Is Your Job Ruining Your Relationship?

Doing overtime night after night can leave the people you love most in the lurch. Here’s what to do when work takes over.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel
Doing overtime night after night can leave the people you love most in the lurch. Here’s what to do when work takes over.

While you’ve been kicking butt at work, you still end up losing... your partner, that is. All of those extra hours spent perfecting sales pitches and sending after-hours e-mails have skyrocketed your career but sent your personal life plummeting. It’s official: you’re a bona fide workaholic.

How did this happen?

Working hard isn’t a bad thing. However, when the scale starts to tip in favour of your job over the person you love, “work can definitely interfere with your relationship and, in severe cases, it can ruin it,” says clinical psychologist Jo Lamble.

While loved-up couples can generally deal with short-term stressors, “if your job is always a higher priority than the relationship, it’s harder for your partner to be patient and supportive,” says Jo.

To prevent your relationship from plowing straight into rocky terrain, here’s how to navigate your way to the place where your life, love and work meet harmoniously.

1. Ask these questions

Assess the importance of each of your work tasks and whether you really need to be working so many hours to complete them. Career coach Jane Lowder urges you to ask yourself some questions like, “Can I finish on time and hand this in tomorrow?” and “Do I need to stay late to finish this if it isn’t due for a few days?” But what about the things on your to-do list that require more time than your regular office hours allow? “Explain the tasks to your partner and why it’s important so he feels a part of it,” she says.

2. Create boundaries

Another key part of ensuring your work and personal life don’t collide is to set boundaries between the two. You can start by making it your mission to stick to your personal commitments, and treating them as important as work matters. “Make plans with your partner as much a part of your day as attending a big presentation at work, and don’t give them up,” says Jane. “While last-minute crises might pop up, they should be the exception rather than the rule.”

3. Try to be present

This may seem like a no-brainer, but Jane says ditching all things digital as you walk out of the office will pay off in the long run. If you struggle to do this, Jane says to at least make a point of not checking your work e-mails in bed or first thing in the morning. “Your partner wants you to always be present with him, and that won’t happen if you’re constantly checking your inbox.”

Have you recently...

If you answer “no” to two or more of these questions, you need to focus more on your relationship – starting right now.

Put everything down to make out with your partner?

Stopped scrolling through work e-mails on your phone to fall into a long hug together on the couch?

Sat down and given him your full attention without trying to fix or solve his problems?

Had sex so good you thought about it every day for the next three weeks?

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