Partners of workaholics!
Do you find yourself in a very difficult place? For much of the time partners of workaholics are expected to manage on their own whilst your partners are busy with work. This blog focuses on how partners of workaholics can tackle the feeling of loneliness, and realise they are not alone.
Which of the following are you?
The childless partner - This situation leaves you with great tracts of time waiting for your partner to be available to talk to or to do things with. Yet at the same time, having them physically present is no actual indicator of your partner being available to you. Modern technology adds the final twist of the knife as your workaholic partner has so many more opportunities to be back in work mode. Mobile devices, emails, and social media all have a voracious appetite for attention 24/7.
The as-good-as-single parent - If you have children you find yourself being to all intents and purposes a single parent within your marriage. An added pressure is your your children often idolise their missing parent. They are rarely there to do the boring stuff like homework and nagging them to tidy up their bedroom. When they do make themselves available, the children get to do fun things - it is such a rarity it gives the activity very high status. Once your partner returns into work mode you have the double whammy of having to deal not only with your own feelings but with disgruntled and disappointed children too. It can feel so unfair.
Understanding the workaholic’s divided attention.
An added difficulty arises when your partners also wants to take time “for themselves” to unwind and relax. Where those activities exclude you and / or the children it acts very often like a slap in the face.
When your workaholic partners want to spend time with you or needs to entertain people for work you are expected to drop everything and be available. You are faced with variations on a theme of the following logic:
“You have been nagging me to spend time with you, then when I want to do just that you are off doing something else.”
“I have so little time surely you want to spend it with me.”
“My commitments are so much more important than yours, after all it is me who supports the lifestyle you enjoy. You could do what you have planned at any time.”
“I bring home the money which keeps you in the manner you want, surely it is not too much to ask for you to be with me when I have the time.”
“When I get home from work I’m too tired to deal with all this ….. surely you can sort out ….. the plumber… the insurance…. their homework…. the problem with the teacher….. the dentist etc.”
“I want to spend quality time with the children, so lets do something fun.”
“I buy them wonderful things… what more do they… or you want from me?
I can hear you saying “ We know the problem, what we want to know is how to fix it!”
If you have tried all the usual ways of trying to change the workaholic habits of your partner, maybe it is time to change your attitude towards the problem.
There is no simple answer to what is a complex problem, but ask yourself “How indispensable are my partner and I to one another?”.
I’m sure you have heard the old adage: If you don’t like things then change them. Where things are out of your control to change the only thing you can do is change your attitude towards it. Very often changing your attitude impacts on the very thing you found impossible to change. The only place to start changing them is by changing yourself.
Loving your partner unconditionally and accepting unacceptable behaviour are two different things…
Think about your particular circumstances. Do you sit waiting for your partner to find a small space for you in their life? By sitting waiting for them to be free you begin to create a structure within the relationship that states that it is acceptable for them to treat you in this way. They are able to sustain their pattern of behaviour because you are at some level colluding with them. What you need is a change of approach. This is not about paying them back, indeed that is the very last thing I am suggesting.
This is about:
- Developing a strong sense of your own self worth.
- Being honest with yourself and avoiding playing the victim.
- Learning what motivates and drives both you and your partner and understanding how to make both sets of needs work.
- Being loving to your partner whist loving yourself .
- Learning to communicate effectively with your partner. (Often we use the same words but the meanings we attach to them are completely different.)
- Using loving language that sets out your case clearly and firmly. (Without accusing, nagging or whining.)
- Setting out clear boundaries of what is acceptable and not - and sticking to them!
- Creating a life that you find fulfilling, even when your partner is not available. Making sure you make the most of every moment of your life rather than sitting waiting.
By considering the points above and altering your attitude to the situations that cause upset, it is possible to create positive change that could make your relationship far more rewarding.