked off at all the little things your partner does that you’ve asked for the umpteenth time to Stop! But if that doesn’t work, flip it over and instead do 2 things.
1. Do small positive things for them. Start with “good morning” or warm greetings. Offer hugs. Say something nice. Fill up the car with gas. Wash dishes. Be present. Do something you know they’ll notice and like (if you don’t know, then you don’t know enough about your partner and it’s time to start learning and asking). Keep it simple. Do as much as you feel comfortable considering where you are in your relationship. But Most importantly, reach out at least once a day to connect in a meaningful way, here are 3 specific ways.
2. Point out something they’ve done recently and you’re thankful for. So first is you doing nice gestures as much as you feel comfortable, and the second part is noticing what your partner has done for you. Maybe realize how they have already supported you in your business AND in other ways. Why do these little things matter so much? Basically, it’s our human nature.
Big events (like a vacation to Paris) and purchases (like a new car) spike our happiness but then quickly fades. Eventually the fun ends or it’s no longer shiny and new.
Little boosts keeps our happiness above average consistently.
Big boosts make us feel like a roller coaster and have us wonder why we feel so empty on the big drop. Maybe that’s why we’re suppose to eat every day, not like bears that can go 100 days without eating—wait a sec, I’m thinking of empty stomachs. Even though that’s somewhat on track.
The little accomplishments and satisfactions are more long-lasting than big occasions. They’re easier to acquire and sustain. The latte from Starbucks, the daily likes we get from our selfies, the weekly SNL, that glass of wine, or friday night.
Or in regards to a relationship: the long kiss, the quickie, the shoulder rub, your new inside joke that you share, flirting, the apologies, the make ups, the appreciations. Try not to cram all this into a vacation if you haven’t been doing it all along. Then the vacation just turns from relaxing to overwhelming. Reconnect every day, weekly even, but not once a year.
5. Clean under the office rug
Could the issue with your career just be sign of something else that is an issue in your relationship?
Although work is in itself a difficult issue, it’s best to contemplate if work is the real issue. Or if it truly is about work, why the struggle?
Is someone uncomfortable in their partner’s success? Does your partner say they support you but then call your career a “hobby” in the middle of an argument about something irrelevant? Did you recently discover that your partner doesn’t believe in you? Do you feel work is being used as an escape from real issues? Do you support your partner’s work but often feel left out or lonely because of how much time they spend away? Has work created some distance? Are you afraid to go bankrupt?
It’s a difficult situation. No sense in staying like this. Must quote Emma Watson here, “if not now? When?”
It’s important, in this case, to reveal your feelings and needs and even more important is to have a third person guiding you so the situation heals and doesn’t get worse.
That’s where mediation, or a therapist, or a coach is a life-saver—marriage-saver. Don’t wait until it’s too late. When things are too cold for too long, at least one person has checked out emotionally for some time now, it’s very difficult to check back in.
Understand there’s nothing wrong in what you feel, even if you feel uncomfortable or perhaps jealous that your partner is or will be successful. Society, or the ideals we grew up with, have an impact on our perception and our feelings. With guidance you can work through them and process it appropriately.
It takes a lot of courage to change the status quo.
Albert Einstein once said, “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
But if you’re reading this, you’re already taking a huge first step in informing yourself on what to do about it.
You’re not alone. Hopefully, many of us are ambitious to be productive in our lives. Now it’s about not letting that get in the way of our most meaningful bonds.
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