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How many of you feel as if you are banging your head against a brick wall when you try to tackle your partners excessive work habits? That what ever you say, it seems to make no positive difference, in fact it actually appears to make things worse?

Einstein’s definition of madness was to continue to do the same thing over and over again, when it hadn’t worked in the first place. Perhaps it is time to take a step back and to consider a whole new course of action?

It is likely that the same characteristics which attracted you to your workaholic partner with their excessive work habits are some of the same characteristics which are now being less than helpful. Research has shown that we are often attracted by individuals who are successful, focused and who are strong minded. It is these characteristics which make us successful in business. Paradoxically they are often the ones which get in the way of a successful relationship built on inter-dependence. Research released on Valentine’s Day this year said that the best long term relationships were built on a combination of three things: passion, intimacy (the ability to share everything, good or bad) and commitment. Statistically it appears that there are many long term relationships which are less than ideal. On further research they discovered that these relationships often had two of the three.

Considering your partners excessive work habits, how does your relationship shape up?

Does your relationship live with an elephant in the room? Do you skirt around the real issues for fear of giving them an airing. Do you talk about the insignificant things but fail to communicate about what is really important to you both?

Is there a constant barrage of nagging because you are so fed up with being lonely in your relationship because of your partners excessive work habits? Does their work pattern govern your communication with one another?

How do you feel about yourself? Do you understand what is going on with your partner?

Being a work widow or widower can have a considerable impact on how you feel about yourself. It is easy to interpret the work patterns of a loved one and see it as your fault or responsibility. “They’d rather be working than spend time with me. I’m of less value then their work. They think more about what their boss thinks than they do of me and the family. There must be something wrong with me.”

In reality workaholics have a squewed work life balance for a whole variety of reasons. It is important that you take total responsibility for your own choices for what you say and do or fail to say and do. It is just as important that you hand total responsibility for your partner’s choices of what actions they take to them.

You can not control another person, nor should you attempt to. It is a recipe for disaster. This is one of the central principles on which my work is based. Take responsibility for yourself. BE HONEST! Kidding yourself creates a smoke screen at best and inevitably leads to major difficulties in the medium to long term.

Change those things over which you have control. Where you have no control, change the way you respond to it. The strange thing is once you do this, there is often a fundamental shift in the person or circumstance which was causing you the problem in the first place.

Before you tackle the relationship you have with your partner take a long hard look at the relationship you have with yourself. If you love and value yourself and are confident in who you are, you will find it much easier to create effective boundaries for what is and is not acceptable. These boundaries should be based on mutual respect.

If your current way of handling your partner’s current work practices has failed to create a successful change simply doing more of the same is unlikely to make a fundamental difference.

Before you can create a cohesive, well thought out plan of action, you need to audit the current situation carefully. For the next 2-3 weeks I suggest you look closely at the way you manage you’re 
a) expectations 
b) your boundaries 
c) the way in which you communicate – your pleasure and your displeasure.

Do you spend what time you have with your partner nagging them about what they are doing or what they are neglecting to do? Do you moan about feeling neglected? Do you sit at home just waiting for the time when they will be with you or do you have a life of your own?

Analyze what is really happening. What exactly is it that is bugging you? Be really honest here. Think about how your actions and words impact the situation. Are you really concerned for your partner’s health or is your fear of being alone the most pressing issue? Do you feel rejected and unloved or is it that you feel as if you are playing second fiddle to their work.

Are modern technology and a lack of clear boundaries affecting family life? Does the mobile phone or email drive your time at home? Are your holidays sacrosanct or are you plagued by phone calls sitting on the beach or when you are having dinner.

Do you use sex as a reward or weapon?

Understanding the scale and the scope of the issue can be incredibly helpful when you are creating a way to solve it.

Workaholics often feel driven to succeed or driven not to fail which is often quite a different thing. They can be physically at work or missing from the present moment as they are working on in their head while they are at home. To understand what is driving and motivating your partner listen very carefully – I mean really listen! Watch them as they speak, over 60% of what is communicated is done so non verbally. Knowing and understanding yourself and your partner is the key to finding a successful way forward.

This is not a competition where if one partner wins the other partner loses. Take the time to understand what is actually going on rather than what you think is happening. The reality is often different.

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