When people talk about jobs in today’s economic climate, it’s usually about how there aren’t enough of them to go around. But there’s a new trend also impacting couples and families across the nation: Increased demands at work are contributing to our work life taking priority over our relationships. Jobs are quickly becoming the great national couple killer, chipping away at the foundation of our close relationships. For those who are guilty of being married to their work, it can steal time, energy, attention and patience away from those we love.
Like it or not, we’re all products of our environment. When given a choice between work and our partners, work can win out — not because people don’t care about romance or their partners, but because work has become all consuming these days. The erosion of job security in an already unstable economic climate can place undo pressure on people to step up their professional game. Electronic devices like cell phones and laptops never help either, making it harder for people to draw the appropriate boundaries between work and home life.
Then there’s also a sub-group of people who would prioritize work over love, regardless of the corporate environment. These people tend to get more excited about work than anything else. They cancel family events and social dates to meet deadlines, work more than 45 hours per week, and, in extreme cases, have even lost contact with friends and the rest of the outside world. To add confusion to it all, this addictive relationship with work can be considered respectable and even applauded in our society. People with this type of driven personality often use work as a way to define themselves and to increase their self esteem and sense of self worth. But prioritizing work over our partnerships can be a relationship nightmare just waiting to happen. This behavior has a way of getting partners to feel marginalized and ignored, in addition to creating family dysfunction.
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So what can you do, if your partner places his or her work life before you? That’s a tough one! But fortunately are there ways to cope.
- Signal your needs
Explain to your partner that marriage is about relying on each other for certain needs. Let them know if their mind is always on work, it leads to creating an emotional vacuum in your relationship.
- Listen to your partner
Remember every relationship has two perspectives. Find out why your partner works the way they do. You may learn something new and helpful in the process.
- Less is more
Help your partner to work half to one hour less a day, set sensible limits on their workload and learn how to say “no”.
- Have some fun
Learn to find interests outside of work together, like enjoy hobbies or seeing friends. Take unstructured time off together to allow for more spontaneity and creativity.
- Healing time
Use this time to catch up and connect. You can even use this healing time to find out more about what’s going on in your partner’s work life.
- Build an interesting life for yourself
Learn how to use the time when you’re not with your partner in a fun and fulfilling way. This will make your time apart feel more rewarding and enjoyable. You’ll probably feel less resentful towards your partner, too.
© 2013 MSNBC Interactive. Reprints