For many people in these modern times, their job comprises a large part of their identity. This is not the case for everyone of course – work or stay at at home moms and dads, and those who simply work to live, not the other way around, are usually a bit more balanced in this area. It’s the worker who sees the job as part of him or herself who may have problems in relationships, because the job may very likely have an adverse effect on the couple. Whether you’re a man or a woman, if you take your employment seriously, you can’t define yourself to any extent outside of it, and you can’t imagine living without it, you probably are letting the job into your romantic relationship, and that’s not a good thing.
We’re all familiar with the scene: the poor overworked husband comes home at the end of a long hard day. He tries to relax, but the kids are being loud, or the teen is being hard to get along with, or his wife is unloading her woes upon him, and he snaps. He is under so much stress at work that he can’t add a single shred more from his home environment. The result may be that the added stress in the relationship causes him to retreat from any conflict, and he starts to spend more time at the job, which induces more stress. It’s a vicious spiral that cannot end well, and it can just as easily be the wife who is experiencing this stress overload. Either way, the relationship suffers because of the job.
Many workers, sometimes especially if they are managers or executives, work much more than 40 hours a week. They put in more time because it is a demand and requirement of the job, and because some type A personalities become addicted to the grind. Since there are only so many hours in the week, it is a natural result that there is less time for the relationship, which also makes demands. No couple can be successful in a happy and equal partnership if one of them has very little time to invest. It requires an investment of time to be in a good relationship, and when the limited time a person has goes to the job, the relationship is negatively affected.
For someone who works at a high stress, time-demanding job, there is the matter of attention and focus to deal with. We all know people who cannot separate their work from the rest of their life. The job claims so much attention during the work day that it is difficult to turn that focus to the loving wife or husband who needs it. Without an ability to refocus the attention, there can be no real communication or emotional support, and the relationship is in trouble.
Stress, lack of time, and failure to focus the necessary attention all come together in a chicken and egg process in which the working partner or partners simply have no energy left over to invest. Without a store of extra energy to put into real effort, the relationship begins to deteriorate, and stress and all the other negative aspects of the job increase. The work becomes the only way to continue doing something that feels real, and supplies that all-important sense of identity, and the relationship takes a back seat.
Work Is Not All Bad
Maybe your job isn’t affecting your relationship – if not, you are definitely one of the lucky ones. But if it is, there are many ways to address the issue. Learn to reduce your stress levels, prioritize your time and energy output, refocus your emotional attention, and get professional help if needed. It is possible to have a good job, to do a good job at it, and to have a good relationship too. But it will take time, energy, and attention, and everyone should learn how to work through that sharing process – for the good of their relationship.