It's easy to focus too much on one aspect of your life to the detriment of another.
By Neal Stastny
Everyone’s life is basically one long quest to figure out how to get paid to do something that you like and how to spend time with people that you love. Seems simple enough, right? All you have to do is deal with rejections, firings, interviews, bad relationships and bad managers before you hopefully find a job and/or partner that you love.
But even just finding one or both of those isn’t enough. Then you have to actually work to maintain them for years and years.
After putting in all that work to achieve those two seemingly simple goals, it’s easy to get lost along the way and focus too much on one aspect of your life to the detriment of another. According to one study, researchers found that likelihood of reporting stress within the family increased by 74% and with an increased amount of negative spillover from family to work the likelihood to report stress felt at work increased by 47%. In other words, the stress was felt both at home and on job but the family stress level bore the brunt of the situation.
So you’ll have to work hard to make sure that doesn’t happen by finding the perfect work-life balance. What a bummer, right? This was supposed to be easy.
1. You Endlessly Complain About Work
Everyone wants to vent after a long or difficult day at work. It’s important not to bottle that up, but you’ve got to make time for other conversations. A study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, Michigan State University researchers found that workers who regularly complain are more likely to become mentally fatigued, defensive and less productive. If you catch yourself having nothing else to talk about at home, the same fatigue and defensiveness will likely translate to your relationship — not to mention you'll bore and annoy your partner right away from you.
Advice: Take up an interest that you may have been neglecting. Take a few minutes to vent when you need to and make sure you do the same for your partner. Basically, spend the rest of the evening doing or talking about anything but work.
2. You Don’t Go Out Anymore
Whether you’ve married for 15 years or been dating for 6 months, you’ve got to make plans to get out of the house and spend some time together. If you’re spending too much time thinking about work, you probably haven’t planned a date night in a while. It sounds corny, but you should still “date” your wife or girlfriend. Use time management tips to help you create a better work-life balance.
Advice: If you’re have trouble coming up with some fun date ideas, think about where you would take someone on the fifth date. Studies say that tends to be an important one.
3. There’s No Spontaneity
If you’re so overworked that you can’t make plans in advance, then you’re most likely not being spontaneous. It’s hard to plan to be spontaneous. In fact, it’s kind of impossible by definition. But a good spontaneous activity will probably inject more life into the relationship than a week of planned dates. This is relationship science, guys.
Advice: Next time you’re working over the weekend and you think to yourself, “Man, I wish I was doing [blank] instead,” just go to that thing. It will feel like you’re doing something wrong, but it will be worth it.
4. You Can’t Be Away From Your Phone
Whether you're checking work emails or just scanning Twitter, it’s pretty common to have your phone on the table during a night out. If you feel apprehensive about leaving your phone at home for two hours, you’re probably worrying too much about potential emails.
Advice: Just go out to dinner for two hours and leave your phone at home. This will probably feel like a mini vacation with your partner once you stop panicking for the first half-hour. (More phone etiquette tips right this way.)
5. It's Becoming A Competition
If you’re a workaholic, then there’s a good chance you’re also dating a workaholic. This can spell trouble, as men’s self esteem is negatively affected when their partners are more successful, according to this article from American Psychological Association’s Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Ideally both people are supportive and understanding of the other’s career goals and the time dedicated to achieving them. But at worst, you’re both trying to gain dominance in the relationship the way you’re trying to dominate your profession. Confidence is an attractive quality, but too much competition in a relationship can be harmful if not approached in the right way.
Advice: If that’s happening, all you can do is have a conversation and talk about how to fix that. You both will have to figure out a way to decrease the amount of time you spend on work.
6. You’ve Stopped Having Sex
52% of people admitted to having sleep problems related to stress at work, according to a workplace poll by the mental health charity Mind. And because more sleep leads to more sex, there's only one conclusion to draw: If you're stressed at work and thus lacking sleep, you're likely not wowing her pants off like you used to. Though there are plenty of reasons why couples might have sex less frequently, being overworked is certainly one of them.
Advice: If you’re not having as much sex as you used to, make plans to have more sex. It might take a while to get back into your old schedule. But chances are it will make you happy, which will lead to more sex, which will lead to more happiness, which will lead to… you get it.
7. You Don’t Go To Bed Together
Sex isn’t the only form of intimacy that matters. Just the simple act of falling asleep together can do wonders for your relationship if you’ve been going to bed late because of work. Going to bed together is pretty basic, but if you haven't been doing it and are still somehow together, this is a good place to start.
Advice: Instead of working the extra few hours before going to sleep, lay in bed together and just watch some Netflix. Or have sex. Or read. Or have great sex without intercourse. Anything but talk about work.
8. You Use Business Slang In Your Personal Life
A quick scan through your text messages may reveal if you’re neglecting your relationship. Answering dozens of work emails every day can permanently alter the way you communicate via text. You’re in trouble if you’ve sent your partner any texts that resemble, “Just following up on a confirmation RE: dinner tonight. Would appreciate a response by COB.”
Advice: This is weird, and it makes someone feel like they’re talking to an auto-reply email response. Just text like a normal person.
9. You’re Too Excited About Work
Maybe you work so much because you absolutely love your job. You come home and talk about all the great projects you’re working on and how wonderful it is to work with like minded people. That’s great! Everyone loves being with someone who is happy. But everyone also likes to hear fun stories, and years of work stories will get boring.
Advice: Remember that you’re allowed to get fulfillment from other areas of your life besides work. Investing time in those areas will actually make you even more happy, even if you love your job.
This article was originally published at AskMen. Reprinted with permission from the author.