Joanie is proud of her accomplishments. She has risen to the top of her department at work in less than a year. The extra hours in meetings and training sessions have been well worth it. She is thrilled to bring home the paycheck that she does, but her career success has been much more than that. The sense of achievement and boost in self esteem that Joanie continues to receive from all of her hard work is the most important benefit.
Unfortunately, Joanie's husband disagrees with her. He complains when she stays late at the office and often gets angry when she brings home projects to finish up. Recently, her husband had a major meltdown and accused Joanie of caring more about her career than about their marriage. He's been sleeping in their spare bedroom this past week and has hardly spoken to Joanie. She feels angry and torn. Could it be that her career is killing her marriage? 6 Reasons To Put Love Before Your Career
It can seem impossible to have both a successful career and a close, connected marriage. In a tight economy, many employers are trying to stretch their dollars...this includes stretching employees. Longer hours and a more competitive environment at work are frequently the result. For you, this might be the case. It could also be that you truly enjoy doing what you do for a living. Maybe, like Joanie, you get a lot of satisfaction and a feeling of self-worth from giving your all to your job.
The trouble is, when you are so focused on your career, your relationship might slide. Creating a happy and fulfilling marriage requires effort too. It may seem to you that there's just not enough of you to go around. Yes, you probably love your partner deeply and you want your marriage to be healthy, but for right now, there just doesn't seem to be the time or energy to put your all into both your marriage and your career. It might seem like you have to choose. This can cause inner turmoil as well as tension and conflict between you and your spouse.
Do you have to sacrifice your career just to have a close and connected relationship? How can you resolve this impossible dilemma?
Try a re-frame.
When you feel as if you're stuck in an "either/or" hard place, chances are you've got a narrow perspective going on. In the majority of cases, when it seems like there is no other possible way, there actually are other options. You just can't see them because you feel so stuck. Invite yourself to re-frame your situation. When you re-frame a situation, you aren't denying that your partner nags you about working weekends or that your boss doesn't seem to understand that you have a family at home. Instead, you intentionally take a slightly different point of view. Can You Live With Your Partner's Quirks?
Sit down with a piece of paper. Without censoring yourself, fill in the blanks for the statements below:
“I have to focus on my (career or marriage) right now because______.”
“When I focus on mostly on my (career or marriage), I feel____ because _____.”
Don't judge your responses to these statements as right, wrong, good or bad. This is just how you are viewing the situation at this moment.
Next, fill in the blanks for these statements. Again, try not to limit your responses:
“One activity I like to do with my spouse is _____.”
“In the past, I have felt ______ when my spouse and I have ______ together.”
“Things are smoother at work when I _____.”
“I am most effective and efficient at my job when I ____.”
The intention of this exercise is to help you re-frame your situation and turn it from a no-win struggle to a perspective where you affirm your power of choice. We want you to remember why you are in this relationship in the first place; hopefully it's because you gain some enjoyment, passion and fun from being with your partner. We also want you to get clear about what helps you at work and to remember that you have the power of choice when it comes to your career. Maybe you've come to believe that the only way to succeed at work is to put your personal life on hold. This doesn't have to be true for you. Keep opening up to re-frames until you start to move from "either my career or my marriage" to "both my career and my marriage."
Really be where you are.
One key to moving into that "both/and" perspective is to practice being very present wherever you are. If you are at work, focus in and be as efficient as you can be. If you are at home or out with your spouse, really be with him or her. Resist the temptation to multi-task and finish up a work project while cuddling on the couch with your partner. Instead, let your mate know you're going to work for 30 minutes and then you'll join him or her on the couch for cuddling. 5 Reasons To Look Forward To Old-Age Love
The more you can be very present with whatever you are doing and whomever you are with, the higher quality connection you'll have with your partner and the higher quality performance you'll offer your employer!
Related: Strong Women: 4 Tips To Help You Drop The Guard
Susie and Otto Collins are relationship coaches and authors who help couples communicate, connect and create the relationship they desire. Click here to get their free ebook, Passionate Heart-Lasting Love.