When you’re both gone all day, dinner doesn’t magically appear on the table. Nor does laundry appear, clean and folded, in your dresser drawers. It’s the double burden of work at the office and work at home that stresses relationships to the limit. Yes, you can share the household chores as equitably as possible. But what else can you do?
Give Your Partner a Heads-Up
When you know you’re going to be overloaded at the office, let your partner know in advance. Some couples have regular meetings so they can plan ahead. If you know your partner won’t be home for dinner you can plan a dinner with friends. And be sure to set aside a specific time to be with your partner. Do not let your workweek overflow so much that it infringes on your quality time together.
Establish a No-Tech Time
It may be that you bring work home often. Possibly every night. You may need to be ready to text, e-mail or phone virtually 24/7. If so, it’s critical to establish a regular time every night when you turn off iPads, smart phones and computers—say from 7:00 to 9:00, or whatever you decide. Establish a no-tech time that you can adhere to without fail, for your own sanity, if nothing else. And let your partner know that this is a time when you are available and tech-free. He will appreciate being able to plan to share that time with you.
Even the Playing Field
One of you is bound to be more committed to your career than the other. And that one is bound to spend more time in the office than the other. Be sensitive to the fact that if you are the one who always stays late, that can leave your partner feeling second best. Even when you both have the mature attitude that your career is important, be flexible enough to put your partner first when possible. Nobody’s workdays are always insanely busy. Try to break the habit of staying late when it’s not necessary.
Don’t Hog the Drama
Are you the one who comes home, drops your coat and bags, and launches into a diatribe with barely a breath between words? Be careful not to unload so much on your partner that you worry her about something she can’t do anything about. Venting is okay, but not as a steady diet. And don’t forget to ask her how her day was. Be respectful if he’s too tired after his day to go out to dinner or even engage in a good conversation. Take a little time out to decompress first.
Yes, do make plans and establish routines, but always be ready for change. Recognize that stuff happens and you need to be flexible. Especially if you discover that what seemed reasonable in a family meeting is actually impossible in practice. Get together with your partner and work out a more realistic plan.
Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: http://www.nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact-us.