Our careers demand more from us today than they ever have before, so much so that many of us begin to wonder if it’s even possible to balance our work and personal lives.
We’ve all seen at least seven romantic comedies about the workaholic who doesn’t have the time to see friends or family, let alone find love.
Then they meet the one person on Earth prepared to forgive their implausible schedule, and the couple walks off into the sunset together.
As the credits roll, we cynically refuse to suspend our disbelief at the overachiever’s happy ending.
“That never happens,” we scoff in unison.
But does it? Is it possible to find a healthy balance between career success and life success?
Greg and Joshua recently took our Communication Style Quiz and learned they are at different but significant stages in both their personal and professional lives.
Greg is in his mid-20s, while Joshua is in his early 40s. They both want to maintain a healthy, happy, fulfilling relationship — but without sacrificing their careers.
Greg is just starting on the career ladder, and success is incredibly important to him.
Joshua has already made a name for himself and is trying to balance his professional commitments with his personal life. His focus now is to settle down and take life a little easier.
Finding the Perfect Work-Life Balance
Throughout our early lives, our parents and educators teach us the importance of having a successful career. Prudent advice, especially when you consider that all over the world, economies are suffering, and the cost of living is increasing.
Of course, our other primary life aim is to meet a great partner.
The societal burden to succeed in both your career and personal life may make you feel guilty or discouraged, even if you achieve one and not the other.
You reach the peak of success in your career, only to stop, take a breath, and realize two decades have passed, yet you haven’t found anyone to share the fruits of your labor.
Everyone wants a successful career, but climbing that mountain requires sacrifices.
Many of us forego dating and relationships to focus on securing the next promotion.
Perhaps the shoe is on the other foot — you have a great relationship, but you’re struggling to make any headway at work.
So, what should you do?
Do your relationships always seem to take a backseat while you continue to scale the corporate ladder?
Let me help you rebalance your priorities.
If you have built a distinguished career like Joshua, you probably want as much success in your relationships as you have at work.
Recognizing that relationships take effort — from both sides — is the first step in figuring out how you should be doing things differently.
Finding the Perfect Partner
If you’re in Greg’s position, where you feel you need to prioritize your career, that’s perfectly reasonable.
A serious relationship may not be in your plans at this busy and stressful time in your life — and that’s okay.
But, it can be frustrating when your partner doesn’t understand how important your career is to you.
In an ideal world, you’d find the perfect person who is similarly ambitious and understands your aspirations.
In reality, the demands of a busy career often clash with personal commitments.
From our work at the Gay Couples Institute, we’ve learned that successful couples consider their relationships a haven from the pressures of the outside world.
Your relationship should help you process and eliminate work-related stress. The right partner will support you in all your endeavors, rather than taking away from your achievements.
Remember Joshua, Greg’s partner?
He wants to start a family soon, so he can raise his children before becoming what he would consider being “too old.”
For laser-focused Greg, the timing couldn’t be worse — kids will only increase the pressure at home and make his work-life balance even more challenging to manage.
Greg is in his prime. He doesn’t want to be one half of the dull, unfulfilled couple who do nothing but clear up the path of destruction left in their kids’ wake. That’s no fun.
Did you know, over two-thirds of relationships decline after introducing children into the equation, irrespective of how successful they were before?
Bringing a child into your home turns a relationship into a family, one that consumes even more of your time and tests your ability to communicate and connect with your partner.
Both of you will need to be deliberate in making time for each other.
How To Establish a Healthy Work-Life Balance
- Invest in your emotional bank account: From extensive experience working with successful couples, the professionals at our clinic recommend setting time aside each day to connect with your partner. Focus only on each other, free of distractions. Switch off and allow yourself to enjoy your partner’s company — work will still be there tomorrow.
- Use the time away to focus on what matters: Whether you choose to spend 15 minutes every evening sharing the events of your day or taking a day off every month and going on a trip, use whatever time you have to decompress from the pressures of work and focus on the two of you as a couple.
- Express gratitude: Be grateful and appreciate how lucky you are to have a successful career or relationship. Positive psychology studies demonstrate how the expression of appreciation teaches the mind to find solutions to problems quicker and easier.
Remember, most extremes are unhealthy.
Focusing too much attention on either your personal or professional life means neglecting the other, which could make you resentful.
If you still find yourself focusing on one aspect of your life at the expense of the other,
take our Communication Style Quiz and learn how to find a healthy work-life balance.
ABOUT SAM GARANZINI, LMFT, LPCC, and ALAPAKI YEE, LMFT
Sam Garanzini and Alapaki Yee are Certified Gottman Method Couples Therapists and the co-founders of the Gay Couples Institute – the world’s only gay and lesbian couples counseling clinic. The Gay Couples Institute has locations in Northern California and Manhattan, as well as online counseling services available.
For more information about how the Gay Couples Institute can help you, please visit: www.gaycouplesinstitute.org