Colorado Couples Counseling with Bryce Mathern, LPC
What to Do When Your Partner Puts Work Over the Relationship

What to Do When Your Partner Puts Work Over the Relationship

Work is a big part of life. Regardless of what you do for work, it can get in the way. From busy schedules to meetings, work can get in the way of your personal life, friendships, and even relationships. If you find yourself coming second to your partner’s work life, what do you do to get your relationship back on track?

Working too much doesn’t just mean a few long nights at the office. It can look like weekend “work” trips, bringing work home, or the talk of work being the topic of every conversation. Even if your partner isn’t aware of the impact their work has on you, or even notice that your relationship has taken a backseat, work life balance is a big factor in every relationship and can become straining. 

Involved With A Workaholic?

If you find yourself involved or married to a workaholic, you may feel like your relationship has been replaced with your partner’s commitment to their job. This can leave you with feelings of jealousy, loneliness, and even anger. The truth is work takes a huge amount of time, and if your partner is dedicating the majority of their time to work it doesn’t leave much left to nurture a relationship. 

Every relationship requires balance whether its work, friends, or family. If you find yourself in a situation where you aren’t getting the time and energy you need from your partner and work has become all consuming, its time for action. 

Take Action To Understand

Before pointing fingers and raising blame, try to understand what’s driving your partner to work. Are they dealing with stress from their boss and peers to meet a deadline? Maybe they are working overtime to save up some money to fund the kids’ college. Regardless of the situation, if you can gain a deeper understanding into why they are working the way they are, you can alleviate some of the mistrust, anger, or disappointment you may be feeling.

See It From Their Point Of View

If your partner isn’t working late to make ends meet or in the face of pressure, try to meet them in the middle. Perhaps they are dedicating extra hours because their job is their true passion and fuels their fire. If you can see it from their point of view that they are dedicating their time and energy to a lifelong dream, you can alleviate some of the anger that comes along with being “second place”. Instead, you can aid in supporting their dreams and their dedication to their passion while expressing your feelings and needs so together you can find a healthy balance. 

Take It One Day At A Time

Every hard time has its season. If you find yourself stressed and let down by your partner’s commitment to work, the worst thing you can do is compare. Comparison is the thief of joy, if you find yourself comparing your relationship to other couples, friends, or family you’ll constantly find yourself being let down. While your partner may be addicted to work, they have other strengths to offer to your relationship that differ from others! 

Take A Look In The Mirror

It may be a hard realization, but while addressing your concerns it is important to take into account your own behavior. Have you enabled their behavior in any way? Perhaps they are staying late because you’re constantly stressed about money and they are doing what they can to make ends meet. Perhaps they are staying late to avoid the confrontation they know is waiting for them at home. Regardless of the situation, a relationship takes two and recognizing if you are a contributing factor in your partner’s work addiction can help you learn how to properly navigate the situation and spark change. 

Set Boundaries

While you might not be able to stop your partner from working, you can set some healthy boundaries for your personal life to help clear the lines between work life balance. 

  • Having dedicated work hours so you can properly delegate time between work and life
  • Leaving work equipment and tasks at work and not bringing them into your home environment
  • Having a place in your home dedicated to work 
  • Removing work or talk of work from the conversation
  • Setting apart time out of work to enjoy eachothers company 

By mutually agreeing on and setting boundaries about work beforehand, you and your partner can respect each other’s time management when it comes to work and enjoy eachothers company!

Invest In Yourself

Just because your partner is committed to their job, it doesn’t make you any less of a person and it doesn’t mean they care for you any less. Instead of viewing their work as a negative, try to find some ways that it can benefit your relationship or individual identity. Find some hobbies that are personal goals for yourself that you can invest in with your free time while your partner is working. Plan fun or new date night ideas for when your partner is finally off work to finally enjoy the time you have together. Take your time to meet new friends, learn something new, or embark on your own journey.