Experts dish on how to have both.
Congratulations! You found a career you love—and a person you want to share your life with. Now’s the real question: How do you balance forward momentum in marital intimacy, as well as your career?
This dilemma might not ever occur to engaged or dating couples eagerly looking toward marriage. But the realization that you just can’t burn the candle at both ends, comes swiftly for many newlyweds. Late working nights might have once been a part of your M.O. before you met and married McDreamy, but continuing down that path isn’t looking like a sound or sustainable strategy.
Trying to learn this balancing act can seem exhausting, but it doesn’t have to be.
Sure this might involve a paradigm shift or two, but think of it this way: your marriage and your career have a symbiotic relationship. If done right, thriving at one will help you get better at the other since both contribute to your well-being and overall energy level.
We asked career and relationship experts to give their best tips for balancing these two very important halves of your life so that you can succeed at both.
This is what they say:
Master Productivity During the Working Hours
It sounds simple: Obviously, you want to be more productive at work. But when you have real priorities outside of your job, being more productive during the working hours is crucial. Not to mention, it might actually help you to achieve your bigger career goals, making you better with time management, and more mentally acute. Here are some tips to make your hours at work count.
01. Focus on the big picture. Taking a step back and not obsessing over every single detail will help keep you motivated to complete that to-do list. Heather Monahan, business expert and founder of Boss In Heels suggests that your goal could be as simple as getting your work done by the hours you’ve agreed upon to get home. She suggests that you check on your progress midday to make sure you’re on task, keeping yourself accountable to your own goals.
02. Fire the distractions. Monahan suggests that you “fire” the things or people in your life that are actively getting in the way of you being able to focus on your work and the people that matter. While it definitely can be tough at first, ultimately you will feel relieved about cutting these toxic distractions and people out of your life that are holding you back.
03. Take one bite at a time. When you have a daunting project in front of you, it’s only natural to feel overwhelmed—letting the anxiety and frustration spill over into your workday. Monahan says it’s easy to let this halt your progress, draining energy from both sides of your life. She explains: “I have trained myself to break projects into pieces so I can take one out at a time and realize I am making progress.”
04. Reduce personal time at work. While sending a text or two isn’t necessarily a bad idea, Monahan suggests that you try and save personal conversations, or even personal projects until after the workday to maximize your efficiency. This can be especially challenging, especially if you work remotely, but there are even tricks to working successfully from home. By focusing on work first, you can be present with your partner later.
05. Learn to say no. Monahan says to avoid being the person everyone dumps work on. “Be clear and direct when someone approaches you asking you to take on their workload. Simply stating that your plate is full and you are not able to take their project on now is all you need to say to stay focused on your job at hand and stay productive.” This can be hard if you’re a people-pleaser, but turns out, doing a good job at a few things will put you ahead much farther than doing a medicore job at many, many things.
Be More Present for Your Partner During Non-Work Hours
You know that mindfulness trend? It’s more than just a buzzword. Susan Trombetti, matchmaker and owner of Exclusive Matchmaking, says “work does intrude occasionally but everything should be about your partner when you both reconnect after your day.” In other words, personal time is personal time. So make it count! Even if you’re on deadline, just fifteen minutes of real connection will do wonders, according to Trombetti. Here are some tips for staying focused on your partner when you come home.
01. Be clear and set boundaries at work. Establish rules with the people at your office about your availability after hours. Depending on your environment, this could be as simple as getting in the habit of not responding to emails after a certain hour. Over time, people will get the point. Monahan says that you must make it clear with your business associates that “your time at home is for your loved ones” and that “will allow you to stay focused on your partner when at home.”
02. Turn down your phone notifications. A phone is a small thing, but it can make a big difference. Try putting your phone on “do not disturb” or sleep mode when you get home from work. Breaking the habit can be tough, but learning how to stop “phubbing” can do wonders for your relationship. As Verily reports: “In a study due out in the January 2016 issue of Computers in Human Behavior, researchers James A. Roberts and Meredith E. David at Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business surveyed 453 American adults and found that phone-snubbing behaviors negatively impact relationship satisfaction.”
03. Slash social media time. This goes hand-in-hand with phone time. Even if you’re physically there, Trombetti observes that “you wind up present but not really interacting.” If you want to keep up on social media, check it right after work or after dinner instead. Be careful not to be on your device right before bed, though, as it can disrupt your circadian rhythms and throw off your entire sleep/wake cycle. Not to mention, it’s a total turnoff.
04. Try to keep the TV off. Unless you are watching something together that you really enjoy (such as a show that sparks conversation and brings you two closer together), Trombetti suggests keeping the television off after work so you can make sure the time spent together is of substance.
When You Have to Choose
If it hasn’t happened already, the day will come when you have to choose between your partner and a work obligation. In these times, Monahan says straightforward and clear communication is key. “If the demands are last-minute emergency meetings and that is a condition of the job, it is critical to communicate this to your partner up front. Conversely, if that is not the case and you are asked to attend a meeting on your anniversary you need to communicate to work that you have personal commitments.”
Monahan aptly points out that “our partner is the one that will be with you for the long haul, long after you have left your current company.” Balance is important, though, because your career is not only how you put bread on the table, but allows you to contribute to the world. That said, Trombetti explains that if you value your relationship and work is ruining it, you should be quick to find a new job or other solution, and communicate these efforts to your partner. But if your career is important to you, your partner needs to be willing to make reasonable compromises, too.