Every day, you dutifully punch the clock. But sometimes the clock punches back.
You find yourself working hours upon hours of overtime. And each hour of overtime means one less hour with your spouse. When your job is hectic, stress can easily seep into your marriage. Below are some ways to limit the spread of work-related tension into your relationship with your spouse.
Identify the Source
First, be sure the pressure to work nonstop is truly coming from external sources — your company, your boss, or your clients — rather than yourself. There are legitimate “crunch times” at any job; sometimes all you can do is keep your nose to the grindstone. Most jobs require at least occasional long hours. But if your work hours are chronically excessive, it might be time to explore other career options.
However, if you are the one piling pressure on, you may have some workaholic or perfectionist tendencies. The problem is there is always something else that could be done — or be done better. Give your best effort during work hours, and try not to obsess about the rest. While a strong work ethic is commendable, so is a strong marriage ethic — a commitment to give your spouse the time and attention he or she deserves. Some people are on a perpetual quest for a better title, more clout and more money. There’s nothing wrong with ambition, but the impulse can quickly become distorted.
The Joneses Are Miserable
Everyone feels a subtle pressure to “Keep up with the Joneses” — to pull into the parking lot in a sleek vehicle wearing a sharp new suit. But no one is entirely clear who the Joneses are or why their standards have to be our own. Americans tend to spend more than they make, and the weight of debt can feel crushing. The rush we get from buying expensive things is short-lived, but the complications related to debt tend to linger.
Don’t deprive your spouse of quality time under the pretense of trying to secure “the best” for him or her. Sure, we’ve all got to pay the bills, and you need to keep a roof over your spouse’s head. But remember that the best life is one where you and your spouse have sufficient time and energy to enjoy what you have — and each other.
Dare to Disconnect
We’re not suggesting you go off the grid or refuse to ever check your phone or email after work hours. Just do it less frequently. Constantly being "wired in" can leave you feeling wired … and that isn't good for your health or relationship. Never make your spouse feel like he or she has to compete with a smart phone (or any technology) for your attention.
For the Love of Humanity
You are not a work-bot. You need sunshine, exercise, meaningful communication and recreation. Whenever possible, include your spouse in these essential, humanizing activities. They help you manage stress and reconnect with your spouse.
Don’t be afraid to lean on your spouse for emotional support, but be sure to offer the same support to him or her. Try not to ambush your partner with a work-related tirade the minute you walk in the door. Simply offer him or her a big hug or kiss and then take a few minutes, if needed, to decompress. Go play with the kids for a while, take the dog on a walk or draw a bath. Afterward, you can sit down for a nice meal with your spouse and discuss the day.
Assess Your Priorities
Inevitably, responsibilities to your company will compete with your responsibilities to your spouse. Ask yourself if it more important to attain that next promotion or to have a strong, happy marriage. Hopefully, you’ll never have to choose between those two, but if push comes to shove, be sure you know which you value most.