Ideally, a couple aims towards a work/life balance. In fact, balancing a demanding job with your personal relationship is something that millions of people seek to do everyday. However, this is not always possible, especially when one partner’s job is more strenuous or high pressure than the other. Unfortunately, a lifestyle involving a couple spending endless time together, doesn’t yield any income. The majority of households depend on dual salaries to pay the expenses, support a family, and live a comfortable life. Although this is understandable, it may easily become an issue if the relationship and the career start clashing with one another and one partner or both might be unable to effectively balance both demands. This is especially true if the partner is so workaholic that he/she starts working late, bringing work home, or going into the office on weekends. Very often, this is accompanied by hurt which, eventually, can lead to anger and conflict. Other feelings that may be present in the other partner include stress, loneliness, irration, and frustration. To a certain extent, the emotional wounds created by the partner who overworks correspond to those created by infidelity.
The following are some tips that might help you cope with a partner who is at work all the time:
- Understand that this situation puts you both under intense amounts of stress and, therefore, your partner needs to be approached with caution and compassion.
- Although you might feel inclined to scold your partner, share a postive tone with him/her instead. This can be done by, for instance, reminding him/her of something he has missed by working late or by bringing work home and not being present for you and your children.
- Avoid enabling your partner’s workaholic behaviour by, for instance, delaying family meals, keeping kids up longer, postponing activities, or spending your money recklessly.
- If your partner doesn’t want to go out of the house with you, plan a weekend to visit your family or take the kids to the movie without him. Don’t compromise if he/she doesn’t make time for you.
- Suggest activities that you could do together as this might provide an opportunity to enjoy yourselves and ease the tensions between you. It also allows for an honest discussion of the problems caused by the partner’s workaholic tendencies.
- Set boundaries that you both agree on that help you both communicate with one another openly, compassionately, and empathically, for instance no mobile phones at dinner.
Although the tips above might help, it is not always possible to solve relationship issues related to a workaholic partner alone. In such circumstances, you might consider working on your issues with your partner during couple counselling. Although your partner migth be against this idea, they might be willing to attend, at least, the initial therapy session which helps them understand the gravity of the problem. On a final note, keep in mind that communication is key to overcoming any relationship issue. Therefore, do not hesitate to start a conversation, express how you feel, and try to reach a compromise with a satisfying end result for both.
If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.
Johanna Cutajar is a Master in Counselling graduate from the University of Malta. She works with children and adolescents as a counsellor within the education sector on a variety of issues including relationship issues, trauma, bereavement, transitions, and general mental health.
Saunders, E.G. (2016). What to Do When Your Crazy-Long Hours Are Ruining Your Relationship. Retrieved https://www.fastcompany.com/3063885/what-to-do-when-your-crazy-long-hours-are-ruining-your-relationship
Stritof, S. (2020). Strategies for Dealing With a Workaholic Spouse. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/tips-for-spouses-of-workaholics-2304053