Samantha De Bono Counselling Bromley

Bromley & Harley Street

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Work vs. Relationship

by Samantha

When a partner works long hours, it can be a very lonely place without him/her.  Work vs. Relationship is a very real problem for couples, but the problems start when you begin to build up resentment around your partner’s working schedule and then lay the guilt trip on him with accusations like “you obviously don’t care about me or the children”. No one likes a nag and being accusatory is particularly dangerous.

Ask yourself these Work vs. Relationship Questions:

    Is your partner a workaholic or is it that he/she just works too much for your liking?
    What does his/her absence mean to me?
    What positive things do I miss about him/her when he/she is gone so much?
    What am I longing for in terms of emotional, physical, intellectual, or spiritual connection with him/her?

Then when you have the answers to these questions, put them to your partner in an honest and non-accusatory manner.  Explain to your partner that his absence means loneliness for you and that you miss positive things about him like how he makes you laugh or how good he is with the children and be honest about what you are longing for from him.

Be honest, make sure your reasons are true and not excuses.  For example I once worked with a couple where the wife said that the Work vs. Relationship problem was due to her husband ‘wanting to work long hours because he enjoyed being away from them’ but it turned out that she felt “trapped indoors” with the children, but felt guilty admitting this to herself and to her husband, so she tried to get him to spend more time at home by making him feel guilty when he had to work.  One client I worked with owned the fact that he felt jealous of the men his wife worked with, but instead of saying this, accused her of “not being a good mother” every time she worked late.  When you are honest about what’s really going on for you, there is a far greater chance of a positive outcome.

Couples should understand as much about their partner’s work as possible.  Respecting the importance of your partner’s job is necessary for your partner to believe he/she has your support and regard.  The more you know, the less resentful you’ll be.  If each of you can be each other’s sounding board you will build a bond together which will help when seeking encouragement about work problems or worries.

When you feel resentful about your partner’s work commitments, you may find you believe every event you attend should be as important to your partner, unfortunately, this way of thinking causes many arguments between couples.  While you may have 10 social events you would like your partner to attend, decide honestly which ones are the most important and try to agree on those.

We live in an age where work follows us everywhere making the Work vs. Relationship difficult to balance. Our smartphones bring us minute by minute updates so we can never truly leave work behind unless we create firm boundaries.  Do this by agreeing on a time of the day when gadgets are locked away and not accessed until the following morning. Be reasonable when agreeing on such things as there may be times when flexibility is required but this should be an exception to the rule.

Plan some future dates together.  When you know you have something to look forward to, you are less likely to feel resentful on a day to day basis when your partner has to work late.

Sit together and weigh-up your Work vs. Relationship in a non-blaming way, work out how much actual time you spend away from each other and where adjustments can be made within reason. Respect and appreciate your partner’s point of view on the subject and try to see their perspective in order to find a middle ground, rather than trying to get your partner to agree to your point of view and dismiss his/her own.

At the end of the day, it is worth remembering that you cannot change others and no matter how strongly you feel about your partner’s work hours, he/she may not agree or understand your point of view. Hopefully, if you have been able to speak openly, honestly and amicably to your partner about your feelings and your needs, in a non-judgemental manner, he/she will work with you to make changes for the better.  However, if this does not happen and leaving the relationship is not an option for you, then you need to ask yourself “what do I need to do for myself if my partner is unavailable to me?”. You may need to fulfil your own desires, passions, hopes and hobbies to keep yourself happy and healthy. This isn’t selfish, it’s necessary!