Most of us work hard; we’ve families to support, debts to pay, and a retirement to prepare for. But for some, it seems like work is the only focus; they work for 12 or more hours a day and six to seven days a week, regardless of their partner’s feelings on the matter. After all, they seem to be saying, all the work they’re doing is ultimately for the family, right?

Wrong.

Studies have shown that spending too much time at work often leads to relationship problems. It typically takes some time before the relationship formally ends; this process starts with small things – communication break down, short tempers, harsh words exchanged etc. but these issues can lead to long-term resentments that are very hard to overcome.

If this scenario sounds familiar, if it seems like you’re spending more hours at your computer or in your office than at home with your partner, it’s time for you to act and do something to keep your work, life and relationship balanced. After all, researchers around the world have found that people’s biggest regrets in life are about love and relationships, not about work. You wouldn’t want to wake up old and gray someday, with plenty of money but without a loving relationship.

If you’re in a relationship right now and would like to keep it that way, here are seven ways to focus more on your partner than on your work.

Live in the present

When you have finished work for the day, turn your focus and attention to your partner. He or she will notice if you aren’t emotionally and mentally present. Once you get home, leave all your work-related worries at the door. Be the partner to your spouse, the parent to your kids, the master to your dog. Maintaining relationships means more than just going through the motions; ask questions, listen to the answers, and then ask follow up questions. Turn off your phone, leave your laptop in your briefcase, and make yourself available to your family.

Learn how to say no

Of course, it’s flattering that your boss thinks that you can handle the sort of workload that’s usually given to three colleagues. It means she/he trusts you to do a good job, and that you can handle additional responsibilities. However, consider that more and more work means less and less time spent with the family. Is it really worth it? Are the additional tasks worth losing your partner for?

Listen to your partner

When your partner says that you are spending more time in the office than at home, try not to get defensive. He/she is saying that they want to spend more time with you because they enjoy being with you and because love you. They’re saying that they need your presence, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. Listen and do something about it.

Keep the communication lines open

In any relationship, it’s very important to let each other know what you’re thinking and feeling. Don’t assume that you are a mind-reader who can instinctively know your partner’s thoughts and don’t expect your partner to be able to read your mind either. Talk, share, listen respectfully, and arrive at a compromise, or an agreement to disagree if that’s what the situation requires. If something your partner says makes you angry, and you know that you’re going to say something you’ll regret later on, go to another room until you’ve calmed down enough to resume the conversation.

Have some fun with the family

What do you and your partner have in common? Are there activities you can do together, trips you can take? If you have kids, you can take them to the park, the zoo, the science museum – virtually anywhere, as your kids would enjoy doing anything as long as it’s with you.

Go on a date night

You’ve all heard this before, but date nights are vitally important to the health of a loving relationship. Date nights should be scheduled as frequently as possible, with partners taking turns with the planning and arranging for child care.

Finally, focus on and appreciate what’s good with your partner and with your relationship

No partner is perfect; we all have quirks and shortcomings. Just as you don’t want your partner to focus on your flaws, make an effort to think about what you appreciate and admire about your partner, and then tell them. Remember, the only person we can truly change is ourselves. Time and again researchers have found that within the context of a relationship, one partner can really change the dynamic of relationship by changing themselves even if the change is minor.

A relationship, like a living, breathing organism needs regular and consistent love, nurturing, and support in order to thrive. Just by following these simple rules and remembering that work doesn’t always come first you can deepen and enhance your relationship with your family. If you are looking for help, we are here for you so contact us today.