IS YOUR CAREER AFFECTING YOUR RELATIONSHIP?

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Andrea: My personal life is falling apart.

Nigel: That’s what happens when you start doing well at work.
Let me know when your entire life goes up in smoke, then it’s time for a promotion.
 

It is insanely difficult to be the go-getter you want to be at work while also prioritizing your family, friends and relationship.

Just ask Andrea from the Devil Wears Prada.

I too have first-hand experience navigating these confusing waters.

 My husband and I are very different. He is risk-averse and financially conservative. He looks for predictability and consistency in his work so he can enjoy his life outside of it. I’m a risk-taker. I’m willing to sacrifice a bit now for a long-term gain. I crave excitement and a dynamic work environment. I’m more than happy to work ridiculously long hours if it’s for something I’m passionate about.


Two years ago I quit my corporate job to start Ama La Vida. I walked away from a steady paycheck to make no money for an indefinite time. We were in the process of planning our wedding which really is just a year-long series of financial decisions. Which invitations? Which tablecloths? Do we pay for this or not? These significant life experiences and financial implications all happening at one time certainly caused a lot of friction in our relationship. I was working more than ever, getting paid less than ever and dropping balls at home. I could see that this would all be worth it in the long run, but the math just wasn’t adding up for the hubby.

Here’s how we got through it which I think applies for many scenarios in which work goals and relationships find themselves in conflict:

  • Talk about it! Don’t let your differences of opinion fester. For you to be able to support one another throughout this trying time, you have to first understand what each other is going through. If you don’t discuss it, you may send the message that you don’t care what your partner is sacrificing, and you also may not get to fully understand how your work commitments are impacting them.
  • Set boundaries. It’s likely that your partner doesn’t hate your career; they hate the impact your career is having on your relationship. Find out their biggest trigger points and set boundaries around those. Maybe they’re fine with you staying at the office an extra hour or two if it means you won’t take our your phone at home. Make that a rule. Maybe they are less concerned about you working on weekends but want to ensure you still prioritize vacation time and travel. Learn what is most important to them that your job may be interfering with and get creative with how you can prioritize the things that matter most and set boundaries to honor their requests.
  • Discuss the timeline. In the moment, things may feel all-encompassing, but it is important to remember that life will take you through different seasons and chapters, and they are all temporary. Maybe, you agree up front to try out starting a business for two years. Maybe you have determined it is worth it to take on graduate school for three. Or maybe you’re working your tail off to earn a promotion which will be decided in six months. None of these things will last forever, so make sure you remind yourselves and each other of that and ensure you discuss what will happen if the timeline extends or things don’t go according to plan.
  • Remember your values and share them with one another. It may be hard for your partner to understand why the heck you’re even doing this in the first place. My husband values stability. I value adventure and achievement. He would never pursue something in entrepreneurship because it doesn’t align with his values, and yet I have thrust him into this lifestyle. When I tell him why I’m so passionate about the work I’m doing and the people Ama La Vida is serving, he gets it. When he reminds me how he scrimped and saved for decades to set himself up for a stable financial future and retirement, I’m reminded of how hard this is for him. Have open conversations about your values and try to see it from your partner’s perspective.
  • Discuss and evaluate your goals. Remember to constantly revisit your goals and ensure they are truly the ones you want to achieve. For example, you could be working your tail off for a promotion, but you realize you don’t even like where the company is headed and actually want to work someplace else. Take some time to pause and reflect and ask yourself if what you’re working toward is truly important to you and what you want your life to be about. Make it a habit of reevaluating your career path and goals at least once per year.

I know it’s difficult.

I know when you’re giving your absolute all at work the last thing you want to do is be punished for it at home. But don’t forget that this is temporary. You can get through it together, and your relationship will be all the more stronger for it.


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