How Do I Address My Concerns About How Much My Partner is Working?
This question is inspired by an interview with Huffington Post Relationships.
In DC, where I practice therapy, the first question people ask one another is “what do you do?” Work is a defining feature and many people are used to working long hours and structuring a family life around consuming professional obligations. Marital tension about the challenges of balancing professional demands and quality time is common. And an obsession with work is a common barrier to intimacy.
To work through this tension, it helps to begin by acknowledging that a desire to work hard and a drive for professional excellence are strengths. It is not productive nor is it practical to approach this tension as if a professional drive is purely problematic. Many couples find it useful to consider that sometimes one’s strengths can go too far and there are ways to rein in career intensity to make deliberate time for one’s self and one’s significant other. It often helps to ask couples what drew them to each other. Typically, even if too much time working is a presenting problem, the frustrated partner will acknowledge that their partner’s drive and professional integrity factored into why they choose the relationship in the first place. Many times, if the aggrieved partner is asked what they need to feel that they and the marriage are a priority, they are able to determine concrete, manageable solutions like a half hour to talk each night or one or two evenings each week where laptops are closed and phones are left at the charging station.