Being successful requires hard work – it’s tough. Throw a spouse, with their own career and personal goals, into the equation and things can get even trickier.
When two partners are chasing their ONE Thing, it can be hard to maintain a work-life balance. Spend too much time at the office and your home life suffers. Spend too much at home and work suffers. Most of us have to fight this battle every day.
The good news is that there doesn’t have to be a winner or a loser. You can have both a successful personal and professional life. After interviewing a number of power-couples we found five essential tips on how to maintain a successful marriage while still finding success at work:
1. Learn to Counter-Balance
There’s no such thing as balance.
You read that right. When we talk about needing “balance” in our lives, we’re often saying that something in our lives that needs our attention is being underserved. Whenever we give our time to something that’s important, we’re taking time away from somewhere — or someone — else.
Work and relationships both require a lot of time and dedication, but we can’t give our full attention to both of those things at the same time. Sooner or later, there comes a time when we have to choose between completing a project at work or spending time with our family.
Balance is something that is good to strive for, but the concept of a perfectly balanced life is a lie. The important thing to do is acknowledge this imbalance, and work on counterbalancing instead.
When time is taken away from your family, immediately decide when you’re going to get that time back and how you’re going to spend it. When you have a clear understanding of where your time is going, you can begin to manage it. Only by managing our time and using it wisely can we make strides in two separate areas of our lives.
2. Practice Communication
Communication is the number one way we can help create harmony in our lives. The trick is to make sure we’re purposeful about how we speak with one another.
This sort of deliberate communication can be useful in a number of ways. For one thing, it can help you plan ahead. Dinners, swim meets, Valentine’s Day treats — whatever events are coming up in your life, you need to make sure the other person knows about them (unless they’re a surprise). That way the two of you can schedule and prepare ahead together, and no one is caught off guard or picking up unexpected slack.
Most importantly, communication is how we stay close with one another. It’s the foundation of any good relationship. It’s not uncommon to find that a lot of relationship problems stem from a lack of being heard or understood.
If you’re having a similar problem, when talking with one another, make appoint to put every distraction aside. That means turning our phones on silent and finding a place where you can be alone. Once the conversation gets going, try repeating back to each other what you say. When something is unclear, tell them what you hear them saying and ask them for clarity. By actively listening, you show the other person that you care and you avoid the frustration that can come from a lack of understanding.
3. Define Expectations
No one’s a mind reader. When the things we want, need and expect aren’t clearly defined, it can be easy to miss the mark. That’s why it’s so important to set expectations with our partners, especially if we want them to know what’s important to us.
Before anyone can fail to meet your expectations, sit and clarify what they entail. Maybe you love to cook, but you hate to clean – and you’d like your significant other to help with the dishes. Maybe the first fifteen minutes when you both get home from work is reserved for conversation or decompression. Whatever it is, defining our expectations and understanding the expectations of those around us helps cut through uncertainty and create concrete strategies for interacting with each other.
4. Create Weekly Rituals
There’s a reason why a number of fairytale romances end at the beginning of a relationship. The reality is that all relationships are hard work. And work, when done well, requires forethought.
Plan ahead and take time to find something to do at least once a week with the people who matter to you. Have a weekly movie night, go on a walk with your kids or meet your mother for brunch on Sundays. Anything can work, as long as it gives you some much needed one-on-one time with the people you love.
When everyone’s in the “know”, it makes the whole process of getting in quality time less stressful.
5. Remember to Turn It Off
When it is time to go home, go home.
While we should never feel afraid to get something off our chest, it can sometimes be important to treat our work life and personal life as though they are two different spheres. When we leave work, we have to remember to leave our work behind.
When you enter the doors of your home, aside from unloading and destressing, make an effort to keep work off the table. Shut everything off and disengage. That way you’ll be prepared to invest in the people you share your life with.
Sometimes switching from “work-world” to “home-world” requires some sort of trigger mechanism, something that tells us we’re supposed to be focusing on what’s going on at home, not the office. Whether it’s a walk with your dog, a ritual conversation with your spouse or an adult beverage, use these mechanisms to help you “turn it off”.
For more great advice on the topic, check out The ONE Thing’s Relationship Guide.