How To Stop Overworking To Avoid Your Spouse
When deciding between working more in your business or going on a date with your spouse, it’s easy to choose work over your spouse. This can feel frustrating for both of you, because you both want to have a good relationship and spend time together (in theory), but instead you’re growing apart.
Why this is happening and how to fix it
When you’re really good at what you do for work, you’ll naturally want to spend more time working, because it feels good.
But when you’re with your spouse, you might feel like you’re not doing great in that area of your life…maybe you feel like you can’t make your spouse happy all the time, or maybe you feel like everything you do in your relationship is wrong, or they’re never happy with you. (Relationships are complex!)
If that’s what’s happening, you’ll naturally want to avoid spending more time with them, because it feels bad.
The problem is - if you regularly choose work over your spouse, the two of you will continue to feel frustrated with each other, which may lead to growing apart.
The longer this goes on, the harder it could become to make your relationship better. So, I don’t recommend avoidance.
Instead, I recommend you spend time with your spouse regularly, and when the two of you are hanging out - you focus on YOUR emotions, instead of THEIR emotions.
You stop trying to make them happy all the time. You stop thinking everything you do in your relationship is wrong. You stop trying to control their emotions.
It will feel weird at first, but when you allow them to take ownership of their own emotions, and you take ownership of yours, it will actually help the two of you connect again.
Why it's so hard to have healthy relationships
I really wish we were taught about healthy relationships back in grade school, because the first 35 years of my life would have been so much easier. But since they didn’t, I found myself in search of answers, in search of help, in search of someone who could help me make sense of my life.
Becoming a Certified Coach in 2019 was exactly what I needed, and it helped me clearly understand what I can and cannot control - and how to truly connect with other people.
I learned that I can control my own emotions, but I cannot control other people’s emotions. My thoughts and the way I perceive things are exactly how I control my own emotions, because my thoughts cause my emotions. Other people don't cause my emotions.
This is true for you too - You can control your own emotions, but you cannot control other people’s emotions. Your thoughts and the way you perceive things are exactly how you control your own emotions, because your thoughts cause your emotions. Other people don’t cause your emotions.
It’s such a simple, yet profound lesson. But it can be difficult to apply to real life.
So, let’s walk through a quick example together of how you can apply this to your life.
Example of how to implement this into your life
Let’s say you and your spouse schedule a date together. You plan to go to lunch on Saturday to a local restaurant.
Saturday comes. You both go to the restaurant and get seated at a nice, quiet booth by a window.
After you look at the menu and place your lunch order, your waitress or waiter brings your drinks to the table. You both take a sip, settle in, and begin to relax.
Your spouse starts to talk…
“I just want to be happy, but I’m so unhappy most of the time.”
“You never spend time with me. You’re always working.”
“I miss you. I always feel like I’m competing with your work.”
Instead of reacting or responding quickly, you remember these are THEIR thoughts, which are causing THEIR emotions. These are not YOUR thoughts or emotions.
You take a moment to really think about what they’re saying to you and what YOU think about all of it.
Of course it doesn’t feel good for you to hear their negative thoughts, especially when the negativity is about you, but you’re also not internalizing their thoughts anymore…you’re not taking their thoughts and emotions on as your own.
After you’ve thought about what YOU think about all this, you say outloud to your spouse…
“Thank you for sharing with me how you’re feeling. I’m glad you feel safe and comfortable to share that with me.”
“I’m sorry you feel unhappy. That’s not a good feeling.”
“I’m doing the best I can to balance work and our relationship. I’d love to spend more time with you. Let’s have a nice lunch together today and schedule our next date when we get home, so we’ve got it planned on the calendar.”
Then, you pause and ask yourself where you want to take the conversation next.
You can continue listening to them share, or you can shift the conversation to something more light and fun, or you can share how you feel with them. It’s totally up to you. But wherever the conversation goes, remember to stay focused on your thoughts and emotions, and stop trying to fix theirs.
When you do that, you will feel more open to listening to what they have to say. You won’t take it personally anymore. And you might even feel like sharing more about what you’re feeling.
Open communication like this can really bring two people closer together.
Get support when you need it
Healthy relationships are one of the main things that I help online service-based business owners (coaches, consultants, copywriters, graphic designers, and other experts) create by going from overworking to avoid their spouse to intentionally scheduling dates and feeling more connected than they have in years.
We also work on creating work-life balance in all the other areas of life and business.