Grow up, get married, have children, grandchildren, retire, and pass on. That’s what we imagine when we think of our lives, right? But somewhere along the way, we stop one day and suddenly realize that we spend most of our lives looking at the walls of a cubicle. And when you spend the rest of your work week sitting in traffic backed up on the highway, throwing a pack of ramen on the stove, or folding yet another pair of socks, it can sometimes be very difficult to make time to really love the other human who does life beside you.
What can occasionally happen in even worse circumstances is that careers begin to creep into these two intertwined lives. Late nights, solo dinners, and having to repeatedly apologize to your friends that once again he or she is at work and missing yet another get together.
So how do you do it? How do you love someone when work has started to consume their lives? How do you take this experience and help it to build a stronger relationship? Well, I’ll tell you how.
Schedule time together, even if it’s only an hour early in the morning or late at night.
Spend that scheduled time really listening to what’s going on in each other’s lives. One of the hardest parts about demanding careers is that it presents the illusion that lives are growing apart because of the lack of knowledge about what the other is going through or doing. By setting aside time daily, you can not only listen and be involved in understanding what your partner is going through, but you can also be aware of how to best support them depending on what they are going through.
Be understanding that late nights and long hours take a toll on both the individual and the one waiting at home. Consequently, each need to be supported fully by the other.
It is not easy to work a 13 hour day. And similarly, it is not easy to work a nine hour day, rushing home to get the kids off the bus, cook dinner, get everyone ready for bed before heading back to the kitchen to finish dishes. While the ideal situation is to share the workload equally, often times each feels as though they carry the heavier load. By putting aside the “I Do More” mindset and taking the time to thank each other for how hard they are working daily you will not only be happy to do your part of the work, but you will also feel supported in what you do and know that your partner is working off of that same support.
Plan a dedicated vacation, once a year, just the two of you, to recalibrate and rest together.
If I never had anything to look forward to, I would never survive. Once a year, set up a week long vacation of your choosing. Leave the family at home, turn your phones off (or at least turn all notifications except for calling off), and proceed to do nothing but what you and your partner want to do during that time. Sleep in. Stay out late. Lie on the beach for hours. Go for a walk. Talk. Rest. Recalibrate. By taking this time to focus in on the original foundation of your relationship, you can come home renewed and refreshed, and already looking forward to next year’s adventure.
Develop your own life, but keep your partner up to date with that part of your life.
If you happen to love someone who is kept at work longer and later than your own role requires, start to develop hobbies. Go out and meet people. Schedule girl’s nights, take on a second job, start volunteering. You’ll find yourself far less lonely and less likely to become frustrated with the strains of work if you keep yourself occupied and happy with social interaction from new friendships. Of course, don’t box your partner out of that part of your life: if they do develop any free time with their schedule, encourage them to meet your new friends, volunteer alongside you, or find hobbies of their own!
Above all else, wake up each morning with the intent of loving your partner, no matter what the 24 hours may throw at you both.
Life is so difficult, and when you factor in doing it alongside the person that you love, sometimes you can make yourselves an easy target. And coupled with the fact that “love” and “commitment” are relatively loose terms in today’s society, it takes certain dedication to make it through a hectic work week, 52 weeks out of the year. It’s not something that will just happen if you don’t work towards it!
Cut yourself and your partner some slack when it comes to “the way things should be” or “the way things used to be”. Some days are better than others, and all we can do is keep trying. Remember to listen when the other speaks, always show support, and schedule in that time for the two of you regularly. One day things will calm down, and if the two of you support each other through the difficult times, you will be rewarded (possibly in retirement!)