The choice between a successful career and love is not always clear-cut. Personal goals, current job satisfaction, financial needs and personal beliefs can all play a role in the decision. But it doesn’t have to be as hard as some people make it.
Most people are torn in between relationships and work. Some value either of the two while a few others are able to balance them. In one way or another, whether in marriage or courtships, many partners are suffering due to work life imbalance. The results are break-ups in marriages or relationships, heartbreaks, unfaithfulness, separation while others have quit their jobs or ask for transfers.
Mary faced this issue when she met the man who would eventually become her husband. While they dated, his job required him to travel Monday through Friday, which made their relationship difficult.
They broke up with him about five times while dating. Mary lives in Nairobi while James frequently travels to Rwanda. He worked 16- to 18-hour a day. By the time he calls Mary, it is midnight and he is exhausted. Later, she realized that if she loved this man and wanted to marry him, she had to move to Rwanda. Therefore, she asked for a transfer office with her company, which meant she did not have to sacrifice her career. But, if she hadn’t had that option, she says she would have quit because she did not want to sacrifice a relationship that she had waited 30 years.
On the other hand, James broke up with his girlfriend, Jane after getting her first job. Her job was too demanding that she had no time for him. Going to work from Monday- Saturday; which she often left at around 7p.m.
Love and careers go hand in hand- A good romantic relationship outside of work feeds our work life and everything else we do. Whether or not to put love or a career in front of the other is personal preference and each has its own benefits and consequences. Relationships and careers should often feed off each other. For example, some workers might be so focused on advancing their career that they end up stealing time from their relationship. But a good relationship can actually be a boon to work; providing support, steadiness and insight.
A loving, supportive relationship — if you are lucky enough to have one — is akin to emotional bedrock. Being loved and supported emotionally enables us to thrive. While having a great career is also very important to happiness, the career without the relationship often leaves one feeling like something is missing from life. We are social animals, and work can only fulfill so much of that need.
Balancing act- The key to this whole dilemma is not making the choice between a career and a relationship, but finding a way to better balance the two. Too many people confuse static balance with what we really live: a dynamic life. Sometimes we spend more time with one thing or another, where the finesse has to occur in knowing when to switch focus. For example, if you have a major work project which will take extra time, tell your partner and make a decision of how long you will allow yourself to be overextended. While you are involved with the project, take small moments to do something loving in order to remain intimate. This can be simply a small note before you leave in the morning or calling when you have a few moments during the day.
Tips of how to successfully balance work with your relationship:
Treat your partner like a partner- Talk with him or her, and keep her abreast of what is going on and let her know when you need a little extra focus at work. Always remember love. If you truly care about your partner, you will take time regularly to make sure you aren’t taking them for granted.
Work-free zones. If work must be done from home, like email checking, set a specific time to do it. For example, no working after a certain hour or only dedicating a few hours of one weekend day to work so that the other day is a work-free zone. Also, ensure that when you are in the work-free zone, no thinking or talking about work!
Coffee talk - Choose one weekday morning to get up early and have coffee together before going to the office or even after moving from office. This is a great thing to do, because rather than getting each other’s sloppy seconds; you are fresh and can spend some quality time together before work takes over. Romantic!!!
Put things into perspective- Gauge the benefits of the relationship and work over some time to come. Ask yourself, on a scale of one to 10, how much this particular job will matter in 10 years?” and “On a scale of one to 10, how much will this relationship matter to me in 10 years?” Be real in your answers; you may surprise yourself.
Date night - Schedule one night each week for a date with your partner. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just something you both agree upon. For instance, watch a movie or play, a game such as football, formula 1, rugby e.t.c. If you can keep a standing date each week, the better.
People keep getting stuck in all-or-nothing thinking. They think it is either work or a relationship, but life is more than both. Workers need to change their thinking to look for alternatives. Although no one worker is irreplaceable, a good relationship can be. People get focused on relationships or work and forget they can have both if they choose to. From the time you start working, assess your top values in life, and do not compromise them.