How to stop your job ruining your relationship

Work-life balance not what it should be? Our relationship experts at Relate Counselling have some tips to help you focus on your partner, not your emails.

My husband and I both have stressful jobs (who doesn’t?) that often require us to work overtime or be attached to our work emails. What can we do to stop this spilling over into our precious time together as a couple and stop us arguing about emails and work deadlines?

Welcome to the modern world where amazing advances in technology will save us so much time we could just work 10 hours per week – Yeah Right!

This is such a common dilemma and really requires some quite intentional discussion. Perhaps the most important is to check out what is really going on. For instance does your work really expect you to be checking emails at 10 pm, is it just your workaholic boss or your own perfectionism? Are you using work to avoid difficult discussions or opportunities for sex, or to punish each other? It can be a combination of all of these issues.

After you have a profile of what is really happening help your partner know when is an email just an email or when is it a withdrawal from intimacy. See if there are ways you can stay connected while attending to work. I like to do creative work things while my partner watches TV – it means we get physical connection, and I can share achievements.

Now there are key connection periods that can massively support – or undermine – your connection. These are waking up, going to sleep, arriving and leaving the house.

The younger parts of our brain really look for reassurance and connection during these times. When our partner leaves – what if they never come back – what is the last memory we want to hold?

So waking up and cuddling for the length of a snooze button before reaching for a phone, turning phones off and leaving them out of a bedroom altogether, and making sure the last thing we share is about something we appreciate about our partner that day, a long intentional hug and kiss when we leave and when we arrive – these are the intentional habits of couples in lasting loving relationships.

Add to that loving, naughty, saucy texts or messages, and you have the potential to nurture a passion that will impel you out of the mundane work trivia – and into connection.

Finally, it does need to be said, some work places are toxic and hostile to relationships. If all your colleagues are divorced or separated, beware. Sometimes a conscious look at your lifestyle could lead to some challenging decisions – have the discussions and make your decisions together.

Relate’s Steven Dromgool

If you have a relationship question you want answered, email us on [email protected]. Your details can be kept anonymous.

Relate Counselling is a specialist relationship counselling service, passionate about helping Kiwi’s build fantastic relationships. We offer couples and individuals relationship therapy and coaching, plus training in Integrated Relationship Therapy for professionals. Find free resources including the Relationship Health Questionnaire on their site here.

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